The subtext is that formal education, as opposed to good old common sense, is elitist, and that growing up on a fixed or low income (except for welfare or unemployment insurance) somehow confers a deep wisdom unavailable to the more affluent.
So treasured is that notion in modern America that during the last presidential election, even Ann Romney, wife of the ultimate one-per-center, had to come up with a story about their struggles as a young couple. They ate off an ironing board, or something.
Ernst wound up her victory speech describing “an America where no matter who your parents are or what neighbourhood you grew up in, you have the chance to succeed. An America where it doesn’t matter who you know, all that matters is how hard you work …”
An imaginary place, in other words.