Presidential politics have fallen into gutter

Published 9:59 am Thursday, October 23, 2008

OK, it was funny for a while. It was entertaining for a while. It was even thought-provoking for a while.

But now, I’ve had just about enough of Joe the Plumber.

I’ve seen more of Joe Wurzelbacher’s bald head than our News Editor Mark Shaffer’s. And I see him practically every day.

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OK, that might be a slight exaggeration. It’s hard to miss Mark’s bald head.

But the point is, I’m more than a little bit curious why this plumber from the Toledo area was suddenly thrust into the middle of the presidential campaign.

It got so bad that after the latest debate that referenced him, it brought a smart-aleck remark from MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann.

After coming back from a commercial break, Olbermann shouted, “BREAKING NEWS! Joe the Plumber has gone to bed!”

It’s not that I don’t appreciate the input of everyday Americans like Joe Wurzelbacher. In fact, there should be more of it on a regular basis.

But this one guy, all the time? I’m sure even Joe has to sit back and wonder, “Why do all these people care so much about me?”

Well, honestly, we don’t.

That’s the thing about politics, there’s never really any way to reach the “Average Joe” in America, because all of the Average Joes and Averages Janes have a different story to tell because of their very different circumstances.

And that got me to thinking. Really, I care more about Bobby Shaffer’s opinion on the presidential race than I do Joe Wurzelbacher’s.

At least Bobby Shaffer is a local plumber.

So I called him.

And what I got from him was what I expected to get from him.

“I’ll just be glad when it’s all over,” he said.

And there it is. The real answer from a real person who has a real perspective.

You see, there are more people in this world like Bobby Shaffer than there are Joe Wurzelbachers.

They are people who get up every day, go to work, do their best to provide for their families and live their own versions of the American dream.

And when it comes right down to getting the perspective on this presidential election, it doesn’t take a plumber, or a carpenter, or a lawyer, or a doctor, or a newspaper editor to tell us what we already know.

Which is there is a reality that on Nov. 5 when all the dust has started to settle, their day-to-day lives will not change that much.

Perhaps certain aspects of a national domestic policy will have some minor impact down the road, but they’ll get up and go to work each day and continue their quest for happiness no matter who wins the presidency.

And truth be told, it is our local leaders and state leaders who will have the most impact on our quality of life in the Ohio Valley. They are the ones who do the legwork in economic development and are behind the scenes doing their best to serve local people.

Bobby Shaffer is 39 years old and has been a plumber for 20 years. And he knows like most that the political process is full of propaganda and nonsense.

When asked about his point of view on the presidential race, he said with a little chuckle, “I’m not getting into all that.”

This isn’t to suggest that Bobby Shaffer or other people are not engaged. Quite the contrary in my opinion.

The real truth is that they’re turned off because of the way we elect presidents. That is with negative advertising, political spin, underhanded tactics from operatives and, generally, the type of discourse that would have been unacceptable to the founders of this country both parties so readily reference.

So as a newspaper editor who has covered both candidates, had access to campaign leaders and seen what these parties have to offer, I believe I can give readers a professional assessment. …

I’ll just be glad when it’s all over.