If you listen carefully, you can hear something important being debated in this election, in fact one of the most important questions of them all:
What hope is there for the average American worker?
Once upon a time -- in the far-off days after World War II -- the average worker could look forward to a steadily rising standard of living. You didn't have to be anyone special or do anything special. Just keep doing your job, and over the three decades from the mid-1940s through the mid-1970s you could expect your wages to double. And that's after inflation.
That was a long time ago.
Even before the Great Recession, wages tended to stagnate or decline, except for the most skilled workers in the most robust industries: technology, finance, and so on. The middle stayed put; the top pulled away. There's little reason to expect that situation to change after recovery arrives.
Opinion: Republicans risk being the party of mean
We live in a world of global competition now, where even white-collar jobs can be outsourced to India. If the jobs can't be exported, then the workers are imported, via legal or illegal immigration. Outside the government sector, unions wield little clout -- where they exist at all. For those reasons and others, the wage share of the economy had already sunk to record lows as of 2007.
What -- if anything -- should be done? Barack Obama and Mitt Romney each have answers, although you have to listen carefully to reconstruct them.