Man walking across country to 'fix' democracy

June 5, 2024, 6 a.m. ·

Rick Hubbard-Walking to Fix Our Demoracy.jpg
Rick Hubbard waves to traffic on his walk across America to "fix" democracy (photo courtesy of Walking Across America to Fix Our Democracy" Facebook

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At 82 years old, Rick Hubbard is hitting the highways of America to raise awareness of political dysfunction. Hubbard visited with Nebraska Public Media's Dale Johnson about his journey so far, and the road ahead.

DALE JOHNSON: Rick Hubbard has been walking to fix our democracy since October of 2022. Some life challenges interrupted his quest, but he's back on schedule. Resuming his walk, he passed through Lincoln last month, arriving in Omaha on June 6. Rick wants to be in Washington, DC in January for the inauguration of this country's next president. What is it about our democracy that you are hearing from Americans that needs to be fixed?

RICK HUBBARD: When I ask Americans the simple question as neutrally as I can, over the past several decades, how well are they doing in making policy that serves the biggest issues facing all of us? The answer I get, and it's almost universal, is people say, no, that's not happening properly. It's dramatic,

JOHNSON: What else is on the list?

HUBBARD: Fixing it. And there are a bunch of things that can be done, and you and Nebraska are in a good position to do a piece of it. Because you have the citizen initiative process. My state of Vermont doesn't have it. And some states have decided that the primary process is dividing us. It's benefiting the parties more than it's benefiting citizens, and we ought to change that. Most states are going to not have the kind of ballot primary process you had two or three Tuesdays ago. 27% of Nebraskans picked the candidates that 100% of Nebraskans in November are going to vote upon. Instead, what states are doing is saying, hey, why don't we put all those candidates, Republicans, Democrats, independents, etc., on a single ballot, and let 100% Of all the Nebraska voters participate. And then in the general election, let's set it up so that a majority of all people in Nebraska or other states are behind whomever we picked, it's totally nonpartisan.

JOHNSON: I mentioned that you set off on your walk to fix our democracy in the fall of 2022. That was about a year and a half into the Biden administration. What was America telling you then, Rick, and what is America saying today?

HUBBARD: It hasn't changed. For example, most Americans know that we're in a huge crisis to get our pharmaceutical drugs. And that drugs are sold abroad to other countries, at fractions of the same price that we pay, and they're marked up by the pharmaceutical importers, and then they're sold in Germany 40 cents on the dollar. I mean, it's way less than we pay. President Biden talks about Obamacare, and and he talks about we're going to negotiate on 10 of those drugs. The reason those prices are partly so high is the back in 1987. It was Congress, they did it. And Congress, up until that point, pharmaceutical companies abroad mark them up, sold them at 40 cents on the dollar and made money in Germany, but they could mark them up a little more and send them back to America and sell them in America at lower prices. And we were otherwise going to have available, just normal pure competition. Well, Congress made that illegal in 1987, and the prescription drug marketing. I don't hear President Biden telling us about that. He just tells us about the incremental increase in fixing our health care that is never going to actually provide Americans with good quality health care at the least total system wide cost in a way that is sustainable.

JOHNSON: When you run into Washington, when your support staff pulls into Washington with you in January, what are you going to do with all of these fixes that you have from Americans?

HUBBARD: I will do my best to spread them. I've I have a book I wrote one about 20 years ago that's out there called the democracy amendments. But there's another one in the works. It covers all the way you'd evaluate how well our system is serving Americans, what the fixes are, which ones we should be moving towards. No state legislation is moved to make the process there more equitable and inclusive in only states that have moved on dates with citizens have initiated the changes in the Constitution. That doesn't speak very well of the way our legislators are acting.

JOHNSON: Rick is crossing the country arriving in Omaha June 6 on his walk to fix our democracy. He has a very hectic schedule - sort of crazy, so check it out at Rick, good luck. Thank you for your time.

HUBBARD: Thank you.

JOHNSON: I'm Dale Johnson, Nebraska Public Media News.