As the pending U.S. presidential election moves along its campaign path toward the finish line, the issue of candidate income levels is becoming more of a palpable pivoting point. That is, the underlying effort to paint the other candidate as more out of touch with the common voter, as being in direct proportion to their wealth, has once again become salient. This is not a new debate. Nor is it a new tactic of the American left.
It is common knowledge that at least half of all members of the House and Senate are in the category of the one percent that the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) “occupiers” and their sympathizers seek to castigate. According to this logic, as candidate Mitt Romney’s income level becomes the big issue for the political left he is out of touch. So why is it that Americans (and perhaps others) find it so appalling when others do well for themselves? The answer likely has something to do with underdogma.
Underdogma is a term (and a book title) coined by Michael Prell. It references the instinct to cast those who “have” in a villainous light, whereas their opposite numbers must be the “have not” victim class. With near automaticity, scorn is heaped upon those who seem richer, more powerful, and more privileged at the expense of others. It enables the many to paint the few as controlling and unlike the common person. It seems to be the guiding logic of liberals, which would explain why OWS receives much less condemnation from the left. Democrats cannot afford to abandon them. They lend the most credence to the entitlement philosophy: “give us free stuff.” It makes sense that the U.S. Capitol building is not more occupied than a park in lower Manhattan.
According to the underdogmatic approach to economics, Mitt Romney is more evil than Barack Obama. Therefore, this one percenter is not worthy of leading a nation of ninety-nine percenters. So far, it seems the logic remains intact, and the tactic remains successful.