The Big Picture: Top of the TopI've seen other economists refer to the American middle-class as a post-war phenomenon, meaning it was an artifact of WW II rather than a stable feature of the US economy. I don't think, however, that's true in all weathy nations.
To review: The Middle class is getting squeezed by outsourcing, decreasing industrial sector, increasing energy prices, weak personal income gains, non-commodity inflation, the worst savings rate ever, all the while accumulating massive debt, both personal and governmental. The good news is their tax burden has fallen, albeit at 1/10 the rate of the wealthiest Americans....
..."Other data show that among major world economies, the United States in recent years has had the third-greatest disparity in incomes between the very top and everyone else. Only Mexico and Russia, among major economies, have greater disparity."
So why does anyone but the wealthy vote for George Bush? As near as I can tell about 70% of his base vote for religious reasons, 5% vote because they expect to gain economically, and 25% made a big mistake. That's oddly reassuring, it means that 75% of Bush's base voted rationally (if someone believes Bush is God's messenger, it would be intensely irrational not to vote for him).
How will this all turn out? I think we're too aged a nation to for 1960s style upheaval, but I do think it will be interesting to see how a socialist/green party does in the next election.