What Sen. Evan Bayh and Joe the Plumber Have in Common

They’ve bailed on the only political system we’ve got.

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Being a U.S. senator is arguably the best political job in the country. It has most of the prestige and almost none of the accountability of being president of the United States.


But Sen. Evan Bayh—age 54, with solid poll numbers and a helmet of hair straight out of central casting—is stepping down from his seat because, he says: “I don’t love Congress.”

Being an outspoken, grassroots, blue-collar conservative who’s so famous that he’s known simply as “Joe the Plumber,” seems like a perfect starting point from which to launch a run for Congress. But instead Sam Wurzelbacher, a/k/a Joe the Plumber, would rather carp from the sidelines, saying now that his political patron, Sen. John McCain “is no public servant.”

It’s hard to question someone else’s motives for wanting—or not wanting—something. Maybe Bayh lost his taste for public life. Maybe Joe never had it. But either way, both of them are abandoning the political process and form of government that they claim to admire—right when others have just started to engage.