It really bugs me when British people use the expression that people are ‘common.’ ‘That’s so common.’ ‘They’re commoners.’ They’ve explained it as no worse than an American calling someone a redneck or a skinhead. Fair enough, these are derogatory statements – there is no denying that. And it would be completely hypocritical for me to think that I am morally superior because I call people rednecks, but not common. But these names are given to people who are not the ‘norm’ of society. They are ‘uncommon,’ I suppose you could say. I’m not saying this makes it any more politically correct, but it does have different connotations.
While slang against the normality may be used in British society, it is heralded in the American counterpart. Look at the Republican primaries and you’ll see evidence of that. You’ve got Michelle Bachmann (I think cervical cancer vaccinations leads to retardation), Herman Cain (I was CEO of a pizza company, ergo I’m fit for being President), and Rick Perry (I shot a coyote while I was jogging) as perfect examples of the American electorate craving an ordinary person in Washington. The U.S. wants a common politician.
The Republican debates this summer have illustrated this perfectly. When answering questions, the first thing every candidate tries to do is distance themselves from being classified as a politician.
Mitt Romney’s bread and butter opening has been describing his time in the private sector and underplaying his governmental roles. Herman Cain summed it up most aptly saying, ‘most of the people who are in elective office in Washington, D.C., they have held public office before. How’s that workin’ for ya?’ The Republican candidates are pretending to be exactly what they aren’t. And the sad thing is, the American people have taken the bait. They want a president who ‘appears’ not to be a career politician.
Can you imagine this mindset taken in other professions? Imagine pilots. ‘Gee honey, I like how our pilot has never flown an aeroplane before. He’s literally winging it.’ Or teachers. ‘I really love how Mrs. Klein appeared to know little more about history than I do!’ Or even doctors. ‘Boy, am I confident that Dr. Hodge will come up with the right treatment by seeking God’s guidance!’
I imagine a large part of America’s craving for a perceived normal person in office has to do with President Obama’s professorial attitude, which at times has alienated him from the American populus. He tries to be seen as just another true blood American, but his ‘elitist’ tendencies of preferring an administration based upon reflection and dialogue has not appeared to solve any problems that currently plague America.
Credit to the Republicans, they are playing their cards right. They see how Obama’s lack of the common touch has been a factor in making his presidency largely ineffective. The most significant example was his failed explanation of Obamacare to the very populus that the plan was, in fact, helping. Not to mention his bully pulpit Jobs speech to Congress earlier this September. Not only did it fail miserably at bringing the country together, but it made him look like a pissed off 5th grade teacher scolding his Republican students.
The current crop of Republican presidential candidates offers the complete opposite demeanor and approach. And when unemployment floats above 9% you cannot blame the American public for looking for the complete antithesis to Obama. That is how you get Rick Perry as a frontrunner.
For pure entertainment purposes, it would be a great joy to watch a Texas A&M C and D student take on the president of the Harvard Law Review. And we may just see the common man coming out on top. For it seems to me that a portion of America doesn’t want a Commander-in-Chief, they want a Commoner-in-Charge.