Ryan Binkley

Republican presidential hopeful Ryan Binkley visited Smokey Row in both Oskaloosa and Pella Thursday to spread a campaign message that highlights finding unity in a "broken" culture.

OSKALOOSA — A 2024 presidential hopeful made stops at Smokey Rows in Oskaloosa and Pella on Thursday to spread a campaign message focused on finding unity in a "broken" culture.

Ryan Binkley is a Texas-based businessman, pastor and father of five children. He’s also hoping to become the next President of the United States.

A Republican, Binkley is currently facing off against a field of world-famous career politicians, including former President Donald Trump, current Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, and Nikki Haley, a former governor of South Carolina and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, to name a few. Binkley says God put on his heart to run for president about eight years ago, and wants to focus on fixing the nation’s “cracked foundation,” manifested in the divided culture America is plagued with today.

“Our country is really broken. Really broken, mainly culturally,” Binkley says. “The foundation is what’s cracked a little bit, and it’s the culture.”

Binkley likens America to a company with a toxic work environment and says that this “atmosphere” is harming decision making at the highest levels.

“Our country’s atmosphere is hurting, very divided, unable to make good decisions … Unable to connect like we used to,” he says. “It didn’t always be this way, historically. Ronald Reagan and Tip O’Neill, they would argue, and fight, and go have a glass of wine, then do it again the next day.

"Now, even in our own parties, if we don’t agree with each other 100 percent on everything, we’re not friends, and so we vilify each other to get points and we act different in front of media and on social media than they do behind the scenes to get attention.”

Binkley says the first step to fixing the country’s “broken culture” is for leadership to admit that the nation has a problem and to want to fix it.

Nothing in today’s headlines says “difficult working relationship” quite like the looming debt ceiling crisis and threat of an upcoming national default if Republicans, led by Speaker of the House Keven McCarthy, and Democrats, led by President Joe Biden, cannot work together to come to an agreement on the national budget.

Binkley says the key will be making a budget and sticking to it.

“At the end of the day, we need to have a budget, and we need to stick to it, and that’s the problem,” Binkley says. “We haven’t approved a budget on time in 27 years, so what happens is we keep doing these just reconciliation measures where we just pass on an ongoing measure to just pay for our bills, when in fact, we actually need to pass a budget on time. It needs to be brought up by the President, he needs to be approved by the Congress, and that’s a challenge today.

“Because we’re doing what we’re doing, Republicans don’t really have a strong leg to stand on,” Binkley says. “I think they’re doing what they can do to kind of keep spending in check, and I think that hopefully they’ll come to an agreement soon. Hopefully President Biden will bend a little bit on it, which I think he will, but at the end of the day, they’re going to have to agree to do something soon.”

Another divisive issue the country faces today is the increasing prevalence of gun violence. This year’s news headlines have painted a picture of one mass shooting after another, prompting outrage and calls for new gun legislation.

“Every time there’s a shooting, my heart just melts,” Binkley says, adding that the shooting that took place earlier this month at a shopping center in Allen, Texas was only a few miles from his church.

“We all felt it. Even in church the next day, you could feel the heaviness of it and multiply that times 1,000 for the families and people that were impacted,” Binkley says. “That said, the person that committed that crime, they were troubled in their heart. They’re having a mental health crisis; they’re basically going on a suicide mission … They know they’re going to die. We have to recognize that there’s a big spiritual problem that’s happening with people in our country, and I think we have to start addressing that in a deeper way. What makes somebody want to go do that?”

Binkley says he doesn’t necessarily believe that the answer to gun violence is changing laws in connection with the second amendment. He believes that America should instead focus its attention on addressing mental health issues and investing in “helping people.”

Unfortunately, mass shootings aren’t the only kind of violence up for debate in the 2024 election. Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine continues to be a political issue, as the U.S. faces decisions regarding what kind of aid to offer Ukraine.

“At the end of the day, I think we have to lead. So as a country … anytime a new president comes in, it’s an opportunity to reset the discussion, and I think we would use this opportunity to visit with Russia and Putin and begin to speak with him about what he’s doing and why he’s doing it, and assure him that … we have no intention of invading Russia,” Binkley says.

Binkley's time in Iowa has been a learning experience, he says. He jokes that he’ll be paying more attention to commodity pricing now, after being asked the price of corn and not having an answer to give.

Most of all, he says Americans need to learn how to work together again.

“The greatness that’s in our country is in each other,” he says. “It’s not about, necessarily, a wrong issue or right issue every time. We have to quit vilifying each other. We have to see the good in each other, even if we disagree with them some politically. We have to find things we can agree on and make some good decisions together," he says. 

Channing Rucks can be reached at crucks@oskyherald.com.

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