Not all conservatives get their start in politics through nepotism. Some start off working for the government and joining a union. Conservative activist Joe "The Plumber" is a member of the United Automobile Workers union and an employee of the Chrysler Corporation. As stated by Joe in a recent Reuter's article, he had "the fortune of being hired by a great company" and hasn't had a problem being a conservative among union members:
"Can a conservative work safely and soundly in a union environment -- in a shop filled with union workers, activists, voters and life-long supporters of the Democrat Party? You betcha," he wrote in a blog post on JoeforAmerica.com... He also wrote that he opposes public unions because "taxpayers are never properly represented at the bargaining table." As for private unions, he wrote that "it's an American worker's right to unionize for sure, but that being said, don't expect me not to point out when or if union leadership takes advantage of union members."
Long before Chrysler, he explains in his blog that after graduating high school, "The Air Force taught me practical skills like plumbing, which is what I did while stationed on bases in Alaska and North Dakota." Therefore, Joe learned plumbing from a government job and is now a union member; two aspects of his past that run contrary to the talking points of most conservatives.
Also, Joe The Plumber is a religious man who attributed President Obama's faith in Christianity to the reason he won the election:
"After Barack Hussein Obama suddenly cast-off his Muslim roots, rejected his mother's disbelief in God, turned tail on the Islam of his early life and converted to Christianity -- BLAM -- he's elected President. Anyone who believes the two things are not connected is being disingenuous at best. I don't know how or when it happened, whether when he was partying at college or five minutes before he first decided to run for office, but it doesn't matter -- he came to Christ and he is my brother."
While Joe's faith might have been the reason Obama won the election, it apparently played a limited role in preventing him from writing an insensitive letter to grieving families. His recent open letter to the families of UC Santa Barbara murder victims stating "your dead kids don't trump my Constitutional rights" isn't exactly the epitome of compassion and spirituality. Theoretically, pious people should refrain from politicizing the death of young people and Joe has seemingly placed Constitutional issues above the pain of mourning parents.
Hypocrisy, however, isn't the reason that the Republican establishment might one day jettison the conservative auto worker and union member. The reality of the Republican Party today is that the conservative establishment and its more extreme Tea Party base are at odds with one another. Nothing illustrates this Republican civil war better than the Tea Party's relationship with Karl Rove. As stated in the conservative website Breitbart.com in 2013, there exists a rift between establishment Republicans and the more grassroots elements of the party:
The battle for the heart and soul of the Republican Party has begun. On one side is the Tea Party. On the other side stand Karl Rove and his establishment team, posing as tacticians while quietly undermining conservatism... The Bush insider team that helped lead to the rise of Barack Obama insists that they, and only they, know the path to victory... But victory for conservatives isn't Rove's goal. He's a political insider par excellence, and he's playing for his political life in the aftermath of 2012. If that means declaring war on the Tea Party, so be it.
The rivalry between the Mitt Romney wing of the Republican Party and the more ideological voters summarizes why Joe The Plumber risks an ignoble fate. If the real decision makers in the Republican Party (the establishment leaders like Karl Rove who nominate the most liberal Republicans like McCain and Romney for president) eventually view Joe The Plumber in the same manner as they viewed Cliven Bundy, then Joe might have a problem.
The Cliven Bundy fiasco is a perfect case study to evaluate Joe The Plumber's utility to the Republican Party. Sean Hannity went from being concerned with Bundy's cause (giving him airtime and being sympathetic to his anti-government diatribes) to someone who found Bundy's comments on race to be "beyond disturbing" and "repugnant." As a result, Cliven Bundy's daughter, Shiree Bundy Cox, explained in a Facebook post how Hannity abandoned her father:
Sean Hannity was all for reporting the happenings at the Bundy Ranch until this popped up. I wonder if someone hoped it would be that way...By the way, I think Mr. Hannity is more worried about his ratings than he really is about what my dad said. If he supports a supposed racist, what will that do to his ratings? He's already lost his #1 spot on Fox.
Just like Hannity gave Bundy a platform to air his grievances, the Republican establishment is giving Joe The Plumber a voice for the moment -- in order to reach the Bundy voters Hannity just recently abandoned.
The sad reality is that Joe The Plumber is being used by Republicans in the same manner Sean Hannity used the Cliven Bundy saga to bash the government. Joe The Plumber should realize that one wrong move -- a slip of the tongue, or perhaps even his real thoughts on race or American history -- could result in abandonment by the same people who made him famous. Like the Tea Party's contempt for Karl Rove (their one similarity with liberals), Joe's latest message to grieving families is part of the Republican civil war -- an ideological battle that utilizes the passions of working men and women to the advantage of establishment conservatives.
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