Honoring Art Rubin; the Joys of Activism


Last night Mikki and I attended a banquet honoring Arthur E. Rubin, a pioneer, volunteer, and elder statesman in the Tulsa County Republican Party. Art, now in his 80s, campaigned for Wendell Wilkie in 1940, helped reorganize the local party after big losses in 1958, and has been in the party leadership ever since. He got Jim Inhofe started in elective politics, and has been an encouragement and supporter of countless other candidates, including John Sullivan and Bill LaFortune. He's a man of strong convictions, and a frequent writer of letters to the editor. When he started, Tulsa County was 4-1 Democrat; today, the county is solidly Republican.

The evening included an impression performance by the Trojanaires, Jenks High School's show choir, and a slide show starting with Art's early days on the farm near Fairland, Oklahoma, through his service in World War II, his wedding, and his many travels with his wife. The photo that got the biggest laugh was of him riding bareback on a donkey while on a visit to Greece -- a humorous illustration of his life's work.

Half the fun of these events is getting to talk to elected officials and other activists and hear some of the inside scoop, which of course I can't share in this forum. I will simply say that for someone as fascinated by politics as I am, talking to these folks is like "an adult Christmas every day", as Rush Limbaugh says about his radio show.

Not many years ago, I was on the outside looking in. I was interested in politics, but felt unable to make much of a difference. I had been involved in the late '80s and early '90s, but was frustrated by some of the internal party politics and backed off to invest more time in my church.

Sometime in the mid '90s, on the ok.general Usenet group, Dale Switzer, a computer engineer who was active in the GOP, mentioned that he had been part of a group of activists and leaders who effectively chose between two high-profile candidates for a major office. Both gentlemen were interested in the office, and were viable candidates, but as a result of the influence of activists like Dale one of the two filed for office, ran, won and served for many years, and the other never filed for the race. I asked Dale how he managed to get into such an influential position, and he said it was by being a dedicated, involved foot soldier in the party. It certainly wasn't money or power.

In the intervening years, I learned that Dale was absolutely right. As I've been constructively involved in campaigns and party-building, as well as civic issues, more people have come to know and trust me, and some of the friends I've made are now in influential positions. Many activists have had the thrill of seeing a candidate elected to high office, having helped knock doors or raise money for his first city council campaign. Politicians, the good ones, at any rate, remember and remain grateful to the folks who were with them from the beginning.

So if you love politics but feel left out, go volunteer, get involved, even if what you are doing seems insignificant. No one is going to appreciate the brilliance of your ideas until they see the sweat of your brow. Once you've demonstrated your bona fides, the doors begin to open. And doggone if it isn't a hoot!

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on May 11, 2003 12:19 AM.

Fine Arts Day was the previous entry in this blog.

Hard vs. Soft America is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.



Subscribe to feed Subscribe to this blog's feed:
[What is this?]