Donor Spotlight: Jim Rubens
Within the American Promise community, we find a diversity of perspectives that parallels our nation’s many differing viewpoints. Here we have taken a few minutes to speak with some of the investors, leaders, and partners in this movement to discuss interests, learn about occupations and preoccupations, uncover current and historical heroes, and find common ground around a shared commitment to the American Promise mission.
What is your occupation?
Entrepreneur. Investor. Semi-retired. I spend probably a third, maybe even half my time as a volunteer and as a board member of American Promise.
I’ve started and run probably ten companies. I semi-retired in my early forties and ran for state Senate in New Hampshire. I had never held office before, but I won a fairly intense election and served in the New Hampshire State Senate for a couple of terms. I loved doing that work.
The New Hampshire state legislature is not like big states. Every bill that any member of the legislature wants to come to the floor can come to the floor. It’s very open. I can tell you – I’ve heard this time and time again – even three personal phone calls to a member of the legislature in New Hampshire can impact that legislator’s view of that particular bill. Our state legislature is very accessible. Compare that to securing a conversation with a member of the United States Senate.
Getting the American Promise campaign money amendment ratified! I see it connected to many other issues I believe have reached crisis levels in the United States. National security, debt, and internal conflict threats can be traced to a considerable extent to the control of billions of dollars of campaign money in such a small number of hands.
What is your current state of mind?
Seriously worried about our nation. [First], we have a dangerous level of public debt. It is weakening our economy, and our national security.
The second major concern I have is the degree of public disgust, policy gridlock, and the tuning out and loss of confidence by the public in our government.
These two things – national debt, and unresolved internal dispute – are deeply threatening to the well-being of our nation. Fortunately, we have a way to address them – this amendment.
What are you reading/watching now?
I just completed a book by Ray Dalio, The Changing World Order. He echoes, using technical language, some of the concerns I have about our system. On a lighter note, and a very optimistic note, I have finished a book called Sapiens, which was published a few years ago. [The author, Yuval Noah Harari], expresses alarm about where we as human beings are. Both authors and I agree with them, are optimistic about the human capacity to overcome problems in our complex world. We learn. I’m optimistic because humans have resolved serious past challenges. But we’re going to have to invent better ways of dealing with complexity.
I’m conservative, I’m republican, so I love the idea of innovators having access to capital, access to a free market. We’re doing great things as humans. When we cooperate, we accelerate the process of making lives better.
Which living person do you most admire?
As a Republican showing cooperative spirit, I admire former president Jimmy Carter, a person who has achieved a pinnacle of power in the United States, and as you know he has become a supporter of our amendment at American Promise. He sets a remarkable example post-Presidency in dedicating his life to human betterment.
Which historical figure(s) do you most identify with?
President Teddy Roosevelt. A political buccaneer, a pioneer. He took amazing risks in his ascendancy to the Presidency. He tackled a period of United States history that is somewhat analogous to our own. He helped resolve some of the concentrations of power that accumulated during our Gilded Age.
What drew you to American Promise?
My experience in the state Senate. My experience as a volunteer, and as a public activist. My runs for the United States Senate showed me how the system works. How the system could work, did work, does work in New Hampshire, and how the system works at a federal level. My concerns are focused on gridlock and policy distortion at the national level.
I have witnessed how our system of free-market capitalism has become warped into crony capitalism, where economic advantages can be gained by buying politics, through our campaign money system, and through lobbying. Crony capitalism has resulted in a diminution of the United States’ competitiveness. I believe this money system is seriously threatening national security and the future prosperity of the United States of America.
Do you have anything else you want to add?
When we get this amendment ratified, we’ll show Americans big, difficult things can be tackled. I think it’s going to raise spirits, that problems this large can be resolved. We’ll show Americans with differing points of view that big problems can be tackled in a way that we can agree upon. And our amendment – this is making me smile – our amendment is supported by supermajorities of people of both political persuasions. People on the left, and people on the right agree that we don’t like this system of highly concentrated power. Regardless of which specific issues you think are important. If we can increase the voice of average Americans, frustration levels will go down. Policy gridlock in Washington will be reduced, and we will be doing a lot to put America back on the path of widely shared prosperity, enhanced national security, a more competitive economy, and greater well-being where we’re more satisfied with our lives. Get involved with American Promise.