Sunday, March 1, 2009
Here I am with Joe The Plumber & Joe The Plumber's book poster
I have returned from Washington, D.C., where I attending CPAC--the Conservative Political Action Conference. If you have had a pulse the last few days, you have been hearing the conference updates on Fox News (and those other stations), seeing video footage of the speakers, and watching pundits weighing in on those speakers. Since last night you have, no doubt, heard endless remarks about Rush Limbaugh who closed out CPAC and is being hailed now as the leader of the Republican Party. You have also heard that this year's CPAC was the most attended, most enthusiastic in its 36 year history, with about 9,000 conservatives present. Now, from that we can deduce that either they all came to see me (not likely) or people are actually fired up and ready to get involved in reclaiming America and rescuing her from...I'm trying to come up with a cute little disease-ridden-sounding name, but all that's coming to me is...socialist liberal big government entitlement destruction. Since that about sums it all up, I'll stop looking now for something else to call it.
I want to tell you all about CPAC, but I don't want you to miss a thing, so I'll break things down over the next few days. I wouldn't want to overwhelm you with the whole account at one time. That would surely overwork both your brain and your heart and make you enormously jealous of me too--all in one shot. I'd rather spread out your jealousy over a few days; it'll be easier for you to stomach that way, not to mention much more fun for me!
I can't even begin to tell you all that was offered at CPAC. Go to http://www.cpac.org/ and you'll find valuable information, including the speakers and panelists. But I will tell you about a couple things right now.
First, the amount of young people in attendance was amazing. This is exactly what we need in America: college students who love this country, understand the value of freedom, and are ready to get involved at the grassroots level. Tons of these fireball college students and young professionals were spreading the word about organizations that uphold conservative principles and values. I wish I had taken the time to get involved and make things happen when I was at the tender age that these young people are. Many of them have a light in their eyes and a fire in their bellies. They're ready, and they believe it's their turn. In fact, many were even wearing stickers that said, "It's Our Turn"! I wore my sticker as well. Hey, it doesn't matter that I'm no longer walking the halls of University. It doesn't matter that I'm entering the ballgame late; just like many of these CPAC registrants, I still want a chance to hit a home run. I might add also that many people assumed I actually was a college student! So hey!
Don't get me wrong. You didn't have to be--or look--young to be a valued part at CPAC. Many older people were there as well. Many, I'm sure, have been life-long conservatives and have stood for conservative principles through thick and thin. Those people are just as important to regaining power, and they have the unique role of imparting into the youth while learning from them also. We need both to be grounded, productive, and relevant.
Tonight I want to talk to you about Joe the Plumber. You all know Joe. He's the guy who was outside throwing the football with his son when an unlikely opportunity unfolded. The then presidential candidate, Barack Obama, came by and Joe asked him a question about how he would be taxed as a small businessman. Little did Joe know that day that he would be giving birth to the spread-the-wealth debate. It was a question that x-rayed Obama's ideology, sparked the beginning of his being viewed as a socialist, and caused a brief rise for McCain/Palin in the pre-election polls. Joe was immediately placed on a pedestal and hailed as a hero by conservatives--and had his private life delved into by liberals, who look to destroy the enemy--most often with the help of the media.
Since that day, Joe the Plumber has travelled to the Middle East to visit our troops, written a book, and now has been a major attraction at CPAC. Who ever thought that being at the right place at the right time would lead to such nationwide acclaim? But it did. Like it or not, this is what is so appealing about America. Here you can encounter and capitalize on opportunites to rise from virtual obscurity to having a resounding voice. In America, you have the right to write a book, find someone to publish it, and engage others enough to buy it. You have the right to pursue whatever dream you've made your own. So whether you're Joe the Plumber--whose name we've all heard--or Jeffrey the Mechanic or Shaniqua the Hair Stylist (names I just made up), we say, "Go ahead; try to be successful. Anything is possible in America." And this is exactly why conservatives don't want the government playing God in people's lives. We don't want government punishing people who have found a way to realize their dreams. Government must not be allowed to take away hard-earned profits, exterminate dare-to-hope audacity (sound vaguely familiar?), and give people's money to others who have the same opportunity to be in the right place at the right time.
Do I find it a little outrageous that a man who simply asked a question, Joe the Plumber, has become the icon that he has? You betcha! But this is America! And in America, the greatest country in the world, things like that happen. It's the stuff dreams are made of. Taking away from these people is not what will drive America. On the contrary, it will snuff out our small businesses which drive our economy and, just as detrimental, it will snuff out our audacity to dream and our motivation to achieve those dreams--and then America will cease to be America. Government will be large, but spirits will be low. At CPAC, I was among thousands of people who say, "No way! I will NOT let this happen. I may have lost an election, but I must not lose my way. I will go back to my city, my college, my family--and most of all, my knees--and I will fight for what is right. And maybe--just maybe--I will be next Joe the Plumber." Why not?
Stop by again for Round 2 of CPAC.