The Working Poor and the Luxury of Political Concerns
Back when I was broke and barely making it living check-to-check, thinking about the daily nonsense of politics was never a priority.
It's because, like many Americans, they don't have the luxury of time to focus on anything other than survival.
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I first became interested in politics in my mid-20s and would watch the news daily. This time coincided with me having a good-paying job at a telecommunications company. However, when I got fired from there, my interest in politics struggled along with my income.
In about a year, I went from living with my girlfriend at the time and renting a nice condo to being single living in my friend's furnished basement with no job. To make matters worse, I was denied unemployment and it took over 8 months to get my appeal hearing.
I tried selling car parts online via drop shipping to generate some income in the meantime and every day was a grind. I woke up thinking about how to make at least one sale for the day and stayed up late trying to accomplish this goal.
This period was among the most miserable times in my adult life as I was alone, semi-dependent on others, and had no vision of a secure economic future. Every day was a struggle but one thing that was consistent: I didn't care about what was going on politically.
Worrying about what's happening in D.C. and not what's happening in my own life was wasted energy if I wanted to change my circumstances. This wasn't even a conscious choice to ignore politics, it was just a natural reaction to how my life was going at the time.
I often listen to how some politicos talk about the masses as if they are naive people who are too lazy to pay attention to what's going on in the government. They are often people who have never felt what it’s like to be unstable and worry about if they have enough money for food.
They are people who've never put $3 into their gas tank because it's literally all they have or gone into the negative in their checking account to buy some food for the day. These are people who lack the understanding of what struggle feels like: they are truly privileged.
They can only see as far as their life and their circle of privileged people's lives. They're afforded the time to think about political concepts, strategies, and complaints because they're striving, not surviving.
I know of professional people with decent full-time jobs who must become Uber & Lyft drivers to pay all of their bills: do you think they all have the time to focus on the daily excrement that comes from D.C.?
The reality is that the outrage of the day rarely makes it to the ears of working-class Americans because they're just trying to get by and don't have the time to be mad at anything else other than their current situation. These aren't lazy people; they're overextended individuals.
What you might think is the game-changer moment by your favorite politician or political rival doesn't even appear on the radar of most people. Try talking to someone who's on their way to their second job about the controversy of the day on Twitter and see how they react.
Understanding all of this is important if you're trying to find a way to reach people where they are and it first starts with respecting their situation. Your niche trivial outrage won't move the needle if you're trying to earn the valuable attention of people who are struggling.
I worked hard to make it out of this circumstance but I am thankful for the struggle I went through because it truly gave me a realistic perspective as to the real-world circumstances that millions of Americans are going through.
They're not dumb or naive; they're just tired.