“You must be joking
You don’t know a thing about it
You’ve got no problem
I’d stay right there if I were you.” — Nik Kershaw
One of the speakers at CPAC used a common rhetorical trick during his speech that should really be addressed. The trick goes by different names, but we will call it the straw man tactic for now. Essentially, the idea is to construct someone that doesn’t really exist. Then, we can attach characteristics to them that will fit our particular purposes. Maybe we have them say something no one would ever actually say. Maybe we give them characteristics that few people actually share.
Pete Hegsheth is just one of a long line of conservative guys that say very similar things, but the tactics are what need to be put under focus. He invoked the “average man” as a kind of straw man that he created out of whole cloth. The average man doesn’t talk about equality, equal rights, or anything high brow like that when they meet with friends at the diner. They talk about the Bible, the tenth amendment, and standing for the national anthem.
It is a successful tactic on a number of fronts, but the most successful part of it goes to those that aren’t really part of his audience. See, I’ve never discussed any of those things at the diner and certainly haven’t heard anyone else discuss them. So, either Mr. Hegseth is full of shit or I am not average. If I’m being reasonable then I have to acknowledge the possibility that both of those could be true simultaneously.
I immediately called shenanigans on the tenth amendment discussion. I’m a former government teacher. I could tell you what the 10th amendment says, but I imagine most Americans can’t. They certainly aren’t talking about it at the local diner. Who knows, maybe average people are talking about the Bible and the anthem. We’ve already determined I’m not average.
This is a rhetorical trick the right continues to play. Progressives are a bunch of coastal elites and highly educated people that don’t represent real Americans. That education you worked so hard to get doesn’t make a real American. It certainly doesn’t make you an average American. We want you to be ashamed of that education and ashamed of that ability to think critically. You don’t matter like the flyover states matter.
If you look at public opinion polling, you will see that most people consider themselves to be average. However you measure average, they consider themselves average. It might be a reference to income (most call themselves middle class), education, or soci0-economic status. Any way you slice it, most people have a desire to be called average. That’s even if we aren’t average.
We want to belong as people. We desperately want to be able to go to that diner and relate to the masses. At least a part of us does. So, Mr. Hegseth is telling us what average people talk about. So, if we want to fit in with Bubba and Nadene we should really start talking about the Bible and how those elitist athletes should stand for the anthem. We certainly shouldn’t discuss why those athletes are kneeling. Average people don’t talk about that stuff.
What they don’t want you to know is that the so-called average man or woman is a myth. The reality is that a 50/50 split in the Senate isn’t representative of the overall population. The states that house the Democratic senators represent 42 million more Americans than the states that house the Republican senators. Yet, these charlatans manage to convince you that you are somehow elite if you have an education and reside in a city.
Even if you don’t bust out into a song and verse on the national anthem. Even if you don’t start quoting the 10th amendment word for word. They know you want to fit in. So, they are trying to subdue you into dropping your feelings about equality. You should just shut up about your opinions on policing. Average people support the police no questions asked. Average people certainly don’t stick up for LGTBQ rights. They’re too busy reading the Bible and singing the anthem.
Hegseth knows most people won’t buy his crap. He doesn’t need most people to buy it. He only needs a small percentage of the population to be insecure enough to give in and table their concerns in order to try to be average. We all do it from time to time. We hold our tongues and go along to get along. Just remember what he is trying to do. The premise sounds absurd. It is absurd. However, it’s designed to attack the emotional part of your brain. I want to be average. If that’s what average people do then that’s what I should do. Except the average man is a straw man. He doesn’t exist.