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Joe the Plumber as the Face of Conservatives

Eric Florack at BitsBlog posts “Understanding the Wurzelbacher Effect” in response to a NextRight post from a couple days ago.

The basic message I took from the NextRight piece was that the author, Patrick Gavin, was disturbed by the GOP’s elevation of Joe the Plumber, seeing it as a gimmick and unworthy of a legitimate party. A taste:

Conservatives should not need Joe the Plumber to prove their middle class bona fides. We are naturally the party of the middle, and we don’t need gimmicks to prove it. Demographically, Democrats rely on being the party of the upper sixth and the lower third, while Republicans tend to do better with everyone in between. When we start losing the middle class and the suburbs, we lose big like we did in 2008.

I agree with the idea that Joe the Plumber is a gimmick, and I certainly agree with the first line above, we shouldn’t need a gimmick to prove ourselves. Unfortunately, the reality is that we do. As things stand, the GOP is not seen as the party of the middle class. We are seen, rightfully or not, as the party of big business and the elites. A lot of this has to do with media portrayal, but that’s not going to change. In order to correct the public perception of the GOP, it might take a gimmick. Joe the Plumber, and, by extension Sarah Palin, resonated in a big big way with a lot of people. Obviously they aren’t going to do it for everyone, but they have served to reenergize a segment of Americans who felt ignored and condescended to by party leadership.

Eric responds with:

If Pat really thinks, as he says, that the “Republicans thrive as the party of normal Americans — the people in the middle culturally and economically”, then how is it that the only ’serious’ candidates are those of the intellectual class? The connection Pat’s never made, in my sight, is that such a middle class party doesn’t feel the need of intellectual leadership… a beholding to an advanced inner circle.

And he nails it, by my way of thinking. A couple generations of electing elites and career politicians has gotten us into the mess we’re in today. What’s wrong with turning to “normal” people to serve us in Washington? They certainly couldn’t do worse than the folks we’ve got now, and I believe that the American people will respond to a candidate who has proven that they can accomplish things in the real world.

The media is going to try to tear down whomever we put out there (witness their attacks on McCain), so we might as well put someone out there that people can actually identify with. When the Dems and the media rip into a McCain or a Mitt Romney, I find it hard to bring myself to defend them. But when Sarah Palin or a Joe the Plumber is attacked, it gets my blood up. I’m willing to work and fight for people who I can identify with, who have worked to get where they are (not that McCain hasn’t sacrificed, but as a politician he is firmly entrenched in K Street and DC). I say, let the Dems and the media rip our “common folk” candidates and spokespeople, and we’ll see how the public reacts to that.

UPDATE 2: And Kris at Shout First is feelin’ it too.
UPDATE: Ace of Spades apparently had a similar thought

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02/27/2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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