BRUNSWICK — The million-dollar question is: Will the working class stick with a billionaire president?

Income inequality has grown since the 1970s, enriching a few people beyond belief while pummeling the middle class. As a result, 540 billionaires and top millionaires possess as much wealth today as the bottom 90 percent of American households.

The widening income gap is a story of David and Goliath, although the nation is split over the identity of Goliath. Conservatives see him as big government threatening individual liberty and free enterprise. Yet it’s increasingly clear that the concentration of wealth is a bigger reason to worry.

To protect their fortunes, many billionaires are pouring vast sums of undisclosed money into politics. In her recent talk at Bowdoin College, Jane Mayer, best-selling author of “Dark Money,” shined a light on the arch-conservative Koch brothers, who are collectively worth $85 billion. They’ve enlisted like-minded billionaires to form a network of front groups to buy experts, lobbyists, pollsters, candidates and elections at all levels, Mayer has found. She exposes the money trail and how the shadowy network has bankrolled conservative messaging and candidate loyalty, seized the Republican Party and moved our nation, the world’s greatest experiment in democracy, toward a plutocracy by and for the wealthy.

The Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision opened the floodgates to political spending by proclaiming that corporations are people. Since then, the enormous influx of money and guaranteed anonymity of donors have weakened our democracy right before our eyes.

As a member of the billionaire club, Donald Trump shares the Kochs’ passion for cutting corporate taxes and slashing environmental and business regulations. But winning the presidency required a populist persona. The “art” of this deal was to see that when people are falling behind economically, they’re susceptible to raw emotional appeals, especially xenophobia – the Mexican wall, the Muslim ban and distrust of trade deals and alliances.

As Hubert Humphrey said, “To blame someone else is politics.” And blaming foreigners for economic problems is easy compared to addressing the underlying forces of automation, online technology, outsourcing and a federal tax system that favors the wealthy.

The right excels at using racial and cultural issues to stir passions and divert attention from big business interests. The left plays politics, too, but Democrats generally try to unite and don’t come close to the deceptive right-wing practices Mayer reports. Trump’s top wedge issue was immigration, accompanied by mysterious election fraud allegations. Like clockwork at election time, the Republican Party dials up other favorites such as law and order, abortion and gun rights. These hot-button issues are intended to make people resentful, angry or fearful and to distract them from following the money.

The Kochs’ army of paid agents in foundations, think tanks, academia and charities prefer to frame every social issue, such as health care, as a government takeover and loss of liberty. The lofty rhetoric conceals the self-serving interests of the Koch network, which go beyond a reasonable pursuit of limited government to the shredding of federal institutions, social programs and progressive taxation.

These billionaires extol the virtues of laissez-faire government yet disregard public contributions to their success, including the world’s best transportation system and an educated workforce. They then complain about “government interference,” a euphemism for compliance with workplace safety standards, pollution control and taxes. Worst of all, these fair-weather patriots don’t hesitate to invest overseas, hire foreign workers, outsource jobs or devise elaborate tax shelters.

But the intoxicating rhetoric of the right comes with a hangover for the little guy. The anti-tax extremism, constant belittling of government, glorification of the profit motive and minority blame game do little to provide tangible benefits to the middle class, including new infrastructure, college education, affordable health care and a safe environment.

Take energy, for instance. The Kochs made their fortunes in fossil fuels and are spending millions to muddle climate science, and more specifically, to fight decentralized energy sources like solar. Solar is the perfect technology for the little guy, with the potential to help millions of individuals, small businesses and municipalities lower their energy bills.

The middle class needs to focus on genuine needs, not the distorted hall of mirrors on social issues that Trump and the right use to stir emotions and divert attention. Our old system was a fair one. But it’s a new day, awash with clandestine money and deception – that’s the Goliath that needs slaying.