16 October 2008

Joe The Plumber, Or Dog-Whistle Politics

Was just thinking about Joe Wurzelbacher, aka Joe the Plumber, and how his interaction with Obama was used in last night's Presidential debate.

Frankly, it disgusted me then, and it disgusts me now, because Joe the Plumber, Joe Six-Pack, and all the other Regular Joes out there are quite commonly used by right-wing politicians to advance a kind of right-wing populist ideology and rhetoric that superficially advances lower-middle-class and working-class people, but, when it comes right down to policies and implementation, benefits the upper classes.

To hear McCain, a scion of the American military leadership class and a long-time member of the American governing classes, mention "Joe the Plumber"(I think he only used Wurzelbach's proper surname once, and that was when he first brought Mr. Wurzelbach up in the debate), as often as he did during the debate pissed me the Hell off, because McCain isn't lower-middle-class or working-class in origin, nor, I will bet, does he spend a whole lot of time with so-called ordinary, reg'lar folks, when and if he can help it.

To me, it's the same kind of dog-whistle politics, as the McCain/Palin campaign's attacks on Obama for his connection, however tenuous, to William Ayres.

"Oooo, gotta watch out fer those lefty-pinko-commie-America-hatin'-Muslim terrorists, don'cha know(wink)???!!!"

Yeah, sure, right.

The fact is, if McCain, Palin and their ilk really love and admire the American middle and working classes, why the Hell have they either worked so hard to get out of those classes, and why do they pursue the kinds of ideas and policies they do.

Quite simple to me, really.

These people have no love, respect, admiration, etc, for Joe the Plumber, Joe Six-Pack, GI Joe, GI Joe, Fighting Man From Head To Toe, whatever one wants to call the so-called average American, except, perhaps, in the comfortably abstract.

Joe What's His Fuck is really more a source of votes, government and business revenue, and, in war-time, a source of cheap, readily expendable cannon fodder to these people, than anyone or anything valuable at all.

But, there are quite a number of so-called ordinary Americans, the Joe and Jane Six-Packs out there, who will fall for this each and every time an election comes 'round.

The reasons for this are various, and will go into them in the next essay-lette I post here.

For now, will sign off by saying that dog-whistle politics only work so long as the dogs come running to the whistle.

Be seeing you.

1 comment:

Burr Deming said...

Your evaluation was, by and large, very much on target. Good post.

Bill Ayres is not himself a significant national figure.

The accusations against Obama do not address the issues of the moment, but they do speak to the more lasting issue of Presidential character.