Many years ago when my husband and I still lived in Oregon, we had a cold snap right before Christmas. On Christmas morning we woke up to find all our pipes frozen. We had no water to flush the toilet, make coffee, or any other comfort we take for granted when the water flows.
Embarrassed that we hadn’t thought to wrap our pipes (we were naïve young newlyweds), we called a neighbor who was a plumber. Despite the fact that it was Christmas Day, he left his family celebration and came to our aid.
That was the start of my admiration for blue-collar America.
If ever there was a group of unsung heroes on all fronts, it’s the blue collars of this nation. Without complaint and often while enduring the derision of the “better educated,” they form our country’s bedrock. They’re the ones that keep us moving smoothly and (mostly) without interruption.
This past week on our farm, we had two steers butchered. A family-run mobile butchering service did the job (you can see the butchering process here – WARNING: GRAPHIC PHOTOS). These men take a dirty job and do it quickly, humanely, and cheerfully. While they worked, our conversation touched on politics. Their insight on the difficulties America faces was spot-on and very accurate. And when they drove off to service their next customer, I was once again reminded why blue-collar workers make this nation great.
There are many people in America who – instead of holding out their hands for a government check – dive in and get those hands dirty. They clean toilets, repair engines, mow lawns, pull weeds, butcher livestock, run electrical wires, plow fields, drive trucks, build furniture, weld metal and sew upholstery. Despite the baffling propensity of highly educated white-collar workers to look down at these occupations, blue-collar workers are proud of what they do. They know how important their work is.
And have you noticed that most of the blue-collar workers in this nation are overwhelmingly conservative? Why do you suppose that is? It’s because they’re the ones getting their hard-working hands dirty providing the goods and services that keep this country running.
These are the people on the ground floor of America. Whatever administrative policies our government enacts, they’re the ones who ultimately have to live with it. Poorly represented and often voiceless, they are buffeted by the ill-winds of “hope and change,” enduring taxes and governmental restrictions their fathers never had to face.
But once in a while the blue collars gain a voice. A famous example of this is Joe Wurzelbacher, otherwise known as Joe the Plumber. In 2008, his life changed when Barack Obama walked into his front yard on a campaign stop. This “lowly” blue-collar worker had the audacity to ask Mr. Obama why he wanted to raise taxes. Obama said he wanted to “spread the wealth.”
The truth came blurting out. Busted.
Whether he wanted it or not, this short discussion changed the course of Joe the Plumber’s life. Desperate for damage control, the mainstream press descended like a pack of wolves and tore Joe to shreds. He was put under a microscope, and endless lies and insinuations about him were put in print. They hinted that his lowly occupation precluded intelligence, political acumen and, above all, a voice in our system. He found out firsthand just how vicious and unforgiving the elites can be when challenged with a simple question.
But it is, of course, the Joe Plumbers of the world who have to live with confiscatory taxes and punitive regulations. They’re the ones watching their wealth being snatched away from them. People in the lofty halls of Washington or in the ivy towers of academia rarely see life from the street level. Therefore they can afford to spout their progressive agenda in blissful ignorance of what it’s like to actually LIVE it.
But Joe the Plumber lives it. I live it. You live it. Endless millions of blue-collar workers in America, between washing dishes and fixing leaky pipes, must live with whatever unfair and unconstitutional legislation gets passed.
It’s no wonder Joe the Plumber became something of a folk hero. Here was an ordinary guy who was no longer voiceless. Joe realized that, unlike the politicians and elites trapped in their ivory towers, he had a real perspective of America: that of a plumber. An ordinary working man. A “nobody.”
I recently had the pleasure of talking with Joe the Plumber. Though we’ve never met, we had the instant affinity one blue-collar person has for another. We chatted like old buddies. So I asked him: Why does a blue collar guy see this government’s failings more realistically than a politician or an academic?
“They think too much,” he said. “They try to make things more difficult than they really are. Blue-collar workers get to see what’s actually broken, and that it can often be fixed with a $5 part. But the politicians NEED things to be difficult so they can justify their existence. That’s why they institute $100 million dollar programs to fix a $5 problem.”
“They’re so far removed from what you and I do every day,” he added. “You and I live modest lives, trying to pay the bills, buying food, working hard. These are the things everyday average people do. Whereas the people in Washington, D.C. – I swear they think it’s the United States of Washington D.C. They forget that states came together and created the federal government – not the other way around.”
Our conversation touched on the “Occupy Whatever” crowds who have actually flown communist flags. We both sputtered our disbelief that these poor ignorant fools could ever believe communism works. I have three foreign-born sisters-in-law who escaped communist regimes to find freedom in America. These women can plainly see where America is heading as our progressive brethren can’t.
“But people romanticize what they’ve never experienced,” said Joe.
And elites claim blue-collar people are dumb. Ha. They’ve never talked to someone like Joe the Plumber.
If I wanted to argue what dumbs down Americans, I would say it has a lot to do with the notion that government dependency is somehow lofty and good, and fierce independence and a don’t-tread-on-me attitude is suspicious and bad.
A funny thing happened after Joe the Plumber met Obama. He discovered that he had a voice, and he wasn’t afraid to use it. Now he is striving to give a voice to a voiceless America (see his website at JoeForAmerica.com).
Let’s hear it for all the plumbers, construction workers, butchers, farmers and garbage collectors who unite to make America great. And if you don’t agree, next time your car won’t start or your roof springs a leak or your pipes malfunction, try calling a bureaucrat.
Me, I’d rather call Joe the Plumber … because I know he’ll EARN my money, not confiscate it.