The Plumber's Son

11/24/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

My dad was a plumber. My dad was a Republican. And if my dad were alive today, he would never vote for John McCain.

My father would respect McCain's service, I have no doubt. But he would be a little angered, I think, by McCain's attempt to connect to the working man through Joe the Plumber; to suggest that a man who would earn $250,000 per year is somehow Mr. Main Street.

My father had plenty of those small-town values that Sarah Palin is always talking about - you know, the values held by the "real America."

Family first, community second and everyone else stand in line. Work hard and then work harder. And if you do well, don't complain when you have to pay your taxes.

Somehow, the Republicans have severed that final value from the first two. Made it seem like some alien concept of the liberal elite.

But if we really value family and community, we've got to acknowledge that we're in this together. We've got to accept that the plumbers pay their fair share - and so do the guys who own the plumbing company. My dad, a gun-owning, free-thinking Republican from rural Pennsylvania believed that. So do I. When my father died 12 years ago, my brother John found a quote from John Gardner:

"An excellent plumber is infinitely more admirable than an incompetent philosopher. The society that scorns excellence in plumbing because plumbing is a humble activity, and tolerates shoddiness in philosophy because philosophy is an exalted activity, will have neither good plumbing nor good philosophy. Neither its pipes nor its theories will hold water."

John McCain is an incompetent philosopher. My dad was an excellent plumber. Pretty good philosopher, too.