By using plain folks rhetoric, speakers attempt to convince their audience that they, and their ideas, are "of the people." The device is used by advertisers and politicians alike.
America's recent presidents have all been millionaires, but they have gone to great lengths to present themselves as ordinary citizens. We are all familiar with candidates who campaign as political outsiders or who challenge a mythical "cultural elite," presumably aligning themselves with "ordinary Americans."
In all of these examples, the plain-folks device is at work.
The Institute for Propaganda Analysis has argued that, when confronted with this device, we should ask ourselves the following questions:
- What are the propagandist's ideas worth when divorced from his or her personality?
- What could he or she be trying to cover up with the plain-folks approach?
- What are the facts?