I started the conversation by asking what it was like being a congressman.
“How is it? Well, you know, there’s a lot of things to love, there’s a lot of things to hate about it, but I’m glad I’m there,” he said.
“Hate? That’s a strong word,” said Executive Editor Greg Burton. “What do you hate about it?”
“I think that the most frustrating thing about this Congress is that we continue to have sort of the hyper-partisan political gamesmanship. We need to move beyond that. We need to be able to find common ground, to work together and put solutions above ideology. I think that we’re still stuck in that bickering, but we’re making progress.”
To his credit, Rep. Ruiz is a member of the No Labels group, an organization launched in January in hopes of ending partisan gridlock. It now has 37 Republicans, one independent, 43 Democrats and dozens of bipartisan bills introduced.
One of those is the 21st Century Health Care for Heroes Act, which Ruiz cosponsored with Republican Chris Gibson of New York, a retired Army colonel who helped provide relief in Haiti after the January 2010 earthquake – along with Dr. Ruiz. The bill would bridge the gap between the Veterans Affairs electronic health records and Department of Defense electronic health records and reduce the backlog of veteran benefit requests. The Desert Sun has endorsed this bill.
I support No Labels and I’m proud that our representative is part of it. For most of my 38 years as a voter, I’ve been registered as an independent. The exception was when I lived in north San Diego County, where Republicans were so dominant the real decisions were made in the primary. But I’ve always tried to judge candidates based on their own ideas, not on how faithfully they follow the party line.
Rep. Ruiz calls himself a pragmatic optimist, and I think that’s accurate. He sincerely believes that a freshman member of the minority party can make difference in a House with 435 inflated egos. We’ll see.
Most of what the editorial board covered with Rep. Ruiz will be discussed in the Newsmaker Q&A on Monday’s Opinion page. You can get a sneak peek at our video, discussing the Health Care for Heroes Act, on Sunday at mydesert.com/video
Tomorrow’s Valley Voice: Hilary Christiansen, a poet and a member of the Palm Springs Writers Guild board, reflects on the differences between South Carolina and the Coachella Valley following a summer trip.
“As I nursed an army of mosquito bites that had invaded my skin, I reflected on the healing effect that the Coachella Valley has on my soul,” she writes. “It is an oasis of open-mindedness, tolerance and activism.
“Columbia lies at the confluence of two rivers, the Saluda and the Broad, which merge to form the Congaree River. Converging to shape my overall experience of this ‘Capital of Southern Hospitality’ were divergent impressions.
“On the one hand, I was smitten with its inhabitants’ graciousness. And, I enjoyed visiting Columbia’s various attractions, including Lake Murray, which made me think of our deteriorating Salton Sea’s potential, if restored. On the other hand, I was bothered by bigoted views, like pesky mosquitoes.”