There was a time when politicians didn’t pay much attention to the middle class.

Or at least politicians didn’t claim they did.

“Through the 19th century, almost nobody self-consciously thought about themselves as middle class,” said David Roediger, the Foundation Professor of American Studies at the University of Kansas. “The mass embrace of the term is kind of a Cold War product. And it didn’t really enter U.S. presidential politics until the 1990s.”

His latest book, “The Sinking Middle Class: A Political History,” refutes the concept that the United States is a middle-class nation while tracing the history of how the designation became a vote-pandering issue for rival parties. Published by OR Books on Oct. 8, advance copies are currently available.

Read the full interview here.

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