Thursday, May 7, 2009

Joe the Plumber: Ordinary American

Last year, I started using the term "Ordinary American" to describe people who aren't part of the influential elite class, the kind of people David Brooks sneers at when he uses "populism" as a pejorative. People like Joe Wurzelbacher:
Joe the Plumber is an Ordinary American, someone whose existence is lived outside the world where elite opinion is ubiquitous and omnipotent.
The Ordinary American is not a journalist, a movie producer, an academic or a politician. News media, entertainment, education and politics are endeavors that shape public attitudes, and for this reason the elite have striven for decades to exclude from those fields anyone who might dispute their consensus. . . .
Why doesn’t the Ordinary American endorse the consensus? Or, perhaps more accurately, why does the Ordinary American (whatever his personal opinion on such issues) not become furiously angry when he encounters dissent from the consensus?
Well, if you’re a plumber -- or an accountant or a truck driver or a small business owner -- your ability to fulfill your hopes and ambitions is not dependent on the approval of the elite. For most people in Toledo, Ohio, getting hired or getting promoted has nothing to do with their willingness to parrot the “correct” opinion on tax cuts or foreign policy. . . .
Why do I relate more easily to guys like Joe Wurzelbacher than to the elites who condemn him? Maybe it’s because I spent most of my life far from Washington, D.C., where nobody cared about my opinions. Maybe it’s because my family and friends -- my truck-driving brothers, my childhood buddy the school cafeteria supervisor, my sister-in-law the dental hygienist -- are so much like Joe.
The ironic point is that a guy like Joe the Plumber doesn’t care the least what you or I think of him. He doesn’t care whether we like him or not. He is proudly independent and unafraid to speak his mind. He is that extraordinary individual, the Ordinary American.
Please read the whole thing. And click here to buy a T-shirt:



  2. I was impressed by how well spoken Joe was and is. Compare his ability to speak with our current President.

    The difference? Truth seems to flow where lies tend to stutter (except when the teleprompter is telling you what to say.) Obambi has never had an independent or original thought in his entire life.

  3. "I was impressed by how well spoken Joe was and is. Compare his ability to speak with our current President."

    Is this a joke? I don't agree with most of what BHO stands for, and I certainly didn't vote for him, but it's impossible to deny he's exceptionally articulate, truly a master of oration. When I saw him speak in person, I was absolutely spellbound -- despite my best attempts to be cynical and aloof.

    Now, Joe is no idiot. He can make a good point and is adept at spouting a certain sort of rhetoric. (Our LAST president looks fairly witless beside him.)

    But, compared to BHO, Joe is awfully pedestrian, totally unpolished, just blah.

    "Obambi has never had an independent or original thought in his entire life."

    That's absurd. The man's entire public life testifies to his ability to think in a novel style.


    Robert, how is Joe "ordinary"? Maybe he was, but now he's pretty hooked up.

    He has appeared on national television numerous times, he has/had a bunch of semi-prominent media/journal gigs, and his opinions have been aired to tens of millions of people. He has a Voice with a capital 'v.'

    Joe enjoys a status most folks can only dream of. "Ordinary" people don't have the privilege of venting to the entire nation.

    The guy is a card carrying member of the news-media establishment now.


  4. Plus, from what I last saw, Joe is now involved in some text messaging scheme aimed at scamming really "ordinary" people out of their hard earned pennies. Nice guy, huh?

    This "ordinary American" business is flimsy stuff, Robert. Because when you say "ordinary," you really mean suburban, middle class, middle age white conservatives.

    A gay, black, Obama-voting hipster residing in a Williamsburg crash who makes a living biking around pizzas and selling the occasional photo to a local mag isn't "ordinary," despite the fact that he has no consensus-shaping power (beyond his vote, of course), no money, no influence . . . just the normal, boring-yet-exciting prospects of a young adult trying to make a quiet life for himself.

    More and more, what you call "ordinary" is nothing of the sort. Very soon, the face of "ordinary" will be young, urban, Hispanic, Democrat.

    And they will vote Democrat because all they know of conservatives is that they are responsible for Cousin Jose being dragged from his factory, imprisoned for a couple months, deported in the dead of night back to Guatemala, all because his visa expired and he didn't want to leave his naturalized wife and citizen kids.


  5. One more thing: Who is more "ordinary" than Barack Obama? Son of an immigrant and a Kansan. Raised by a single mother and his grandparents. Self-made man who started with next to nothing and ended up with everything. Isn't that the all American story to the nth power?

    He's extraordinary now, but, as I pointed out, so is Joe W. (though to a lesser extent), but if we're talking background . . .

    Me, I think there are enough stupid and artificial boundaries that divide us. Why create another group to separate some folks from other folks? (Especially when the implication of the "Ordinary American" thing is pretty inflammatory -- it suggests that some people are somehow less 'American' than others, an accusation nobody will take lightly.) How about judging individuals as -- dun dun dun -- INDIVIDUALS?


  6. Shorter Anonymous Phil:

    "I am not ordinary! I am an in-duh-vidual, just like everyone else! Hail Obama!"

  7. Okay, for the slow ones: I don't particularly like Obama. I didn't vote for Obama. I hope Obama loses in 2012 (though the GOP alternative probably won't be too much better).

    Since when did conservatives start mocking appeals to individualism?

    Oh, I forgot, these days, if you don't line up mindlessly behind the movement talking points, you're a Traitor-Socialist-Un-American-Loser.

    Christ, conservatives deserve to be in the wilderness for 40 years.