Last weekend, a dear childhood friend confessed to me that although she was brought up in a middle class household, she had now fallen to working class. She would no longer be able to afford her own children the comforts associated (and that we often take for granted) with the middle class. The tipping point was reading this week this article which compelled me to write a short blog on the matter.
As I’ve often written in my articles, the strength of a democracy is correlated with the strength of its middle class. For it is the middle class of any country that undergirds the power of a healthy and balanced democracy, acting as a backbone. A dwindling middle class only spells political instability.
In these trying times of war, civil strife, global pandemics, soaring inflation, uber high taxation, and now a sharp increase of interest rates the middle class is being put to the test. More and more millions of families are facing the hardships of the errors caused by our self-complacent political class. And no, I am not referring exclusively to Spain, my comments also apply to the United Kingdom, the US, and many other democratic countries.
The politicians we have our days -with few exceptions- are career politicians, self-absorbed, that take decisions on the hoof based on short-term opinion polls; they are tacticians, always thinking on the next six months ahead, on the next polls. No longer do we have serving statesmen who are strategists and have their hearts set on the welfare of the many with a view on the nation’s long run. As a result, we are witnessing all over the world how the middle class is taking the brunt of these difficult times, weakening in effect western democracies, to the great delight of autocratic powers due east, always with a keen eye waiting for a chance to pounce and further their despotic and imperialistic agendas.
Like in the not-so-distant past, this will leave the door ajar for extremist movements to seize the opportunity and rise to power, abetted and financed by those autocratic regimes which seek to undermine the foundations and resolve of western democracies. They will capitalize on people’s discontent, on their newfound financial misfortune, sowing dissension and questioning our democratic values and beliefs.
But it is often said, and history proves it, that our greatest leaders turn up on the eve of such hard times, often from within the humblest ranks of our society. For they know, better than anyone, the values, and benefits that in time grow from nurturing the seeds of democracy.
“The legitimate object of government is ‘to do for the people what needs to be done, but which they can not, by individual effort, do at all, or do so well, for themselves’.” – Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln (1809 – 1865). From an impoverished humble background of corn farmers, this self-taught American lawyer, strategist, and politician would rise to serve as the 16th US President. He resolutely ensured a pro-Union victory, strengthened the federal government, modernized the economy, brought about the emancipation of slaves and preserved the Union. During his tenure, he held presidential elections in 1864 to be re-elected, amid a devastating Civil War that threatened to tear his country apart and engulf it in a sea of darkness; yet he gave example in the face of adversity, holding steadfast to his ideals, steering the ship safely into port and acting as a beacon of Democracy which light shone with a fierce intensity the likes of which the world has never witnessed, before or since. Never again would a country hold presidential elections amidst a bloody civil war in what constitutes one of History’s greatest democratic feats to date. But most importantly, he went into great lengths to ensure the festering wounds left open during the fratricidal Civil War were healed; generously reconciling both sides in equal terms, as one nation, indivisible, under God. Through his courage and sacrifice, which ultimately would claim his own life, he laid the groundwork of what was to become the greatest and most powerful nation on earth over the next two centuries. A true statesman that would always put ahead of any consideration the best interests of his people, by tearing down divisive walls and fostering at every opportunity union. It is for this very reason, that more than two centuries on, he is widely regarded as the greatest American President to grace the White House. Likely, the greatest American of all time, towering above the rest.