By Ron VandenBoom
He calls himself an average Joe, but perhaps average isn't the right way to describe the former Ripley, Ohio journalist who passed through Havre Monday following the Lewis and Clark Trail.
You see this "average Joe" wants to be president of the United States.
Republican Joe Schriner announced his intention to run on April 30, at the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia and has since traveled thousands of miles with his wife Liz and two children, Sarah and Joseph, spreading his political message on the campaign trail.
At the heart of Schriner's message is what he calls "Voluntary Simplicity."
"A lot of people in government are calling for tax cuts," he said. "We're asking people to start thinking about lifestyle cuts. To cut back on the size of their house, their car, perhaps the number of clothes in the closet and to pay more attention to the inner-city and the third world."
Schriner's message of simplicity derives, in part, from his desire to return to a simpler life where communities looked after themselves and were less dependent on the federal government. There is also a desire to focus more attention on what people can do for people and less on what dollars can do for people.
"We think we're doing real well as far as the economics of the country are concerned, and that has always seemed to be the yardstick for how the country's going," Schriner said. "But then you look at the other issues going on in America right now, where we got a 60 percent divorce rate and the nuclear family's been blown apart. We have abject poverty in the inner city; we have violence increasing among the teens and society in general. It seems really skewed on this part of the scale."
Schriner said cutting back on some of the material aspects of life will leave people more time for family, community, and "if they have faith, they seem to have more time for God."
Schriner said his philosophy of "Voluntary Simplicity" spills over into other political venues such as the educational system where he advocates at least a third of the curriculum be directed toward community volunteer work.
"We think it would give people a much more rounded education than it is right now," he said. "We're producing kids that have a lot of skill ... but we have all these social issues that need to be addressed."
The same attitude could go a long way toward solving problems with Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, he said.
While it's important to keep Social Security System viable, Schriner also feels it's important to include seniors back into society.
"We think Social Security is more than just money," he said. "We think Social Security is also about a place in society and place in family. ..."
Medicare and Medicaid is also a subject where "Volunteer Simplicity" means returning to the community many of the responsibilities associated with health care. This includes pregnancy crisis programs and a ban on abortion.
Schriner said he would also like to see a greater concentration on preventative medicine.
World politics is an area where Schriner said he wants to see total nuclear disarmament coupled with a Peace Corps type involvement with other countries. Again the focus is on the community to take an active role by bypassing governments and establishing links with Russia and other third-world countries.
"Russia sits on the brink of returning to communism," Schriner said.
He said he believes his approach will calm a lot of third-world trouble spots "where we have to keep going in and putting out fires."
Schriner said his views on cutting back on materialism has not led to any major donations from corporate America and his campaign has so far been completely grass-roots based.
"When people hear about us and what we stand for and what we're all about, it starts to resonate," he said. "It's really been an amazing thing."
Schriner's greatest challenge right now he said is "to make sure everybody out here know that we're out here."
Schriner has also created a web site at www.voteforjoe.com. Interested parties can drop by to learn more about this no ordinary Joe.