Why has a guy named Joe from Holland, Ohio, been a hot topic among the two dominant presidential campaigns?
Could it be that there are millions of other Americans just like him, and we pose a challenge for politicians of all stripes - - especially Democrats?
Of course, I’m referring to Joe Wurzelbacher, the plumber from Ohio who, caught on video questioning Barack Obama about his tax hike plans on October 11th, was told by the Senator that “when you spread the wealth around, it's good for everybody."
Since the publicizing of that video on Youtube Dot Com, Joe has appeared as a guest on the CBS Evening News, Fox News channel’s “Your World With Neil Cavuto,” And ABC-TV’s “Good Morning America.” Joe was also referenced more than 20 times at the third and final presidential debate last week, as John McCain looked into the tv camera and assured Joe that he won’t raise Joe’s taxes, and then repeatedly criticized Obama’s plan to “spread the wealth.”
A week later, the candidates are still talking about this guy. McCain and Palin speak supportively of Joe the plumber, and express their intentions to keep Joe’s tax burden low. And amazingly, presidential candidate Barack Obama and vide presidential candidate Joe Biden, with people around the globe watching their every move, have taken to belittling, impugning, and maligning their fellow American, the very-middleclass Joe Wurzelbacher.
Insisting that his tax plan will only raise taxes on those earning in excess of $250,000 a year, Obama has repeatedly scoffed at Joe the plumber, asking “how many plumbers make a quarter of a million dollars?” And Biden joked on “The Tonight Show” with Jay Leno that he wants to help real plumbers who are “actually licensed.”
Obama and Biden may both be surprised to know that, in many states, individual plumbers can practice their craft under the auspices of someone else’s license - - like, for example, the owner of the plumbing company that employs them. They may also be shocked to learn that, yes, plumbers and owners of plumbing companies can, and often do earn $250,000 a year or more. We still call them “small businesses” - - and they are some of the very businesses that will be endangered should the Obama-Biden economic plan become law.
But why is Obama, the multi-millionaire graduate of an elite Ivy League school, spending his precious campaign time trying to discredit one blue collar, middleclass man from the swing state of Ohio? Perhaps it is because Wurzelbacher threatens Obama’s assumptions about America.
Joe Wurzelbacher symbolizes the American middleclass in ways that we simply haven’t seen it symbolized in the media for a long time. So far as we know, Wurzelbacher has no direct or familial connections to the epicenters of American power - - elite schools, Fortune 500 companies, Washington politicians, and so forth. But this doesn’t leave Joe feeling like a victim.
Indeed, the hard working “Joe the plumber” apparently views himself as upwardly mobile, and fears that his government will punish him financially once he achieves his idea of “the American Dream.” To be sure, Wurzelbacher never told Obama that he earns over $250,000 a year (that’s Obama’s own misrepresentation of the facts). On the contrary, Joe said that he intends to, in the future, generate that level of income.
But perhaps most importantly, Wurzelbacher (and those of us like him) doesn’t get any satisfaction from tax policies that impugn those above him on the social ladder. We are horrified, not enchanted, by Obama’s third-world style class warfare and politics of envy. We aspire to achieve as the millionaire’s in our midst have achieved (even the millionaire named Barack). And we also understand that to economically malign one category of Americans, is to malign us all.
Governor Sarah Palin represents this middleclass paradigm beautifully. And she articulates the middleclass vision better than anyone else in the current race.
But regardless of whether or not the McCain/Palin ticket wins next month, the independently-minded American middleclass has been awakened, thanks in no small part to Joe, and Sarah. Consequently, Obama, Biden, Pelosi and company will find it far more difficult to enact their socialist vision for America.
Austin Hill is an Author, Consultant, and Host of "Austin Hill's Big World of Small Business," a syndicated talk show about small business ownership and entrepreneurship. He is Co-Author of the new release "The Virtues Of Capitalism: A Moral Case For Free Markets." , Author of "White House Confidential: The Little Book Of Weird Presidential History," and a frequent guest host for Washington, DC's 105.9 WMAL Talk Radio.