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Mike Ruby

Mike Ruby

As midterm political campaigns are heating up, we’re caught in the middle whether we like it or not. It’s impossible to ignore the relentless TV, newspaper, radio, social media, phone calls and snail mail efforts to sway our vote. Voting is a privilege and I take that very seriously, but I get weary of the lambasting of opponents that oftentimes defy good sportsmanship and common sense.

As a teen, my friends were from a broad cross section of the socioeconomic spectrum. Several dads were returning from World War II and found good blue collar jobs in factories, providing a comfortable living for their growing families. Other friends came from families who were successful entrepreneurs or had good managerial positions in the factories.

We were all friends who shared years of childhood and teenage experiences and memories. Looking back through the decades I clearly see a division in the political home environments where we were raised. Generally speaking, the “factory friends” were staunch Democrats. Conversation around their kitchen tables focused on union strength, hourly raises, paid vacations, pensions, and strikes. Those were the families who had the JFK and LBJ bumper stickers expecting the government and employers to do more for them.

The “entrepreneur/management friends” heard a different political discussion at home. Many, but not all, of these households were Republican and the dinner table discussion focused on unions being too powerful. People needed to learn to be more financially responsible, save their own money for retirement and not be so dependent on their employer, or the government, to provide for them.

We were not old enough to vote but were still aware of the significant difference in political views. Along with the traditional morals and values parents are expected to teach their children, political views were also a part of that training, whether the parents realized it or not. The political opinions expressed by Mom and Dad oftentimes determine our political allegiance as adults.

We also learned the power struggle for control is fiercely competitive and those running for major political offices who don’t have infinite financial backing usually are eliminated early in the race. Sad, but true. Some things don’t change.

I’m a firm believer in compromise, if that is what it takes to come up with the best solution. Neither Democrats nor Republicans are always right or always wrong. Voting a straight ticket is too narrow minded for me. It’s better to learn information about each candidate and vote for the person, not the party. I guess that’s one reason why I would be a lousy politician. I’m not willing to wear blinders and be 100 percent loyal to a single party. That philosophy makes no sense to me.

Remember, the voting booths will be open soon. It’s everyone’s responsibility to take this privilege seriously. We need to do our homework and select the best candidate, regardless of their political party affiliation.

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Mike Ruby is a Muscatine resident who writes a monthly column for the Journal.


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