The Kubackis of East Falls: Plenty of cats, characters and libertarian views [UPDATE]

    [UPDATE] Tex Kubacki watched the final presidential debate from college in Utah. The Philadelphia native is the son of a Republican, but he’s a libertarian. 

    Here’s the latest comment on the election by the Kubacki family in East Falls. For the original story, see below. 

    Tuesday, Oct. 23

    Last night’s final debate between President Obama and Mitt Romney was not as combative as the second. We checked in with families from our series “The Stakes: Local Families View the Election” to find out how the debate played in their living rooms.

    Tex Kubacki watched from off at college in Utah. The Philadelphia native is the son of a Republican, but he’s a libertarian.

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    “Well, it wasn’t much of a debate,” he said. “I mean, they agreed on everything pretty much. I’m not going to declare a winner.”


    Monday, Oct. 22

    The following is a post by Michael Kubacki about modern debates:

    One serious problem with presidential debates is the moderator. These events would be far more civilized if there were two microphones, two candidates, a stage and nothing else. Any other rules would be agreed to by the two debaters, and by them alone.

    When I suggest this, the typical objection is that there would be chaos. I doubt it. Putting people on their honor often works better than depositing them in a legalistic framework where outsiders have to enforce the rules. Our current system tends to relieve the participants of any responsibility for their own behavior.

    Here in America, for example, we have “stop” signs, “prepare to stop” signs and “stop sign ahead” signs. In Europe, conversely, there are places that have eliminated traffic controls altogether, without any resulting “chaos.” In fact, they are safer than similar locales in the U.S.

    After all, there was no moderator in the Lincoln-Douglas debates, but they seemed to manage.

    Wednesday, Oct. 17

    After Oct. 17’s presidential debate, we called the families from our series “The Stakes: Local Families View the Election.”

    Michael Kubacki watched “no more than 10 minutes” of the debate.

    He believes that contemporary debates have devolved into uninteresting fluff. 

    “I would like to see a debate without a moderator,” he said. “Two guys on the stage, no agenda, and they each have a microphone.”

    Michael, who is planning to vote for Mitt Romney, also found it annoying that undecided voters got all the attention during Tuesday’s debate. 

    “These are the really important people?” he asked. “I would assume they’re just living on their couch, watching Honey Boo-Boo all the time.”

    Last week, Michael’s son, Tex, was undecided.

    When a reporter pointed this out, Michael said, “My son says many things. I think my son is probably going to vote for Gary Johnson.”

    When reached over the phone in Utah, Tex said he has made up his mind. Just as his dad predicted, he’s planning to vote for Gary Johnson, the Libertarian presidential candidate.

    “The Republican party had a chance to include people like me in the whole discussion of what’s going to happen to the Republican party in the next few years,” said Tex. “They didn’t.”


    Michael Kubacki is a family man. But not like Danny Tanner or Bill Cosby. He’s weirder than that, and he doesn’t mind saying so.

    “Yeah, I’m a crank. Don’t you think I’m a crank?” he asks a visitor.

    He lives with his wife, Susanne, and two cats, Bubba and Seven — so named because it was their seventh cat at the time. His 22-year-old son, Tex, is a graduate student at the University of Utah.

    When Tex was younger, Michael took on most of the day-to-day responsibilities of raising him, while Susanne got her consulting business off the ground.

    “I think of those as my happiest years,” Michael Kubacki says.

    He’s a fun-loving dad. One time, Michael had a plaque made honoring the scientist Dmitri Mendeleev, all because Tex was a big fan. Then, in the dead of night, he secretly placed the plaque in East Fall’s McMichael Park. 

    “It drove the ladies who sort of think they own the park, it drove them insane,” he recalls with evident glee. “Because it had concrete footings, they couldn’t dig it out.”

    Michael Kubacki sees these same family values in a man less eccentric than himself: Mitt Romney. Michael plans to vote for the Republican presidential candidate in November.


    “I like the fact that I can picture him and his wife praying together, praying on their knees together.”

    A man of party, so to speak

    Michael is a political junkie who’s watching the election closely. He recently penned a 900-word essay about why he thinks Romney will win, which was signed, “Often wrong, but never uncertain.”

    Every four years, he throws a party to celebrate America going to the polls.

    “There’s always a big pot of chili on the stove and usually some leftover Halloween candy,” he says. “And we sit around and eat and drink and cheer and weep.”

    His wife, Susanne, is a libertarian. But she doesn’t care that much about politics, and declined to be interviewed. Tex is also a libertarian. In the 2008 election, he voted for Ron Paul as a write-in.

    This year, he’s undecided.

    “I’d be much more willing to vote for Romney than I would, say, McCain,” Tex reports by phone from Utah.

    That’s because he didn’t support U.S. Sen. John McCain’s campaign-finance reform. These days, Tex cares most about energy independence. He’s studying mining engineering, and he wants companies to be able to mine so that he can have a job.

    But on energy issues, he admits he doesn’t see that Romney and President Barack Obama are all that different.

    “I think they’re fairly similar,” Tex says. “I don’t think Obama is necessarily anti-drilling. There have been new permits approved in the Gulf, etc.”

    Living the big issue

    For Michael, this election is about jobs.

    “I am, I suppose, one of those underemployed people that you read about in the employment statistics.”

    Before 2008, Michael worked at Media F/X, the business he co-owns with his wife. They consulted for companies such as GlaxoSmithKline on graphic design, Web development and branding.

    “Around 2008, with the economic meltdown that crushed a number of people, we found that there was just not enough work for the two of us,” Michael says.

    While Susanne worked to keep the business afloat, Michael got a job at Target stocking shelves. He’s been doing that for 3-1/2 years. And he doesn’t see a Democratic victory improving his prospects.

    “I do see four more years of Obama being like the last four years: continuing impoverishment, continuing asset destruction, increased unemployment, dead economy getting deader,” he predicts. “And that’s going to affect me. I’m not a rich guy.”

    Still, Romney isn’t his ideal candidate.

    “In terms of presidential candidates, I like people who believe in something,” he says. “Romney is not that person. Romney is a technocrat.”

    But, Michael says, this election is not really about Romney. It’s a referendum on Obama, he says, and that assertion gets him on a rhetorical roll.

    “Elections where an incumbent is running for a second term are always about the incumbent and about his performance,” he says. They’re not about Ann Romney’s horse. They’re not about Bain Capital. They’re not about the challenger’s tax returns. They’re not about who’s going to buy Sandra Fluke’s birth control pills.”

    Michael disagrees with Obama on everything from immigration to his use of executive orders in the face of Congressional gridlock. The stakes, for him, are high.

    “I see four more years of Obama as being basically the end of America as we know it,” he says.

    Heat up the chili

    Wow, so the mood might be a little tense in the early going at Michael’s Election Day party. Tex is in Utah, so he won’t be able to make it this year. But he remembers the get-togethers fondly.

    “I remember some of them going pretty late into the night as people were waiting for Hawaii to start reporting and stuff like that,” Tex says. He says something about his dad that not every son gets to say: “He likes to throw a lot of parties.”

    Michael says he always enjoys the partying on Election Day with his wife, relatives and friends, even if doesn’t always like the election results.

    But, this year, he’s betting that his guy will win.

    Check back here to see updates as NewsWorks follows the experiences and thoughts of the Kubackis of East Falls experiences during this election season.


    Other family profiles in the series:


    Thursday, Oct. 11

    The Kilgannons of Collingswood, N.J. (on WHYY-FM and NewsWorks)
    The Simons of Roxborough, Philadelphia (NewsWorks only)

    Friday, Oct. 12

    Alisha Jones and Crystal Portlock of Bear, Del. (on WHYY-FM and NewsWorks)
    Janet Gilease and Jonna Naylor of West Mount Airy, Philadelphia (NewsWorks only)

    Monday, Oct. 15

    The Zauns of Downingtown, Chester County (on WHYY-FM and NewsWorks) 

    Tuesday, Oct. 16

            Boris Kheyfets and Yana Chernov of West Philadelphia (on WHYY-FM and Newsworks)

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