Ordinary Republican



Photo by Gaia Armellin | Unsplash

In my home state of Wisconsin, our Republican Congressional candidates got 1,661,339 votes and took 5 out of our 8 districts. Joe Biden got 1,630,673. Donald Trump got 1,610,065. Election security was not the problem. The problem was the candidate. Welcome to Wisconsin – home of close statewide elections.


In my opinion, Wisconsin Republicans need to get past 2020 and move on. The same goes for Republicans nationwide. As a dues-paying Republican, I am privileged to attend party functions. Meeting and listening to the candidates is valuable to me— and I enjoy it. This year, there were many speeches about election security. It is OK, for local officials to constantly work on that. Our elections are not perfect. They are very good. In a state that routinely has elections within 1% every vote matters. Having our candidates harp on election security in ads is not a great strategy. We need to learn from the Georgia senate runoffs.


As a professional truck driver, I don’t miss work. Every day during the pandemic, I showed up and did my job. It is what I have always done and been glad to do it. Enhanced unemployment benefits drove me nuts. Here, I was working 55 hours per week while people stayed at home and were just as well off. That is the conservative in me.  You work and make good decisions, like getting vaccinated and wearing a mask. You get ahead.


Observant truckers get to see how the economy works. We see small businesses. Those entrepreneurs who risk it all. Shoot, I remember how nervous I was when I signed the loan to buy my first truck. My house was the collateral. That guy in central Minnesota who manufactures the rubber mats that are used for kids’ baseball and softball had the gumption to start a business He employs a dozen people. As a Republican – I admire that guy.


That Muslim man in Detroit started a scrap paper company.  That guy was invited into his office. We chatted. He had the ten commandments hanging on the wall. I have read the bible and been a mediocre Sunday school teacher. The ten commandments seemed out of place, so I asked him. He said that they were hanging on the wall when he moved in. He read them and he liked them, so he didn’t take them down.  I respect that man.


Business owners should want other business owners to succeed. Everyone who does business with me should be better off because they did. If a customer was in a bind, I try to help them. Bending them over for an extra buck is wrong. Business should not be about the quick buck.  Business should be about finding a need and filling it. Most business owners that I know are not seeking help from the government. They just want the government less involved in their business. It is part of what Republicans are supposed to be about.


I remember that $2.10 an hour job at Sears. The lessons that I learned there lasted longer than Sears did. That customer who returned a bent screwdriver and told me that he bent it unscrewing a shock on his car. It was a lie. I knew it was a lie. He knew it was a lie, and I replaced the screwdriver. I asked the store manager why, and he explained to me that we were in business to stay in business. We gave our word that the screwdriver was unconditionally guaranteed, and we stood by our word. That is what we do.  I learned more than I earned at that job. That is not a bad thing.


Ordinary Republicans are not starry-eyed idealists. We know that government and some regulations are necessary. Regulations should encourage a competitive market. We can look at the way big pharma has operated and wonder how any company can maintain a monopoly over medication for decades. The competition is good. Instead of regulating prices, the government should be encouraging competition.


This ordinary Republican does not want a culture war. Too many of our politicians seem to believe that an open mind is a bad thing. That goes for both parties. Both parties keep drifting to extremes. Our primary system is screwed up. Open primary elections are good, but they are not the problem. The problem is that too many ordinary Republicans and Democrats don’t show up. At the very least we need to vote in the primary.  If you can do more, do more. Join your party. Stand up. Speak out. Tell the truth.


In the trucking industry, we want freight to get from the shipper to the consignee safely, on time, and in good shape. That takes cooperation between shipper, receiver, and trucking. Ship it on time. Secure the freight. Transport it safely. Why can’t we do it in politics? It seems as if in politics the shipper wants to load the freight, not secure it, seal it and not give the transporter access to it. Then when freight arrives at the consignee broken – blame the trucker. That does not work in my industry. Maybe it works in politics, but it does not work in governance.


Ordinary Republicans want solutions. My BA degree probably cost me about $10,000 in tuition, and I needed student loans to pay for it. Paying them back wasn’t easy, but they were a lot less than today’s student loans. Let’s look for solutions, not political points. A college degree is a long-term asset. Its value lasts a good 40 years or so. Why can’t we set the loans up like real estate loans? I went to school at night and worked during the day. One of my grandsons will graduate from high school next spring. He will have earned enough college credits to start college as a Junior. Instead of making political stances let’s find solutions. To me, that is what being an ordinary Republican – and an ordinary Democrat do.


Ordinary Republicans realize that hardline stances favored by the MAGA wing of the party can win nominations and lose general elections. We saw how Kansans voted on the abortion issue. At the same time, we see MAGA candidates wanting to force rape victims to give birth. We can’t win with that stance. We have to realize that winning party nominations are worthless without general election victories. Nominating candidates like, Oz, Masters, Vance, and Walker will lose us the senate majority. Maybe it is a lesson that we will learn in November.


There is no doubt that this ordinary Republican is frustrated with his party and his government. In the past few years, I have been called a RINO, a communist, and been told that people like me are what is wrong with America – by supposed Republicans. I am an old dog trucker, who has been flipped off a thousand times for doing my job as safely as possible. Do you think that calling me a name will somehow change who I am? It won’t. The Republican party cannot win by standing on something that is not true. We cannot win by staking out extreme positions. Alienating ordinary Republicans is not the path to victory. I will not vote for GOP candidates that stake such positions. You may call me a RINO – but I think Reagan Republican.


Jeff Clark

Jeff is a 34-year veteran truck driver. He earned a BA in Business Administration from Governors State University. During the day, Jeff loaded trucks, and at night he went to class. The overall health of professional truckers is one of Jeff’s major concerns. Jeff became a runner and has finished 11 full marathons.

After being featured in Runners World magazine in 2009, Jeff started a Facebook group to encourage other truckers to exercise. Truckin’ Runners currently has over 1,000 members. Jeff wrote columns for Drivers Health and Truckers News magazines between 2009-2012. After that, he was one of 6 owner operators chosen to represent Freightliner in their Team Run Smart program. He has left the program, but still remains an active advocate for truckers

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