Some people enter the public consciousness willingly; others accidentally. But how one gets there has little to do with how one handles it once the national spotlight begins to shine.
Some step up. Some melt like an ice sculpture on a hot summer day. Because the spotlight doesn’t turn you into something you’re not; it accentuates who you are.
Similarly, progressives argue money corrupts politics. Not so. Money may be the means through which corruption is conducted, but honest people never seem to find themselves in those situations. They never have to walk away from bribes because the bribes are never offered. They’re never offered because corruption always finds corruption, and solid character always repels it.
The character deficit – the numbing fact that too many lawmakers do find themselves at that table, repeatedly – is a big reason we’re in this mess today.
Which brings us to the topic of Samuel J. Wurzelbacher, better known as Joe the Plumber.
Joe, who Democrats lamely attack as “not really named ‘Joe,’” (his middle name is Joseph and he’s been called Joe since he was a kid) and not really a plumber (he was a plumber in the Air Force and in the private sector for years) is running for Congress from Ohio’s 9th District.
Joe has a tough road ahead of him. The district leans strongly Democrat. It’s a combination of Marcy Kaptur’s and Dennis Kucinich’s old districts. Redistricting combined the two and set them against each other in this year’s primary. Kaptur won, and since Kucinich’s home planet still isn’t ready for his return, he’s said to be weighing a move to Washington state to run for Congress from there. He thinks Congress can’t survive without him.
The entitlement mentality Kucinich exhibits by even contemplating such a move thrives in Rep. Kaptur. She’s served in Congress since 1983 and has done little except provide reliable support for every left-wing program and spending bill she encountered.
I recently spent some time with Joe in his district and found it to be, well, exactly like Joe.
Ohio’s 9th District runs from Toledo to Cleveland, along Lake Erie, a blue-collar area full of hard-working people dearly hurting in President Obama’s economy. They vote Democrat because they’ve always voted Democrat – as did their parents. But they’re the people who have been most harmed by Democrat policies that shutter factories and manufacturing plants. They’re the people who have lost their jobs, their houses, their communities … who know all about tough times.
Joe is this district.
He is not a wealthy man. He won’t be self-financing his campaign. He’s a plumber who lives with his wife and son in a modest home. You likely never would have heard from him if he hadn’t ventured outside one day in 2008 when a senator from Illinois who was running for president walked down his street.
All Joe did was ask then-Sen. Barack Obama a simple question about taxes, in front of the media, and his life was turned upside down. Not because of the question, but because of Obama’s answer. As soon as “spread the wealth around” left Obama’s lips, Joe was a star.
Within 24 hours, the liberal media had dug deeper into Joe’s past than it has to this day looked into President Obama’s. State employees used government computers to access confidential information about him and leak it to the press. He was attacked with a ferocity that would have destroyed a lesser man … all for simply asking a question and getting, purely by mistake, an honest answer.
But the onslaught didn’t break Joe. Because Joe isn’t a lesser man, he’s a man of character.
His son is a high school wrestler and football player as nice as he is big (and he is a big, strong kid). Joe rarely misses a match or game, regardless of what else he’s doing.
And he’s done a lot since that fateful day. He could’ve settled back into his life and out of the spotlight, but he didn’t. He’s spent the four years since then traveling the country, speaking to Tea Party groups and rallies, advocating for reform of our polluted and politicized tax code, calling for accountability in government, extolling the virtues and greatness of America and contemplating if he should run for office.
He told me it would’ve been easier for him personally to run in 2010 and that party officials were pressuring him to run then. But he didn’t because his son was too young, and he didn’t want to be away that much. The hill will be steeper this time around, but the son is ready … and so is Joe.
When I first met Joe in 2009, his knowledge of politics and policy was about what you’d expect from a man who clears clogged drains for a living. But in the years since, he has become conversant on the entire menu of issues Congress confronts. And even as his celebrity has grown, his ego hasn’t because he has character.
Former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi famously promised to “drain the swamp” in Washington of corruption and cronyism. She only made matters worse. I’ll leave the obvious plumber jokes to you.
Washington needs Joe and plenty more like him. It won’t be easy for him to win – the media will go after him with a vigor not seen since the last time they went after him, and Kaptor hasn’t been on Capitol Hill for 20 years without learning the power of incumbency – but if anyone can unseat her it’s Joe. And if there’s one thing I know about Joe it’s that he’s up for the fight. And if he wins, we win.
To learn more about Joe’s campaign, visit his website by clicking here.