Archive for ‘The Ordinary American’

May 7, 2009

Joe the Plumber: Ordinary American

Last year, I started using the term “Ordinary American” to describe people who aren’t part of the influential elite class, the kind of people David Brooks sneers at when he uses “populism” as a pejorative. People like Joe Wurzelbacher:

Joe the Plumber is an Ordinary American, someone whose existence is lived outside the world where elite opinion is ubiquitous and omnipotent.
The Ordinary American is not a journalist, a movie producer, an academic or a politician. News media, entertainment, education and politics are endeavors that shape public attitudes, and for this reason the elite have striven for decades to exclude from those fields anyone who might dispute their consensus. . . .
Why doesn’t the Ordinary American endorse the consensus? Or, perhaps more accurately, why does the Ordinary American (whatever his personal opinion on such issues) not become furiously angry when he encounters dissent from the consensus?
Well, if you’re a plumber — or an accountant or a truck driver or a small business owner — your ability to fulfill your hopes and ambitions is not dependent on the approval of the elite. For most people in Toledo, Ohio, getting hired or getting promoted has nothing to do with their willingness to parrot the “correct” opinion on tax cuts or foreign policy. . . .
Why do I relate more easily to guys like Joe Wurzelbacher than to the elites who condemn him? Maybe it’s because I spent most of my life far from Washington, D.C., where nobody cared about my opinions. Maybe it’s because my family and friends — my truck-driving brothers, my childhood buddy the school cafeteria supervisor, my sister-in-law the dental hygienist — are so much like Joe.
The ironic point is that a guy like Joe the Plumber doesn’t care the least what you or I think of him. He doesn’t care whether we like him or not. He is proudly independent and unafraid to speak his mind. He is that extraordinary individual, the Ordinary American.

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