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Trump and Modi have a common advantage: The middle class

By Shubham

Donald Trump is not liked by many but still he is winning the race by quite a distance. For a lot of people, this is something they fail to understand but for us Indians, we had had this experience two years ago when Narendra Modi stormed to power at the Centre as the leader of a party which won majority by itself after 30 long years.

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Ben Carson endorses Donald Trump

How Trump's story resembles that of ModiHow Trump's story resembles that of Modi

America's middle-class is struggling today

The huge support that Trump has gathered is the result of the collapse of America's middle-class. Last year, St Louis's Federal Reserve Bank said in a research [See this Quartz article] that the living standards of the "middle class" have deteriorated sharply.

donald trump and narendra modi

It was seen that the median income of the "demographically defined middle-class" households collapsed roughly to $45,248 in 2013, from nearly $54,000 in 1989. A separate study also found that earnings of men in the US with a high school diploma but no college degree fell by around 13 per cent between between 1990 and 2013.

This precisely means that those high school graduates of today are less well-off compared to their parents, who thrived in the years of post-War prosperity when the sky was the limit for the American middle class. Economic inequality was something that did not leave that country worried as like today.

China's middle-class has gained at the expense of its American counterpart

But income inequality began to grow in the early 1980s and things have become worse as they were prior to the Great Depression of the late 1920s and early 1930s. Thanks to globalisation and outsourcing, the American middle-class's incomes have taken a beating while those of the Asian powerhouses, especially China, have increased.

Trumps and Sanders only cater to their ready audience

Hence, there is no surprise when Trump vows to bring back jobs from China and shut the doors on immigrants. There is an audience who appreciates the demagoguery of Trump and the style in which he delivers his populist speeches.

Even on the Democratic side, the tough chase that Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is giving to Hillary Clinton shows that the American electorate is ready to back even those who harbour the extremism on the Left, something that Sanders symbolise.

It is all about the health of the middle-class that defines a nation's political stability and the developments in the US show that the fall of the middle-class is having an adverse impact on its political health.

Modi's rise between 2012 and 2014 was because of a similar reason

The 2014 general election in India saw a similar story unfolding. Narendra Modi's rise since the victory in the last Gujarat Assembly elections of 2012 was based on his party's strong focus on the middle class (or the "neo-middle class", a term Modi had uttered ahead of that state election to expand the limits of the politico-economically significant class).

The focus was also made as a strategy to ruin the base of the Congress, India's original party of the middle classes, as the tainted UPA II government had by then left the dreams and hopes of the aspiring middle class shattered. Modi, as a clever politician who understood the pulses of the middle-class as an administrator, did not waste the opportunity to seal his opponents' fate.

Trump is doing something similar in the US and looks favourite to repeat Modi's feat.

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