- The Washington Times - Monday, October 12, 2009

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

I became famous because TV cameras caught me questioning candidate Barack Obama about taxes and the idea that I should share more of my hard-won earnings with others.

It made me front-page news. When I stayed in the spotlight to talk about the things that I believe are on a lot of average people’s minds, I was introduced to the “other side of fame” - I was discredited, ridiculed and categorized.

My name is Samuel J. Wurzelbacher, better known as “Joe the Plumber.” I started speaking at “tea parties” across the nation because I believe that the best answers to our common problems are often found out here rather than in the backrooms of Congress or the White House. I discovered there are a lot of people who are as worried as I am about the direction of the country.

Even though the media have cast me as a Republican foil, I actually tell it like it is - both parties routinely take American citizens for granted, and both parties work overtime to pit us against one another. I worry because we have somehow let a new breed of political aristocrats, deaf to the average person, back into power in the first country to throw off government by royal decree.

Fresh polling seems to provide the reason that my average-American point of view has been so well received at tea parties - people are mad at their government for not listening. Rasmussen Reports recently found 60 percent of those polled said neither Democratic nor Republican leaders understand what the country needs. “I think what people are looking for is different than what the politicians want to provide,” Scott Rasmussen said.

The polls showed most citizens overwhelmingly opposed President Bush’s bailout of financial firms, but that made no difference to our leaders. The bailout of the automakers, with special provisions for unions, got the same strong public disapproval, and that didn’t matter to lawmakers or the president, either. Impoverished black parents in Washington, desperate to get their children into private schools and out of really awful public schools, love the voucher program there, but it is being dismantled because national teachers unions don’t like it.

More and more we see the proof - the political class does what is best for it and ignores the public’s opinion about what is the best course for the nation. “It doesn’t matter what we say,” Mr. Rasmussen said. Tea parties are for Americans who are tired of both sides playing us against one another to gain more prestige or power for themselves or their party.

Lately, clever politicians have begun acting as if they speak for those Americans originally attracted to the tea parties, who are more than worried that we are going down a dangerous road of debt and government dependency and are angry that we have been ignored. They don’t.

The tea parties began spontaneously, a healthy nonpartisan, grass-roots passion by the people of this great nation to once again take responsibility for the direction of our country. Before the political operatives started trying to take over for their own advantage, the tea parties reflected a healthy and welcome reminder that this government was designed originally as one of and by the people.

This is why America needs the tea-party movement, why it should remain nonpartisan and why I have stayed on the stage as a voice for ordinary Americans who have been dealt out of the decisions that affect our lives and our pocketbooks. We are what America was before the special interest groups, political operatives and lobbyists made the political parties in Washington a “difference without a distinction” and made our public policy their private playground.

This is what people mean when they say we “want our country back.” We believe in government that faithfully follows the wishes of average people across the political spectrum - something that has become, dangerously, rarer and rarer.

We can still force change on both parties through grass-roots pressure - and the ballot box. It takes the whole spectrum of political views to fix our nation and restore the role of the citizen. It is why I’ll continue to speak out as long as I can.

Samuel J. “Joe” Wurzelbacher is a grass-roots activist in Holland, Ohio, who promotes America and American ideals.

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