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Published June 23, 2011 in Persuasion by Michael Cloud
"Ordinary Americans made this happen," said a politician.
"This is what ordinary Americans want," said a pundit.
"This will hurt ordinary Americans," said another.
What do most public figures, politicians, and pundits mean when they use the phrase "ordinary Americans"?
All too often, these speakers and writers use "ordinary Americans" as code words to divide Americans into two groups:
1) Their kind of people: the best and the brightest, the upper class, the elite, extraordinary, classy, well-educated, intelligent, exceptional, and remarkable. An intellectual aristocracy.
2) Ordinary Americans, common people, the Masses, average Joes and Janes, undistinguished, run-of-the-mill, typical, conventional, mediocre, plain, and dull.
Code words are words or phrases designed to convey one meaning, one message to one group of listeners while sounding inoffensive to others.
"Ordinary Americans" is a code phrase to let speakers look down and talk down to those who are not part of the speakers' group. Who do not share their values or agenda.
Many of the elitist speakers and writers hold that "ordinary Americans" are uneducated, ignorant, too dumb to know what's in their best interests, and must be manipulated, legislated, and regulated for their own good.
When you hear someone say "ordinary American," listen to the tone and connotation. Look who it is aimed at and applied to. And look who is excluded. At the people who are NOT "ordinary Americans."
I have met hundreds of thousands of Americans, and I've never met one who was ordinary, common, or average. I've heard and seen people with many similarities, but hundreds of times more differences. Human beings are individuals. Each of us has different strengths and weaknesses, different interests and desires, different hopes and dreams. Different limitations and possibilities. Each of us is unique. We are un-averagable.
No self-appointed elite can know what is best for any one American. Much less know what is best for all of us -- collectively.
No self-appointed clique has the right to command or rule any of us or all of us. The American Revolution was launched and fought for each individual's inalienable right to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness. No one has more rights than another. No one has less.
No self-appointed group of individuals has legitimate grounds to look down or talk down to Americans who ignore or reject them and their political agenda.
You are NOT an ordinary American. You are NOT a common man or woman. You are NOT an average Joe or Jane. You are NOT one of the masses.
No one is. There is no such person. Each of us is an individual.
And those who try to call you one are NOT on your side. They are NOT on the side of individual liberty, personal responsibility, private property, and small government.
Michael Cloud is author of the acclaimed book Secrets of Libertarian Persuasion, available exclusively from the Advocates.