If there’s one thing that Gene Rubinstein hears over and over again from Assembly District 42 voters, it’s this: They’re sick of the partisan posturing of both Republicans and Democrats.
That’s why Rubinstein is running as an independent.
“On some issues,” he said, “I’ll come out as a liberal. On some issues, I’ll come out as a conservative. No party has the monopoly on good ideas.”
Partisan gridlock has resulted in a lack of cohesiveness among elected officials, an inability to agree on defining the challenges that face the electorate, let alone their solutions, he said.
“On the local, state and national level,” Rubinstein said, “it’s one group pitted against the other.”
Rubinstein said he hasn’t given any thought to which party, if any, he would caucus with, should he be elected to the Assembly.
On social issues, he said, he leans liberal.
And, to the extent that he thinks businesses often are subjected to unnecessary and burdensome regulations, he would describe his position on business as conservative.
However, he observed at a recent 42nd District candidates’ forum in Lodi, “The business person should be the most liberal of all of us,” in that a good business person would hire the most qualified job candidate, regardless of that candidate’s background or demographics.
Rubinstein said his conversations with prospective voters have shown many of them to be “disheartened” by both parties — a key reason he supports replacing Wisconsin’s current system of having the Legislature draw political boundaries with a non-partisan redistricting commission, which he hopes would establish political districts without considering the likelihood of any candidate or party winning re-election.
Unlike his opponents, Democrat Ann Groves Lloyd and Republican Jon Plumer, Rubinstein wasn’t born and raised in the 42nd District. He lives there by choice, he said, after moving to rural Pardeeville from Florida 13 years ago.
Rubinstein describes his work as “hard recycling,” which entails buying items at thift stores and rummage sales and reselling them online.
Like his opponents, Rubinstein identifies improvement of roads as a vital issue facing the people of the 42nd District.
The solution to deteriorating infrastructure, he said, is “a combination of everything,” including raising the gas tax and increasing vehicle registration fees.
“If we all use the roads,” he said, “we should all pay for them.”
Rubinstein said Wisconsin’s public schools are vital.
And, he said, it’s impossible to profess support for public schools while also supporting diverting tax money from public schools to private school vouchers.
“Public education, folks, is the foundation, the bedrock of our democracy,” he said.
Rubinstein applied a similar approach to the question of whether state officials should offer tax dollars as incentives to lure corporations to Wisconsin, based on the promise of creating jobs — like the $4 billion in state subsidies going to the multinational corporation FoxConn.
“We don’t have the money for roads or education,” he said, “but we have money for a foreign corporation.”
When a Lodi forum attendee asked about recent incidents of gun violence in schools, Rubinstein said the issue is much more widespread.
“It’s not just about school safety,” he said. “It’s concert safety, church safety.”
Rubinstein noted that the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified before the United States had a standing army — which is why, he said, the amendment should not be interpreted as an absolute right of individuals to bear all types of arms under all circumstances.
“We can’t go down the street in a fully functional tank,” he said. “We’ve accepted that.”