To: Mr. Tom Perez, Chairman, Democratic National Committee (DNC)
During your interview on the PBS NewsHour you talked at length about what Democrats have to do to start winning elections.
Excuse me, I mean to start improving our lives.
Early in the interview you said,
“I think the Democratic Party, we have always been fighting for ordinary Americans, whether it was fighting for the Social Security Act in the 1930s, fighting for Medicare and Medicaid.”
If you and your colleagues would really like to turn things around, here’s my suggestion:
Stop referring to Americans as “ordinary.”
This reminds me of something Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said a few years ago during a hearing of arguments about the federal campaign finance law:
“By having these limits, you are promoting democratic participation. Then the little people will count some and you won’t have the super-affluent as the speakers that will control the elections.”
You talkin’ to ME?
Mr. Perez, in this faux pas you’re far from alone – other politicians, pundits and the media all use the word “ordinary” to describe Americans who aren’t among you favored few. Here’s a smattering of the many examples to be found:
“By referring to millions of Americans as ‘deplorables’ and ‘irredeemable,’ Hillary Clinton is showing her outright contempt for ordinary people and proving yet again why Americans overwhelmingly regard her as dishonest and untrustworthy.”
Reince Priebus, The Hill, September 2016
“But if you look at it, I mean, African-Americans watch the same news at night that ordinary Americans do.”
“We’ve begun to make the Government work for ordinary people.”
President Bill Clinton, November 1994 interview
“This is where I learned that change only happens when ordinary people get involved, get engaged, and come together to demand it.”
“That faith I placed all those years ago, not far from here, in the power of ordinary Americans to bring about change – that faith has been rewarded in ways I couldn’t possibly have imagined.”
President Barak Obama, Farewell Address, January 2017
(Is this getting old?)
“So many Republicans were elected. They had one job: repeal ObamaCare. It’s fairly clear to most ordinary Americans what ‘repeal’ means.”
Conservative commentator Michelle Malkin, June 2017
“Ordinary Americans Caught Up in NSA Sweep, Report Claims”
CBS News online in July 2014
“Millions of Ordinary Americans Support Donald Trump”
The Guardian online March 2016
“Here’s What Ordinary Americans Did When They Were Given Control of the IRS”
Inc.com June 2017
And just recently:
“When the judge refused to allow a jury, she refused to let ordinary Americans speak. So now they have to speak, through their president.”
Jack Wilenchik, attorney for former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, August 2017
“Donald Trump…in tune with ordinary Americans.”
Telegraph online August 2017
(Yeah, really old.)
This becomes even more offensive when I consider the definition of “ordinary”:
- Of no special quality or interest; commonplace; unexceptional (Dictionary.com).
- Of common quality, rank or ability (Merriman-Webster.com).
- With no special or distinctive features; not interesting or exceptional; commonplace (OxfordDictionaries.com).
Mr. Perez, would you, perhaps, care to name the Americans of your acquaintance who fit these definitions?
I’m betting you wouldn’t include yourself among the “ordinary.”
So, if you talkin’ to me…