Searching for the "average American"


Many of our national trials and tribulations — along with our Grand-Canyon-size political divide — could be resolved, if someone could just find “the average American.”

He is the all-knowing person often referenced in letters printed in this newspaper, used as the unchallengeable corroborating source in countless Facebook posts, praised by politicians and held up in millions of conversations as the standard for common sense.

Who is this guy? I don’t know for sure, but he has left a “paper trail” that might be helpful in the search.

Statistically, we are looking for a person who hits the 50 percent mark in knowledge, wisdom and patriotic commitment — and therefore has just “plain old common sense.” Said another way, he is someone who is smarter and more committed than the dumb, uninformed and lazy bottom 49.95 percent, but not quite as smart, informed and energetic as the top 49.95 percent. He is average — top of the bottom and bottom of the top.

This guy (and I must assume he is “a guy,” because his admirers never reference him as “the common woman”) sets the standard for how to move our community and our nation forward. He is the widely accepted authority on all matters political, social, religious and economic. He is so universally correct in his judgments and pronouncements that he even is quoted — frequently and extensively — in the “Orchids and Onions” column of this newspaper. (Could any accolade be greater than that?)

I must admit this average American is remarkable, when I consider what he has done, on average, according to various national research polls I “Googled” recently. (I must admit I am sort of the average American Google research devotee. Most Google searches lead me to Wikipedia, the source of all sources.) This scholarly research of the research tells me the following about “the average American,” on average:

(1) He faithfully shows up at the ballot box during presidential, general elections, but stays home in the off-year congressional and municipal elections. He never shows up for primary election balloting.

(2) He identifies himself as “Christian” — and, on average, attends church 12 times each year. He believes the Christian Bible is the best source for moral lessons, but — on average — has never read it — not even a single verse.

(3) The average American has not read a newspaper this year. He spends about half of his leisure time each day watching television, but does not watch news programs. His information, on average, comes from social media. He thinks 68 percent of the information he reads on social media is inaccurate, but he reads it anyway.

(4) He has not read a book — fiction or nonfiction — this year. He graduated from high school, but — on average — has not read a book since. (Statistics are not available on whether he read a book before he graduated.)

While this “average American” may seem to be an unlikely icon for “truth, justice and the American way,” we must give him credit for performing way above what might be expected from his resumé.

What he seems to have is that “plain old common sense.” Who can argue with that? The average American knows common sense is the key to knowledge, wisdom and patriotic commitment.

If someone could just find him, I am sure he could make America great again — or at least good again. We might even want to elect him president.

Bud Herron is a retired editor and newspaper publisher who lives in Columbus. He served as publisher of The Republic from 1998 to 2007.

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