The Everyman Election

    In a few days, the election that has centered around the anecdotal stories of ordinary citizens will have a winner. And a loser. The New York Times called the Everyman 30-minute  Obama Infomercial “a closing argument to the Everyman,” citing its heavy reliance on anecdotal stories of everyday people. The $3 million ad is even called “American Stories, American Solutions.” It is an aggregate of individual narratives, each making a point about the state of this country. Obama keeps repeating, “Everybody has a story.” All together, he says, “That’s the story of America.”

What is so significant at this time of Joe the Plumber politics, when one individual who is neither named Joe or is a licensed plumber, can come to symbolize a point in out culture when the everyman story is of more importance to the electorate than the ideologies, policies or intentions of its politicians.

On the Republican side, we have been listening to Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin defend her “everywoman” appeal, even when she has to explain her $150,000 wardrobe for her and her family on the campaign trail. She is still a working hockey mom, and she still seeks to appeal to Joe Six Pack and the “real Americans” in this country.

Media has responded to all this everymania with more and more stories that anecdotalize the economic fall out, the healthcare crisis and the implosion of confidence in our country’s very infrastructure. 

I have been more than slightly remiss in posting here as I have been working so hard on another book in the last six months. It is the dual narrative of my three sons’ athleticism, specifically, their wrestling since they were each 10 years old, and how that coincided with my own fight with cancer. My son, Weldon, won fourth in state in Illinois AA High School Wrestloing at exactly the same time I was recovering from surgery and radiation. That is my next book. 

I am still thinking and trying to understand the changes and challenges in media in the past several months, from layoffs to the elimination of the print product. Much of what I said would happen in my book, Everyman News, has happened. I wrote about how the content must be the commodity, not the delivery mode. It does not matter if a story is ink on paper, it matters it is an an anecdotal narrative of everyman.

As I near completion of this new book and I start back to teaching my classes at Medill, I will continue to post. I am also working on a study of international newspapers and their use of narrative in their pages so I am swamped.

The next few days will be extremely telling, in how the messages shift regarding this election and how the media continue to rally around the importance of everyman and how each individual story counts, along with his or her vote.

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