In 2011, much of the national conversation focused on inequality, as the Occupy movement brought attention to the 99 percent and the 1 percent. But in 2012 the Occupy movement atrophied, and while the gulf between rich and poor remained as wide as ever, the class divide was just one of several narratives that drove the national election cycle. It’s probably appropriate, then, that among the most underreported stories of the year was the growing disparity between the average Americans and the people they elected to run the country. According to an analysis by Roll Call of Congressional financial disclosure forms, the net worth of the 535 members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives rose to $2.04 billion in 2012, up from $1.65 billion in 2008 — an increase that averages out to nearly three quarters of a million dollars per congress member. All this while the net worth of the average American household declined by more than 20 percent, according to data released in March by the Federal Reserve.
But in an election year, the focus was, of course, on the races themselves. And despite a dismal 10 percent approval rating, Americans sent 91 percent of incumbents back to Washington.