What prompted me to become a Republican?

Published 7:58 am Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The first year I was eligible to vote, I didn’t! I knew that I was not informed about the candidates running or the current issues. I was independent enough to know that I was not going to vote, just to vote the way my dad told me to vote.

I really do not remember what specific issue or candidate influenced me to vote Republican. I had family members. Uncles, grandfather and, of course, my dad, who were pretty vocal and were of both political philosophies.

I was a serious young person. I took my Christian faith very seriously, and when it came time to decide what political philosophy was nearest to mine, I took that very seriously as well. The philosophy of Abraham Lincoln made sense to me.

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I happened upon the “Ten Cannots” popularly attributed to Abraham Lincoln but actually written in 1916 by the Rev. William J. H. Boetcker:

1. “You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift.”

2. “You cannot help small men by tearing down big men.”

3. “You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.”

4. “You cannot lift the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer.”

5. “ You cannot help the poor man by destroying the rich.”

6. “You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than your income.”

7. “You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inviting class hatred.”

8. “You cannot establish security on borrowed money.”

9. “You cannot build character and courage by taking away man’s initiative and independence.”

10. “You cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they could and should do for themselves.”

Then I met my husband. I really do not remember whether we spoke of our political beliefs. Later I was to learn that the Ruble family, hard-working farm laborers, were conservatives for many generations. Though my husband and I differed on certain issues, sharing the same political philosophy did make for a more compatible relationship.

One day early in our marriage two women came to my door. Many of you know them. Marge Hamersly and Carol Nelson. They were active in the Freeborn County Republican Party, which at the time had a very large and active group of young Republicans. They were recruiting. I don’t know how I got on their list, maybe because they assumed since my husband’s family was Republican I had to be as well. That was the beginning of nearly 50 years of varied degrees of political activism. Over those many years I met many good people who believed as I did that we had to attempt to make a difference. I also have learned that there are people of both parties with the same goals. We have more beliefs in common than our differences. The difference is how we arrive at those common goals.

I found out what “grass roots” meant. There were resolution meetings before conventions where anyone can bring issues, ideas and they can become part of first the county, then the district, state and finally becoming included in the national platform — what the party stands for.

I remember sitting in state convention with my neighbor delegate blowing smoke in my face as I voted for no-smoking legislation. There were many issues that we now take for granted that had their beginning in those conventions. When the pro-life/pro choice issue had its beginning, there were many very tense and very emotional conventions. The Republican Party became even more conservative.

Today, there is apathy toward politics. I can understand why. But I still firmly believe that our voices can make a difference. Staying home talking to your friends about all that is not right in government is not going to change it. Patriot Thomas Paine wrote, “Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must undergo the fatigue of supporting it.” If we are going to have a government of the people for the people we need the involvement of intelligent informed people. We need young people committed to holding those in government accountable, not just for themselves but also for our children and grandchildren.

Why am I a Republican? I believe that the right of individuals to achieve the best that is within themselves, as long as they respect the rights of others, is the source of our nation’s strength. I believe that the most effective government is government closest to the people. I believe that the preservation of our nation and the security of our citizens depend upon the constitution, the law and the courts, and that respect for them is the responsibility of every individual. I believe that it is essential to maintain a strong national defense, that we may at all times negotiate from a position of strength, not weakness in our efforts toward world peace and friendship.

Idealistic? Probably. We have seen many changes, since Abraham Lincoln. We could debate forever about the good and the not so good. However, I doubt that anyone would deny that we live in a wonderful country and we are blessed. Recently the emphasis as been to get everyone registered to vote and to get him or her to the polls.

Unfortunately, many of us go to the polls, vote for the people we believe best represent us and then return to our busy lives, trusting that whoever is elected will do what they have promised to do. No matter how well intentioned these candidates may be, once in office they face a “system” of long standing. Once elected they need US to be supportive, to be watchful, to be vocal and to remind them of the great responsibilities they have assumed.

Come and join us. Meet the potential candidates. Have a voice in who that candidate will be. Have a voice in current issues, BE a candidate. Make a difference!

Over the years, since that first time I took so seriously for whom I would vote, I have been disappointed. I have worked very hard for candidates who were not the people we thought they were. Have I asked myself many times if it was a good use of my time, my effort, my financial resources, as well as time from my family? I have.

Also, I have seen that little people such as me can have a voice. I still get tears in my eyes when during a parade the flag goes by, or when they play our national anthem, “America” or “America the Beautiful.” With all its faults, struggles and challenges, it is still a great country and in some small way I hope my efforts were not in vain.

Maureen Ruble resides at 72778 County Road 46 near Albert Lea and is a member of the Freeborn County Republican Party.