Q & A: 'Joe the Plumber'
Samuel Wurzelbacher was launched into the public arena after Senator John McCain used him as an example of an average American during a presidential debate last fall. "Joe the Plumber" quickly became a celebrity because he questioned then-candidate Barack Obama about his small business tax policy during a stop in Ohio. Now, Wurzelbacher travels the country promoting his book, campaigning for candidates, and speaking at conservative rallies. Wurzelbacher spoke with Christianity Today at an event near Chicago.
Why does conservatism appeal to you as a Christian?
Conservatism is about the basic rights of individuals. God created us. As far as the government goes, the Founding Fathers based the Constitution off of Christian values. It goes hand-in-hand. As far as the Republican Party? I felt connected to it because individual freedom should not be legislated by the federal government.
One thing I've been thinking about is taking the social issues out of national politics. For example, if Georgia wanted abortion and Alabama didn't, that's going to be up to the people in Georgia. I can't sway them. Would I give them advice not to? Absolutely. Would I say it's wrong? Yes. I'll go to Alabama where they say, "I don't want abortion." Trying to get 350 million people to agree on an issue is not going to happen. That way, people can live the way they want to as opposed to being imposed on by the federal government.
In the last month, same-sex marriage has become legal in Iowa and Vermont. What do you think about same-sex marriage at a state level?
At a state level, it's up to them. I don't want it to be a federal thing. I personally still think it's wrong. People don't understand the dictionaryit's called queer. Queer means strange and unusual. It's not like a slur, like you would call a white person a honky or something like that. You know, God is pretty explicit in what we're supposed to dowhat man and woman are for. Now, at the same time, we're supposed to love everybody and accept people, and preach against the sins. I've had some friends that are actually homosexual. And, I mean, they know where I stand, and they know that I wouldn't have them anywhere near my children. But at the same time, they're people, and they're going to do their thing.
Does the Republican Party reach out to evangelicals enough?
No. None of them stand up for anything. They use God as a punch line. They use God to invoke sympathy or invoke righteousness, but they don't stay the course. That's why I think that all needs to be taken out of the federal level and give it back to the states. We've lost our American history. Every state has "In God we trust" or "With God's help" in their constitution. God is recognized as, if you will, America's religion.
Who do you see as the emerging leaders for the Republican Party?
There isn't one. You got the RNC talking about repackaging principles and values to make them hip and cool to the younger generation. You can't repackage them. They are what they are. You can't make what they are.
I like Sarah Palin a lot, actually. I just don't know if that's where God's leading her. I just know the Republican Party's done its best to blackball her. I don't know what her agenda is. If she ran, would I vote for her? Absolutely. John McCain was the lesser of two evils.
Who do you see as the emerging Christian leaders?
James Dobson. I love Dobson. I love John Eldredge's Wild at Heart. The last book I read was The Five Love Languages [by Gary Chapman].