Katie Dunne, Passionate believer in democracy and member of UHM's Digital Media Content Crew.
Rick Treviño on Medicare for all, Education, Gun Violence, Clean Energy for Texas and enabling a Co-op System.
Rick Treviño was the guest on #WeThePeople on February 14th 2018. He is running in Congressional District 23, Texas. This very progressive and passionate teacher left his job to run for office. He very much wants to represent his District and is tired of Industry being represented and not the People. Rick has been politically active for a number of years and has been educating people about a certain Bernie Sanders and what it means to be progressive. « As a teacher I bring context. I know history really well and I kind of know how we got here, and if people knew that history too, they would be railing against the system like we are right now. »
The Latino community in District 23 isn’t conservative he says. They have been very receptive to the progressive message. He is furious about the way the Democratic Party has let them down again and again. DACA students aren’t a bargaining chip! He wants to provide them with the tangible bona fide answers they want. They deserve Medicare for all, free public college or university for all, a living wage, major infrastructure investment…
He sees and is not impressed with Representatives who cynically co-sign bills because whichever issue (e.g. Medicare for all) is polling well. That said, Rick tells us, we need to thank Bernie for creating the atmosphere which made these issues popular to start with.
Mr Treviño is dismissive of « distraction » bills claiming to rival Medicare for all, just so that some Representatives don’t have to sign off on the real deal.
Rick is Justice Democrat and Brand New Congress endorsed, and wants to replace all those establishment figures that prevent anything from really changing. He is running on issues not identity politics.
He is visibly saddened when speaking about gun violence. Two students died in that manner he says, and this event had a very destabilizing effect on the community, on the students and academic staff at the school where he once worked. He is cynical (after Sandy Hook and Las Vegas) about anything changing soon. Change, he says, will only come when we « get NRA backed Representatives out of office…If you take money from the NRA, you basically should be disqualified from ever holding office ». We need to pass real gun reform, which most Americans support.
Private prisons, Rick also says, reflect an awful criminal justice system. It is evil to make money off of incarcerating very vulnerable people.
He is clearly very moved by the poverty and suffering of others in his district and in the world. « What is going on in Yemen, our drone policies, selling arms to Saudi Arabia…is not to make us safer, it’s to enrich these industries. »
On the issues of climate change and the economy, Rick indignantly tells us that fracking and private prisons are the only industries in his district that are growing. We need to transition away from fracking. As he drives around his gigantic district, he thinks about the potential it has for producing clean energy for all of Texas, and enabling a Co-op system (he is a Richard D. Wolff fan), where the main goal is not profit but to bring clean energy, utilities and infrastructure. He speaks too of the importance of union jobs.
Rick Treviño has a beautiful, passionate, heartfelt way of formulating his beliefs. He doesn’t mince words. « We need people that are from 23, and who are willing to kick ass for 23 only and the people of 23. »
Rick is now through to the Democratic Primary election runoff. This will be held on May 22nd 2018. The links are in the video description. Good luck Rick Treviño!
Robb Ryerse on a more open Wall-less Society, Medicare for All, Planned Parenthood, Green Energy, Taxes, Guns and more.
Robb Ryerse (pronounced: Ryer-see) is running in the 3rd Congressional District in Arkansas as an Independent Republican. He was interviewed by #WeThePeople on October 18th, 2017. He was the first Republican interviewed on the show and I (and no doubt not just I) was very impressed – and surprised. Read on…
Robb’s campaign ad starts with an extract from a Fox news interview. This is what he has to say “The system has been working for the people in power rather than everyday Americans. The experience that I’ll bring to this job is someone who listens and cares and understands, and will help work for solutions that will actually make a difference in people’s lives.” He continues and explains why we need to put people ahead of party, and tells us that we can do so by supporting an Independent Republican for Congress.
“People are more important than party establishments and corporate lobbyists.”
Robb is a lifelong Republican, but over the last several years he’s been pretty disgusted with the direction his Party has taken. He wants to do something about that. He explains to us that he has gotten to know many people over the years, and discovered that so many of the narratives that he had been told, such as those he heard about the LGBT(Q+) community, Muslims, Minorities and People of color, were not true. Wow says John, that’s powerful to hear. Robb grew up as a really strict fundamentalist Christian, eventually abandoned all of that and his faith takes a much different shape these days.
“His deep commitment to giving people the time and room to grow, produced a longing to start a community (Vintage Fellowship) founded on grace. (Robb graduated from Biblical Theological Seminary and Baptist Bible College in Pennsylvania.)
He started a church – one that allowed questions, struggles and doubts - in N.W. Arkansas 12 or so years ago, with his wife. Everyone - and he emphasizes everyone, is welcome there. Lots of people from different backgrounds and perspectives come together, learn from and love each other… it’s a wonderful place says Robb. Congratulations, says John, for creating such a place. If I were to go to a church, that’s the kind I’d be looking for – one that is really more about helping people rather than following one particular belief.
The election of President Donald Trump was an eye-opener, and caused Robb to become involved in ways he hadn’t imagined in the past. He and John agree that the direction the country has taken is a frightening one. One day Robb’s wife listened to a podcast, where the founder of Brand New Congress was laying out his “post-partisan” approach to the future of American politics. She knew that this was something for him. I now have a lot of hope regarding the future of the country, he says. BNC (which has since endorsed him), is a practical, tangible way that people can make a difference and rescue the country from the establishments and from corporate interests, Robb says.
Do you believe the Republican Party represents Christian values today, John asks.
We’ve got a problem with big religion in our country, Robb replies. He speaks of an Evangelical establishment that has sold its soul for the opportunity to be influential in Washington. When he listens to Christian leaders on TV, he doesn’t feel as though they speak for him, or many of the people he knows.
Before we can solve the biggest problems we face as a country, we need to drain the swamp (of corporate lobbyists and the politicians in their pockets). To do so we have to be willing to stand up and donate, vote and volunteer, he says. Those of us who care, need to take control of things for ourselves. Robb is asking pragmatic Democrats, Independents and principled Republicans in his District to support his campaign, because the best opportunity to beat Steve Womack is in the Republican primary. John mentions that Robb is more progressive than the Democrat in the race. Robb tells us that BNC recognises that the best way to unseat these incumbents in very blue or red districts is from within their own parties. A Republican candidate in Montana can body-slam a reporter and still get elected, or Democrats can spend a record amount of money in Georgia and still lose. There are some Districts that are just going to elect a Republican no matter what, and what I ask folks is “Who do you want that Republican to be - Steve Womack or me?” Great question says John.
The YouTube audience want to know if Robb supports the government supporting Planned Parenthood. He says that he gets frustrated with Republicans talking about Planned Parenthood, because it feels to him like a bogeyman that is about scoring cheap political points rather than actually talking about real issues. When it comes to abortion, personally he tells us that he is pro-life, however he doesn’t think the best way to reduce abortions in America is through criminalization, because what we’ve seen - especially over the last 8 years, he says, is that abortion rates were actually below where they were pre-Roe v. Wade. The reason for that is because women have had greater access to healthcare and education. So gutting Planned Parenthood is not the way to reduce the number of abortions in America. My answer often doesn’t satisfy pro-life or pro-choice people, but the reality is we haven’t had much movement on that issue in decades, and where we need to have movement is by making sure women have access to healthcare and education. John agrees and says that there is a law in place. We don’t need to be arguing about that. We need both sides to be figuring out how to make it better for the people involved.
Obamacare would be another example John says. Robb clearly feels that there are some issues with the ACA, and he personally supports Medicare for all. The ACA doesn’t go far enough and there are elements of it that are failing that don’t need to. For me the acceptable number of Americans without healthcare coverage is zero, Robb says. Medicare for all is the best way we can do that now in our current system. John is glad to hear him say that, it makes sense economically as we have seen, he says and Robb nods. But do you believe as a Conservative that we have the money to pay for this, John continues. I think says Robb that we ought to be focusing on investing the vast amount of resources that the government has, in ways that are going to benefit the most Americans possible. That’s the litmus test for me. We need to spend wisely and competently and we need to reduce government waste. Making sure all Americans have health coverage benefits the economy and it’s really good for small business. He tells us of a friend who owns a small business and who is constantly bumping up against the 50 employee threshold, and he won’t hire his 50th employee because he doesn’t want to have to provide health coverage that is going to (make) a major shift in the bottom line for his company. With healthcare for all / Medicare for all, small businesses could create jobs and grow, and grow the economy, without that impediment. Imagine says Robb…Tomorrow in N.W. Arkansas, there is a woman who is going to be sitting at her desk, she hates her job, and she has got an idea for the next great American company, but she’s too scared to quit her job and lose her health coverage, because she has a daughter at home with a pre-existing condition! The current system does not support entrepreneurs, start-ups, people willing to take a risk to grow our economy and to provide the kinds of goods and services that we’re longing for as a country, and it should not be that way! There are good economic arguments that Republicans can rally around to support Medicare for all. Great angle, says John.
Steve Womack, the Republican Incumbent doesn’t agree, they figure. He gets most of his money from PACS and is sponsored by Walmart. Robb says what is interesting about that, is that Walmart is in a major clash right now with Amazon.com. They are two big companies that are fighting over who is going to be supreme in the world of retail. One of the things that Walmart really wants is a federally enforced internet sales tax, because that is going to make life more difficult for Amazon. Congressman Womack is the number one proponent of this idea in Washington! Is this something any American wants? No! Apart that is, from Steve Womack’s biggest corporate donor. And, says John, more and more businesses that haven’t moved online, and should have done so earlier. They are suffering the costs now.
Did you know, Robb asks, that it was a Republican (Eisenhower) who coined the phrase - Military Industrial Complex? And with that John asks him, where he thinks the corporate tax rate should be. The predominant economic theory that Republicans have held onto for decades hasn’t worked... Look at Kansas! Under Eisenhower wasn’t it 90%, now we’re in the 20% range, and the (actual) tax rate is nothing, for many of them. I don’t know about specific numbers says Robb, but the current (10/18/2017) Republican debate about tax reform is missing the biggest issue that exists in our tax code…the giant loopholes that allow the biggest corporations to get away with paying virtually nothing, as you just mentioned...moving money offshore, accelerated depreciation of equipment… along with buying and paying for political leaders and elected officials who will have specific tax cuts for particular industries. They have shifted the burden of our corporate tax code to small businesses. It shouldn’t be that way at all. “If corporations are people then they ought to pay taxes like everybody else.” President Reagan used to talk about the importance of job creation because that grew the base of tax payers (that) existed in the country, and we’re letting a base of tax payers off the hook.
Immigration is the next topic for discussion, and Laura asks Robb what his views are and whether he wants a wall. The wall is a terrible idea, he responds, a waste of resources and time and it doesn’t (jive) with American values. He thinks we need to get back to Reagan’s “Our country is a shining city on a hill” rhetoric. We need a swift path to citizenship for people who are here and are active members of our communities - and they need to be treated with the respect and the dignity that they deserve, he adds. We also really need to shift the language and the rhetoric about people. The term illegal is dehumanizing and further divides people. It is destructive to the tone of our politics and who we are as a people and it’s not true to American values. The answers given by Presidents Bush and Reagan in the 1980s on immigration do not (jive) at all with what is said by Republicans now. There is no such thing as an illegal human being says John. Exactly! Robb replies with a smile.
In the past year (before 10/18/2017), our State Legislature in Arkansas passed a concealed-carry law that allows people to carry, on college campuses, in churches and in bars. When I think about stupid ideas…adding guns to a bar fight is a really dumb idea, Robb says. I support the Second Amendment, but I also think we need common sense gun reforms that are going to help keep our country safer. We need to crack down on semi-automatic guns that are turned into automatic weapons, address mental illness - ensuring that those who have guns have the mental capacities to own them, have background checks… Should we have the same provisions for owning a gun as for owning a car, asks John. I mean registration, test, license and insurance? Robb feels that that makes a lot of sense. I think we no doubt need to think about how it gets rolled out, he adds, probably be best on a State by State basis as with motor vehicles, and if different States were to experiment with different ways to do this, then it would be interesting to see what the impact would be. John smiles “Leave it to the States…” Well, I am a Republican laughs Robb. True says John.
John wants to talk about Reagan, as Robb has made many references to him, so he says that he does agree that Reagan knew the difference between a Nazi and “not a Nazi”. I don’t see the Republican Party taking such a clear stance against President Trump and what’s going on with White Supremacy. Robb agrees that the President is not critical of the latter in the way he should be. It’s not acceptable. We need to have policies that help to begin to break down the systemic racism built into our system, in the prisons for example, and in criminal justice in our country. Everyone should have equal opportunity, Robb states.
And on to Defense…Neither party John says, has said no to military spending. They are both raking it in off the subsidies from the global arms trade. How much says John, should we spend on our military? Should we match China and call it good perhaps? Robb refers to a chart that is on screen, pointing out that the U.S. currently spends as much as the next 7 (or 8) countries combined on Defense... This is an opportunity to spend in a more wise and competent way. I’m sure there is much waste that could be cut out if we audited the Defense Department. Robb finds it of real concern that members of both parties recently passed a 70 billion dollar increase to the military budget, while children are literally losing their health coverage!! I think we could cut back on our military spending, still lead the world, still have more than adequate Defense and have extra resources to invest in ways that are going to benefit the most Americans possible. Well said, says John, and mentions waste again. Laura intervenes to comment that much of the military is stationed in places where we are harvesting and mining and taking resources…and they are protecting that activity, she says. She doesn’t think it’s Defense at all in a lot of cases.
Talk of fossil fuel extraction etc. leads to a question about the direction that Robb feels we should go regarding energy and climate change. Robb explains that in his faith tradition the story begins with God creating people and putting them on a planet, in a garden, so that they can take care of, steward and enjoy that world, not to rape and pillage it and to consume and destroy it. For me he says, taking care of the planet is a no-brainer. It’s one of our responsibilities as human beings. I would like to see the focus put on investing in a green energy economy, which would be good for the planet and the job market.
Comments in YT chat lead Robb to emphasize that Parties change over time, and that just because the current Republican orthodoxy is one thing, it doesn’t mean it has to stay that way for all time. He adds that the Republican Party platform of 1956 called for equal pay for women, worker protections, increased healthcare… and he tells us that a Republican founded the EPA, that the last major immigration reform (bill) was signed into law by a Republican and so on. People sometimes say to me you’re a rhino, Robb says, but I disagree. I say no. The people who have veered away from what the Republican Party has always been – they’re the ones who are Republicans in name only.
Robb says he sees three big problems with our system. Number one is corporate money, and We The People can do something about that by supporting non-corporate candidates, and thereby change the system. Number two is blind partisanship. We The People can support the right candidate regardless of party. Number three is the tone of our politics being so toxic, but We The People can make a difference, by speaking to and about each other in a more respectful way. We have the power to do this. Yes says John, we can become the democracy we want to see.
Right now, John comments, We The People also need a lot of money to fight these guys. You need boots on the ground but you know you’ll need money too. Congressman Steve Womack and Democratic Candidate Josh Mahony have plenty of cash he says. Progressives have to use different strategies. What will it take for you to win on the ground in your District?
First of all, Robb replies, it will take folks around the country supporting my campaign. Our average donation is about $25. We’ve got to be creative about ways to get out and talk with people. I can’t out-raise Steve Womack, but I can out-muscle and out-organize him and I can have people that are passionate. We are connecting with people who want to see change, from pragmatic Democrats and Independents, to social justice Republicans who care about the environment, immigration, refugees and healthcare – who don’t see a Republican talking about those issues, and we realize that we’ve a really strong anti-establishment wave that is continuing to crash across the country. We saw that with Senator Sanders’ rise in the polls and his almost winning the Democratic nomination, and with the election of President Trump. I think we’ll see a lot of anti-establishment candidates who will do surprisingly well and I hope that I and the other BNC candidates are among them.
YT chat asks about his opinion on BLM and police corruption and brutality. I support BLM, Robb replies. He mentions the fact that his campaign hosts a lot of house parties where they talk to voters and answer their questions. One lady pointed out that he (Robb) doesn’t have to worry about his son coming home at night the way she does, about her sons … It’s heart-breaking, he says. I think we need to demilitarize the police, have independent review of police brutality cases … We have seen repeatedly the lack of justice and how frustrating that is. He tells us also that he has learned so much from Cori Bush, the BNC candidate in St. Louis, Missouri. She is on the front lines in Ferguson, and leading protests in Missouri. We need to take these things seriously.
To sum up, Robb tells us that he is not taking Corporate Interests or Super PAC money. His is a People-powered campaign run on the good will of people all across the country. You can’t donate to me through ActBlue Express though, because I’m a Republican, he reminds everyone. John adds that the audience agree that that is dumb. I’m a Go Big or Go Home type of person, Robb continues. I’m running against an Establishment Candidate who has never gotten less than 72% of the vote. Democrats haven’t even run against him in the last two elections, and he has never had a Primary challenge. Steep odds! But we have to do something!! This is our chance to send a message to the Party Establishments that People are more important than Party. I believe strongly that Members of Congress ought to represent the People of their Districts.
Thank you firstly to Robb's wife for putting him in touch with Brand New Congress, and secondly to Robb for listening, and re-evaluating what he was hearing around him. Thirdly, thank you for deciding to trust your gut and run with your own beliefs Robb. You give me hope going forward.
To all in Arkansas, the links are in the video description. Don’t forget that Robb Ryerse’s Primary is on May 22nd, 2018. Do consider voting for him. Good luck Robb!
Katie Dunne, Passionate believer in democracy and member of UHM's Digital Media Content Crew.
Eric Burnette on "Re-unionizing the American workforce", Defense spending and Jobs.
Eric Burnette is one of the Democratic candidates running in the 2nd Congressional District of Oregon. He is pro-labor and has a Maritime Academy background. He was interviewed by #WeThePeople on April 30th, 2018.
To begin with we see a great ad that Eric put out (12/2017) about Incumbent Greg Walden’s vote on President Trump’s tax giveaway to corporations and the 1%. Nice introduction!
So, why did you decide to join this race when there were other Progressives already on-board, asks John. And the following is what Eric has to say. Greg Walden was busy writing the “fat and failed” Obamacare repeal language, when word got out that he was going to knock 25 000 to 45 000 of his own constituents off of healthcare, without any viable alternatives. Greg (who lives near Eric) couldn’t be bothered to come home and explain himself. That was one reason. Eric also thinks it isn’t a bad thing that so many people are running (more about that later) but he wanted to hear the words “re-unionize the American workforce” and didn’t, from the other candidates. This was another reason. Thirdly, everybody needs to get healthcare, universal healthcare (probably something like Medicare) - NOW, and although some candidates are talking about single-payer, not with the clarity Eric would like. John comments that what we really need to do is to eliminate the insurance industry from having a say. You really are saying single-payer because my government is going to be the source. Eric agrees wholeheartedly, and adds that the medical insurance industry is a failed market place. They should be told that under the ACA they were entrusted to bring more and more people into less and less expensive healthcare. They failed. It’s done. They’re out. Nice, says John, but we bail out our industries, not our people…
In short, Eric says: Are we seeing problems in Emergency Rooms that could and should have been dealt with in a doctor’s office? Are we seeing personal bankruptcies driven by medical costs? Are we seeing life expectancies going down? When the answer to all three of these statements is no, then we will have succeeded. John and Eric agree that there is much to be learned from other countries.
They move on to defense spending. John tells us that Eric has a very comprehensive issues page on his website. I quote: “We must enact the necessary regulations to make sure that the money we do allocate to defense spending is used wisely and invested in programs that help the Department of Defense realize the overall goal of keeping America safe.” It’s hard to measure the numbers, Eric says, but we’re pushing 4% of GDP. NATO standards are 2%, so why not apply NATO standards to ourselves? There is lots we could do with that money. He points out that there was an argument for helping to defend Europe and Asia after WW2, when they couldn’t defend themselves there. However 70 years have come and gone, and look what they’ve done for themselves with the buffer that American taxpayers have provided for them. They’ve figured out how to get healthcare to everybody. They’ve figured out how to have a thriving middle class. They have modern infrastructure. John shows us some slides and tells us that U.S. Defense spending now (adjusted for inflation) is almost what it was in 1944, at the height of WW2, on a regular basis! We are at war, John says. We’re bombing 7 or more places now – that costs a lot of money!
On the subject of jobs, Eric reminds us that the manufacturing jobs related to the defense industry were not exported. To re-industrialize the United States, we need he says, to have a real incentive program that takes the defense industry out of war material and into civilian markets. He feels that this is probably one of the best places to start. By that says John, you mean focus on renewables, infrastructure…Yes Eric replies. What we need are intelligent systems to monitor our grid, the ability to have a sustainable grid, a safe general electric – more localized…Oregon is fully expecting a really horrific earthquake – will it be next year, or next century? We don’t know, but it’s coming. Eric spent 10 years as a Senior Waterways Planner for the Columbia River, and he says that a lot of people could be employed in the area of infrastructure, and even more once people started to take advantage of it. Are you in favor of Bernie’s jobs program, John asks? Absolutely says Eric. During the above conversation and in reference to the safety of U.S. ports, Eric tells us that he believes that the Coast Guard is the only military Academy that has a competitive exam as an entry requirement and that they’ve been quietly working on the security of the ports for the last 15 years. Good to know says John.
Oz in YouTube chat wants to hold you to task for something, Laura says to Eric. There is a heading (on Eric’s webpage) that says “Fighting for equal access to healthcare.” Fair point, says Eric. I apologize. I missed that. It’s not access to healthcare, it is healthcare!
John Warren asks: How would you change Citizens United? And, how would you convince the party leadership to support your proposal seeing as both parties are invested in the current campaign finance model, it would seem? Given replies Eric, that our current reality has the other team owning the House, the Senate, the White house and with a really good long-term lease on the Supreme Court, we either have to amend the Constitution and back the Supreme Court down that way, or put legislative language in, that is so rock solid and unassailable that the Supreme Court has no choice but then to effectively reverse Citizens United. It is appalling! I am a citizen and not a customer, and corporations are not people! To make that change, John says, we need to replace enough people in Congress. Eric stresses that we really need to take back both House and Senate in 2018. A lot of people are looking at red districts that have turned purple (his included) and not acknowledging the purple shift he adds.
(Metalhead) asks what Eric could do about corruption in the Democratic Party. A whole batch of things, he replies. What I’ve been doing is going out and really discussing progressive issues. He focuses on healthcare, working family income and rural infrastructure.
I quote from Eric’s website in reference to supporting our Native American sisters and brothers: “We can start by initiating a good faith effort to quickly and fairly resolve outstanding treaty rights and disputes especially for those involving high-level issues of global sovereignty ... we must insist that Native Americans play a lead role in the administration and management of non-reservation federal lands.”
What about, Eric suggests, giving Native Americans the first right to act as sustainable energy developers on federal lands? Why not says John. Great suggestion! The amount of poverty and suffering that goes on in the Native American community is just absolutely unacceptable Eric says. I think that “Standing Rock – What happened there was one of a number of re-awakenings that are inherently, incredibly healthy.” Look at the Labor Movement, BLM, Me Too, Our Revolution, Indivisible (John adds Justice Democrats, Brand New Congress and Democratic Socialists of America). All are areas, continues Eric, where we are seeing enormous push-back which we wouldn’t have seen even 2 years ago.
I’m 63 he says, and I think people are awake in a way they haven’t been since Vietnam. What stopped the changes in the 1960s? Was it too much tragedy in 1968 asks John? I’ve a thought about that Eric replies. I think one of the biggest mistakes the Left has ever made was “Think globally, Act locally”. I think it was a profound blunder in the light of this technology we are using. While they were taking care of their own neighborhoods, and assuming everything else would turn out fine - read Jane Mayer’s Dark Money - the Right were building the CATO Institute, the Heritage Foundation, the American Enterprise Institute etc. The Left got lazy … a few hours of activism and then go home to bed. Repeat. The Middle class came from the Unions not from the Democrats and the Republicans. They are the ones who historically have been able to counter this, so re-unionize the American workforce! I’m pro-Union too says John, but aren’t you worried about some Unions having a corrupting influence on politics? Yes, says Eric, there are some out there that are better than others, but what I do think is that Unions are reinventing themselves right under our noses and nobody is paying attention. Campaigns are starting to unionize too, John says.
What if something bad happens - Eric asks John - and you call for help at 3 a.m. Who shows up? Be it Law Enforcement, Fire, Gas or Electrical crew, EMT … they’re all union members. When you pick up your kids from school at 3 p.m., who has been teaching them all day? … Union members. Ditto when you are ill, who takes care of you? … We entrust the most critical functions of our society to Unions even now Eric emphasizes. And then says John, we hand control over the entire mechanism to a bunch of rich ***. That’s not smart! Eric laughs. He quotes Mark Twain: “The reports of my death are slightly exaggerated and somewhat premature.” We’ve written off Unions but look what’s happening with the teachers, with JetBlue, with Burgerville up here. The fast-food chain is starting to unionize. Eric is endorsed by the way, by the AFL-CIO, Our Revolution and the Working Families Party. Fellow Democrat Jamie McLeod-Skinner (who speaks of access to affordable healthcare, but whose stance is far closer to his than Jennifer Neahring’s) is also endorsed by the latter. Eric says he has policy differences with her, but that she is smart and she works her tail off. I interviewed for the Teamsters endorsement, he adds, and asked the “3 a.m. question” of them too, he smiles.
YouTube chat wants to know what people can do, aside from electing people like Eric. Fight for Net Neutrality, he says. Fight Privatization wherever you can. Critical functions of civil society like prisons should not be privatized! There is No moral argument for profiting from imprisoning people! Make sure you demand that the people you put into office are willing to have those fights too … this by the way was another point that I didn’t hear from other folks running. Good answer says Laura.
Eric explains that there are two gerrymandering cases in front of the Supreme Court right now and says that God knows what they will be told regarding redistricting. Congressional District 2 will be split after the 2020 census. Seats and lines are going to be adjusted. There will most likely be an extra seat. There are 7 Democrats in this race, he says. Hopefully we should all be in elected office somewhere in Oregon by 2020. It’s a huge District. That gives us an advantage (as one of us will have already run a Congressional campaign in a District that doesn’t exist yet). Sounds good says John. You keep saying that you like all these Democrats regardless of where they sit on the progressive scale. That’s commendable and I think that if we had a healthy democracy that would be the attitude of everybody involved. There is still a large divide in the Democratic Party though, maybe not between candidates as much as between State leadership and Federal leadership as opposed to District leadership … The Democratic Party must figure this out. – Eric prefers to talk about Centrists and Progressives and looking forward. Rural America has the Republican Party and they seem to like it. We do not win he says, by being Republicans Light.
By Eric’s estimation Congressional District 2 was location to one of the best Democratic Congressional Campaigns nationally this year, but media coverage even within Oregon, but certainly nationally was absent. He insists though that they’re doing this the right way.
He really enjoyed this interview, and Eric was very interesting to listen to. His song choice couldn’t be played as an outro, but Markus given the ad at the start, replaced it well. The interview ends with the sound of Eric’s laughter.
All links are in the video description. Eric Burnette’s Primary is on the May 15th, 2018. Good luck Eric!
Jim Crary on Gun Safety, Campaign Finance Reform, Income Inequality, Climate Change and more.
On February 26th 2018, Jim Crary, Candidate for Oregon’s Congressional District 2 (Two-thirds of the State and 7th largest district in the U.S.) was interviewed by #WeThePeople. Jim spent 2 years in the army and is a Vietnam-Era Veteran. He worked as a prosecutor and did contracts for a major corporation for more than 25 years. He lives in the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument. Jim’s introduction video, invites peoples’ questions. He’d like to hear from everyone. There are a number of other videos on his own site discussing his stance on issues.
Jim also ran in 2016, and is a Bernie Sanders supporter. What drew him to politics? Jim tells us he didn’t want to sit around complaining when irritated by what was going on, he wanted to try to change it. Things haven’t improved since 2016 either! Health insurance, taxes, what Republicans are or are trying to do with the ACA… drive him crazy. He is retired. He has the time, his health and the inclination to do something about all of this. To John’s delight Jim has invested in technology, and here he is.
On gun control (or gun safety as Jim says): He has hunted since the age of 12 and has an army background. He has owned and used firearms almost his whole life, and is comfortable with them. He used the M16, which is the military version of the civilian AR-15, while in the army, and explains that the difference between the two is that the M16 can be put on full auto and is therefore like a machine gun. « An AR-15 is an assault weapon and it’s designed for one thing. It’s designed to kill a lot of people very quickly, very efficiently. » « We should have an assault weapon ban. There is no reason why anyone other than somebody in the military should own an assault weapon » he says, and continues « They have magazines (or clips) that hold 30 rounds (or bullets). There is no need for that. I had …one in the chamber and 3 in the magazine – that’s all you need. » Jim says that Universal Background Checks are absolutely required - including online, and that the gun show loophole needs to be closed. Some people shouldn’t be able to buy guns, because convicted of domestic violence, for example. Armour-piercing bullets are cop killers – nothing else. We should license and train people, and put them through a background check. «We should have the right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness over someone’s right to bear arms. » Self-protection doesn’t include an assault weapon Jim says and « Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness » is one of the Unalienable Rights that we have, according to the Declaration of Independence.
Campaign finance reform is vital for Jim: « I love how these young people down in Florida (following the School Shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland) are saying, you know what? You take money from the NRA - you are complicit with these murders. And I believe that (too). » Campaign finance reform « is the only thing that will absolutely make a systemic change to the way we do things. » Unlike Greg Walden (the incumbent in Oregon’s Congressional District 2) who takes a massive amount of money from industry, Jim only takes money from individuals, he says. When he gets elected he will be there to represent the People in his district, not Greg Walden’s contributors. It is possible to run without taking all this industry money, Bernie did it! Jim Crary is certain that he will be able to raise big money after he gets through the primary…people are so sick and tired of their Representatives going to Washington D.C. to represent their contributors, and not them. « The Koch brothers are going to put 400 million dollars into this midterm election. You think the Koch brothers are stupid? You think the Koch brothers are altruistic? Heck no… That’s a 400 million dollar investment. They just got a huge return on that investment back in December when the Republicans gave a trillion and a half dollars in tax cuts to the wealthiest and to the corporations, and then they gave a few little crumbs to the middle income, and almost nothing to the lower income…and they keep billing it as this middle income tax cut. Baloney…call it what it is, it’s a corporate give-away and a give-away to the wealthy - and those are the donors. »
John wonders, but for Jim, any one of the Democrats running would be much better than Walden. People are really engaged (in politics) this time around. If I had 25 or 30 people at a campaign event in 2016 – it was a good day. This time we’ve had candidate forums with over 250 people, 10 months before the election, Jim tells us! He speaks of a blue wave and change coming to D.C.
Jim is putting what he has learned to good use now. What kept him going in 2016, were the local county democratic chairs, setting up meetings for him, etc., as he « pin-balled » around the district. This time he knows them all. He also knew he couldn’t do it by himself in 2018, and now has a committee of three helping him. They « straight talk » him when they need to, and he listens because he doesn’t know it all, he says. Jim mentions a book called « The Four Agreements »: You speak precisely. You don’t make assumptions. You don’t take things personally. You always try to do your best. Wise I’d say. He also makes four promises to those whose vote he seeks: He’ll give them straight answers. They won’t always agree with him. He will listen to them and lastly he will be open to changing his position if the facts dictate that he do so. « I have learned so much by running » he says. « There are a lot of people out there with really good ideas and they are just not being listened to… » When he answers someone’s question, he asks the person whether he has answered that question in a satisfactory way, and if not, he tries again. If they still don’t like his answer, he says to them…ask the other candidates the same question, see how they answer – is it a clear answer or not? If it isn’t then don’t penalize me, penalize them!
On the subject of the media, Jim thinks voters should insist that the announcers not let the candidates get out of answering questions. John comments that CNN is looking for ratings, not answers. Jim chooses not to react to this. John continues « We are an independent network that was created for the purpose of bringing a more correct narrative, more of a balanced narrative to the news and information… » Jim Crary answers the question asked by saying that he is definitely interested in using a platform like Uphill Media to communicate with people all over the State of Oregon, when elected. That being the case, says John, where do you stand on net neutrality? I want an open and free internet Jim replies.
On the subject of income inequality Jim has lots of ideas:
Yes we are spending way too much on the military. In answer to Jilly in YouTube chat, and off the top of my head I’d cut the military budget by at least 20% says Jim. Laura then posts the link to Jim’s website and the defense spending reform page, with his views on foreign policy.
We should then reallocate that money (here he mentions the 2015 audit of the Pentagon where 125 billion dollars of waste was identified). I am for a strong national defense but we are spending way way too much money, and I would love to see that money go into infrastructure. Let’s stop spending trillions of dollars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya … and spend it on our own infrastructure, which civil engineers gave a D plus grade! We’ve got over 4 trillion dollars of infrastructure repair and refurbishment that we need to do. Think well-paid jobs too. I would increase spending in one area though, for the coastguards who help defend our coasts.
Jim is eager and willing to share all this information and his views. It matters to him! Social Security is 100% of income for some and they barely make it as it is. In 2034, Social Security will start paying out 76 cents on the dollar if nothing is done about it, he says. Jim would propose that there be no cap on the maximum amount of taxable earnings, so that all taxable earnings are subject to Social Security tax and everyone would pay the same percentage of their earnings into Social Security. The cap at present is at 128, 400 dollars. This would go about 85% of the way towards making Social Security viable for the next 75 years. Also, Social Security applies only to earned income (which includes restaurant tips). There is also something called unearned income: corporate interest, dividends, and capital gains. Include that too, I think Jim said. Make the employer continue to pay the 6.2% Social Security tax on the first $30 000 of wages earned, but not the employee. This is the equivalent of putting $1860 in the employee’s pocket. « Trickle-up economics! » The employee will spend it and some of that money will trickle up to the corporations and the rich Jim says. « I love it », says John!
Would he invest in renewable energy jobs? Yes, absolutely, Jim says, moving on to the issue of climate change, which he says is both real and a man-made problem. His biggest concern is that we aren’t going to keep the temperature rise under 2 degrees Celsius. I signed a pledge, he says, and I don’t sign many, that when I get elected, I’m going to support H.R.3671…which says we are going to get off of fossil fuels by 2035. We need a Moon Shots type program (i.e. to put a lot of resources and leadership into a project in order to achieve something major in a very short amount of time). The tax credit for an electric vehicle is $7 500, and it stops after the first 200 000 vehicles. (The Chinese give $15 000 for a tax credit!) So, increase the tax credit for electric vehicles, keep the tax credit for wind and solar (and geothermal), and put research and development into wave energy. America used to achieve all these big goals! My campaign slogan is Voice to the People. Right now in D.C. the only voices being heard are the campaign contributors, the corporations, the Koch brothers (all of whom as donors also get to pay less in taxes). « Screw them. Let’s have a voice for the people. » He speaks of cap and trade (which was used in the New England area to get rid of acid rain - and it worked) or a carbon tax. (In British Columbia, they make the latter revenue neutral, i.e. they take the money from the carbon tax and lower other taxes). Jim prefers the latter solution, which would then be invested in renewables, tax credits for renewables and electric vehicles.
Regarding forest management, Jim cuts, thins and heats with wood from his property. This helped two years ago when a fire broke out. Even still, it involved the fire department, a helicopter…They were very lucky that day.
Imagine, muses Jim, a solar roof over some highways? The amount of electricity we could generate!! You wouldn’t have to take land out of production. The environmental impact statement would be almost minimal.
Jim loves Elon Musk and is against pipelines. He says the way you beat oil and gas (and coal) is by making it uneconomical. At this point John intervenes to say, « You have an inside track Jim (because Jim used to be a lawyer for B.P - writing, drafting and negotiating contracts), but we’ve got a war machine that thrives on fossil fuels. Jim answers that the « how to » is laid out in H.R.3671. Remove the subsidies for oil and gas. Redirect them (to renewables). It is interesting, he adds, that it’s called a subsidy when it goes to corporations, and welfare if it goes to a poor person. Greg Walden, like the President is doubling down on oil and gas. Jim tells us that he moved to Oregon in 2006, and they put in solar energy at home. He had always been an advocate of renewable energy. B.P. when he was working there had a solar division. B.P. - which means Beyond Petroleum, Jim says, (It was British Petroleum until the year 2000) knows that oil and gas is not the future. BP and Exxon are in favor of a carbon tax because what that does is give them certainty. Those guys will work with what we give them, he says.
John now adds with passion that with regard to the fossil fuel industry, it’s not enough to take away their subsidies, not enough to regulate them, not enough to get them to move towards renewables. A lot of progressives (including John) feel that it has destroyed this planet and that those responsible need to be brought to justice. He continues, « I personally believe that every CEO of Exxon should be in prison, and that Exxon should be liquidated for crimes against humanity. How do we address the atrocities that not only have these corporations committed against humanity and every species on this planet, but our government … has committed (these) atrocities (too) in the name of war and greed? » Jim answers after a slight hesitation. « You know what John? I don’t have an answer to that one. …That’s the first time someone has asked me that question, and I don’t have an answer. » There follows a discussion about the 35 billion dollar clean-up of the Gulf by B.P. after the oil spill a few years ago. Does Jim believe that the damage has been paid for, and that there ends the matter? John eases off the subject and asks whether Jim thinks that consumers can have an effect through public pressure by way of social media campaigns against corporations. Yes! Jim again speaks of the young people in Parkland Florida to whom he wrote with words of encouragement and advice. He adds - armed teachers? What about …reducing class sizes, putting in counselors…catch the problems early on so that people don’t turn into these mass shooters.
On State-owned banks, Jim tells us that North Dakota has one and that he’s from there. They absolutely love it and it helps them. One thing they do is take student loans and refinance them. I’m for Bernie Sanders’ idea of a 1% financial transaction tax on all stocks and bond sales. This would bring in billions of dollars. Take half of it and go to the States. Offer to give them money on condition they reduce the cost of their in-state tuition. Also, I believe that if you graduate from college, or vocational or technical school, and we need mechanics, plumbers and electricians… the federal government should take your loans, and for ten years you should pay 0% interest. You should just pay back the principal.
Jim Crary was a very interesting candidate, very thankful for the opportunity to come on the show, intelligent and full of ideas to improve the world and life in general for everyone, most especially those in his district.
All links for Jim Crary are in the video description. His primary is on the 15th of May 2018. Good luck Jim!
John Fetterman tells us about Braddock PA & demonstrates his own passionate commitment to his community.
On February 12th 2018, John Fetterman, Mayor of Braddock Pennsylvania, joined John and Markus on #WeThePeople. He is running for the position of Lt. Governor of Pennsylvania. John is a passionate Progressive who has been working in and for Braddock for many years. He likes to think that he has "been where the Democratic Party should have always been...with the oppressed, the forgotten...the marginalized". He would very much like to see Democrats overcome their differences and fight together to win in 2020. "Mostly the progressive positions are just basic common sense and decency." Why is it a progressive (or radical) idea to pay someone a living wage? That is what's necessary to sustain a basic minimum standard of living that every human being enjoys, he tells us.
Braddock, like many communities, needs everything. John Fetterman and his community have worked hard. Crime is down, over a dozen businesses have relocated to town, they have one of the best pre-k programs in the State, and have opened an urgent care center to restore affordable healthcare to the citizens. Regarding climate change, he says "we should be doing something in a very urgent and proactive manner". John doesn't support fracking. "We should be investing in renewables. I have 3 young children and I really worry about the world that we're handing them, in terms of environmental issues." Public pressure and some Republican support might be necessary to pass legislation, but Republicans need to breathe too!
Mayor Fetterman is running on his record, unafraid to stand out and to stand up for what he believes in: Marijuana legalization, same-sex marriage, $15 an hour, immigration reform, fair taxation of the rich in order to help those less fortunate. There is an enormous gap between "the haves and the have-nothings" he says. Why Lt. Governor? PA is the 5th largest State and John feels that he could be a vocal champion for progressive issues. He also wants to help rewind some of the damage done in 2016, to set the stage for success in 2020. "We are all better off, when we are all better off." "People who take care of us deserve to be able to take care of themselves and live in dignity."
The Mayor of Braddock is not happy with the Democratic Party's position on DACA. It is not helping to unite the party. "Immigration is what makes our country great." He believes that Progressives have truth and morality on their side and eventually will prevail. We need to be more forceful, and to temper what we do with pragmatism.
John Fetterman believes in Community Policing, and that the Community and the Police need each other. There has not been a death through violence in his Community in 5 and a half years and he is justly proud of this. It is a trust-based relationship that takes years to build. Leadership has to come from the top. A police officer's most powerful weapon is discretion...It works in Braddock!
John Fetterman clearly cares deeply for the people, and works hard for them. His Primary is on the 15th of May 2018 and the links are in the video description.
Paula Swearengin - coal miner's daughter, talks about her fight for basic human rights and dignity.
Paula Jean Swearengin - real person, West Virginian, coal miner’s daughter, accounting clerk, social activist, Mom - is running in West Virginia against Joe Manchin, for the U.S. Senate. Paula Jean got to meet Senator Bernie Sanders in March 2017, after the “Chris Hayes show”. She approached Bernie and asked for 2 minutes of his time, feeling strongly that they didn’t have real representation in her State. The Media were following him around, but he stopped everything to listen. The very moving conversation was recorded. He touched her she says, because he cares. Paula Jean thinks it’s a disgrace that a Senator from Vermont cares more about West Virginia than their own leadership does. Shame on Joe Manchin and the rest of the leadership she says, that the people have had to fight back and run for office. The Democratic Party, Paula Jean continues, handed me one of the biggest polluting coal barons as my governor. Three miles from my house there is a mountaintop removal site and he’s put silica dust in my kids’ lungs every day. I’ve been a social justice warrior for years, a mom desperate for clean air, water and prosperity in this State. Democrats and Republicans it’s all the same, they have the same donors (Evan Jenkins (R) and Joe Manchin (D)). They are corporate not public servants.
Paula Jean is passionate about West Virginia and West Virginians, but she has had a tough life. As a kid she drank orange water with a blue and purple film on it, they bathed and cooked with this water too in her community. Until the age of 12 she thought her hair was red! She’s 43 now, and has buried a lot of her family to coal. Her dad died at 54 of cancer, her grandfather suffocated to death with black lung, her uncles have black lung, her step-dad too, along with heart disease and he also had open-heart surgery. She has seen what they call prosperity with coal and has also been hungry and gone without (The Boom and Bust cycle). There’s not a stream in the southern part of the district that’s not impacted by coal pollution. The neighbours’ kids have cancer. I never dreamed Paula Jean says that I’d see the most beautiful mountains in the world blown up for coal, when it’s just for mechanization and it’s taking away coal miners’ jobs. Manchin signed away the little protection they had regarding pollution and streams… people still drink water with acid mine drainage in it. Coal miners deserve clean water too! 44 out of 55 counties voted for Bernie because he offered solutions. Coal miners don’t want their children to go through the same suffering. I think our youth deserve clean and safe jobs, a diverse economic infrastructure and educational opportunities, she says. We deserve healthcare too. We’re one of the sickest, poorest States. I want to bring home some of the trillions of dollars that left the State and invest it in ourselves. “There is a clear difference between being a friend of the coal industry, and being a friend of a coal miner.” To Stock’s question (YT chat) about new coal jobs Paula Jean responds “There’s no coal jobs, the market is down and it doesn’t look like it’s going to rebound.” Gas we are told is our plan B – another destructive fossil fuel that is going to ruin our environment. This affects more than just West Virginia. We need to replace these “leaders”. We need real public servants. Paula Jean wants wind and solar power and thinks they can manufacture them in West Virginia. We need vision. She has worked with a lot of social justice and environmental groups over the years. We’ve been begging to deaf ears, she says. She has spent years as a mom, working 16 and 18 hours travelling while her kids ate chicken nuggets, and she begged for clean water. Food on the table or clean air and water…West Virginians were pit against each other for basic human rights. John tries to thank Paula Jean a few times for running and for fighting so hard – as a single mom too, but Paula Jean doesn’t want thanks “I am a mom and we’re desperate”.
Yes Jeff (YT) it’s worth trying to grow hemp on mountaintop removal sites. I don’t understand how Manchin can turn his back on the children of West Virginia in the way he has, she says a little later. My donors are the People. No corporate money. No special interests. Mylan pharmaceutical company is Manchin’s 2nd largest donor and his daughter is CEO. Manchin isn’t combatting the opioid epidemic either. Enough pills are shipped here to give 455 of them to every person in the State. His adult child is funding his campaign from pumping pills in West Virginia. There are so many deaths that there are backlogs in the morgues. Doctors are responsible for this too. Paula Jean unsurprisingly, is for Medicare for all.
Moving on, this amazing candidate says that we need to stop funding unnecessary wars. I thought, when I was a child that the government would protect me, and us, she says…then I saw that they send their children to wars for rich men. They’re now at war with us. Look at West Virginia…that’s cultural genocide! Definitely cut back on the military budget, balance it, but don’t fund unnecessary wars, instead put the money into infrastructure through federal programs.
There is one issue that unites us Paula Jean says. We all need to stand up and fight over water. Coal companies are not cleaning up properly (mountain tops). They are destroying everything for one out of 10 jobs! Paula Jean is also against fracking and natural gas. The Northern part of the State has had to deal with fracking issues, and the resultant water issues too. Even those, there, who may not agree about the pollution, I’m sure can agree that it’s another singular industry-based economy for West Virginia, no diversity, no promise.
Paula Jean is sponsored by the Justice Democrats and by Brand New Congress. She is inspired by Senator Bernie Sanders who she says is teaching us how to fight back, and has been to West Virginia twice recently. You’re nailing it and you’re so well spoken. We need public servants and mothers (like you) making decisions for our children says John. Dads are just as angry Paula Jean tells him.
As to her campaign in 2018 “I don’t need money, I need votes.” Paula tells us. People are raising their voices all over the State. We can use social media, power building …This isn’t my campaign, this campaign is for West Virginia. We’ve been begging national media, she says, to keep the attention on the genocide here and it didn’t happen, but the conversation with Bernie that someone recorded on their phone…went viral! It brought me a lot of support. We have to hit the streets and talk to people. She spoke recently to a lady who had voted for Donald Trump. Paula Jean told her that she was a Democrat and what she wanted to do…the lady cried! West Virginians have been divided because we have been desperate, yet we’re some of the most hospitable people in the world, and we all deserve jobs. Republicans suffer from black lung too.
Don’t you miss the days when news was news? Yes, says John, it’s one of the reasons I started this network. Paula, if elected, feels we need to figure out some kind of legislation so that the truth is told once again. There are so many lies in the media now. West Virginians have been lied to so much. My question to those people…how much does a child cost in West Virginia? Shame on you!
Please vote for the outstanding candidate that Paula Jean Swearengin is. “I’m an angry mom right now, and I will fight for every child not only in West Virginia, but America.” And she means it folks!
Jenny Marshall discusses healthcare, education, poverty wages, guns, what loving one's neighbor involves...
Jenny Marshall is running for office in North Carolina’s 5th Congressional District. She was interviewed by #WeThePeople on November 1st, 2017. She is a grassroots Progressive who wishes to protect the interests of the People and create economic equity. She believes in healthcare for all, fully funded public education, Social Security, equal pay, clean energy and paths to citizenship. Jenny was a Bernie Sanders supporter in the primaries, and a delegate to the DNC in 2016. Her primary date is now fast approaching, as it is May 8th 2018.
Blue America (Progressive PAC), Sister Giant (Reverend Barber connected with) and Local chapters of Our Revolution (ECU for Our Revolution, Our Revolution Carteret County) have endorsed Jenny Marshall.
First some quotes:
“Corporatism and greed continue to empower career politicians like Virginia Foxx to rob the hardworking citizens of this country, and I’ve had enough. If we want to truly fix the problems that surround us, we must start with repairing the broken and corrupt economy that enforces our country’s most vile systems of inequity. But for this campaign to really take off, it has to be about us - all of us. It has to be about people of color, women, LGBTQ+ folks, immigrants, workers, and parents all working together to turn the tide in the people’s favor. This campaign is about reforming our current system from the inside out to create a collective vision for America’s future that works for all of us. Because right now, under Republican leadership, our future is dim.”
“It’s high time we say no more. No more to turning a blind eye to those among us who are struggling. No more corporatism, no more tax cuts for the rich, and no more obscene spending on defence and fossil fuels while programs like Medicaid and Social Security sit by the wayside. In Washington, we will fight for working families and small business owners. We will fight for economic prosperity, for social and environmental justice, for the equality of all people.”
John begins the interview by asking what prompted Jenny to run, and she replies that after the November 2016 election “I couldn’t go back into my classroom and not do everything in my power to make my students’ lives better, and our community stronger.” So she launched her campaign the following month. It has involved a lot of work, and has also been a lot of fun getting out in the community and talking to people about things that matter to them.
Virginia Foxx (the Republican incumbent of 14 years) voted to gut the ACA, which would hurt the people of North Carolina more than any other State in the Nation. She also voted against raising the minimum wage in 2007, and so much more. She has not held a town hall in... forever, Jenny tells us.
Every district line in N.C. has been affected by gerrymandering. Fortunately they had a redistricting for Congressional lines in 2016, so they are now in the best position in the 5th district that they have ever been in to unseat Virginia Foxx. The last person who ran a campaign against Foxx, did very little campaigning, raised no money for the campaign and only lost by 16.8%. Jenny says they are taking a very different approach and are willing to knock at every door, and are trying to raise as much money as they can to fund the kind of campaign that really gets out and reaches people where they live. Awesome says John
Jenny believes that the U.S. needs to move towards a Universal Basic Healthcare/Medicare for all - style program that covers people for medical, dental and vision care. It’s the smart thing to do, she says. It is economically viable for us to provide healthcare for people. It uncouples that connection between employment and health insurance. It can lower your car insurance because you don’t have to cover medical expenses any more, same for your homeowner’s insurance. Those things are covered.
In the 5th district, Jenny says, 50% of the households are low income or poverty level - that is simply just unacceptable! Unemployment may be low, but people are working 2 or 3 jobs, yet not making enough money to have a life that is secure or that pays for college for their children. We definitely need to raise the minimum wage and Universal Basic Healthcare would mean people could apply for jobs they would like and maybe even make more money. I support the fight for 15 wholly. We need to increase the minimum wage which is supposed to be a living wage, but nobody can live on $7.25 an hour. We need to raise the minimum wage in a way that is both helpful to those working those jobs and also to small businesses who are often paying these wages because communities can’t support higher wages. John comments that “If we’re providing government funded healthcare, then the businesses are not going to be paying into that so….”
Melissa in YouTube chat asks whether Jenny is finding it challenging to reach the people in the mountains in her district. We are doing traditional grassroots efforts Jenny replies, not just relying on TV or FB posts and or Twitter reach. We are (although cutting back over the holiday season) going out into the communities, talking to people and doing meet-and-greets. We will be knocking on doors, so we’re not waiting for someone to pick up the phone or for a phone bank, and we’re not waiting for somebody to catch us on FB, we’ll be at their doors as much as humanly possible.
Jenny has 7 children and she is definitely pro-choice. She doesn’t think it is the government’s right to interfere with a woman’s decision. Such decisions aren’t made lightly by the vast majority of women and it’s after much due consideration that they choose to do what they do. Rather than having the government regulate it, I would rather see them increase wages because we know that that is a factor in why some women choose to have an abortion. She’d like to see an increase in sex education throughout the country, and easier access to birth control, as there is no doubt that this reduces the number of unplanned pregnancies. We just have the research to show that those 3 things in tandem reduce the need for abortion, she says. And if that’s the end game we need to be doing those three things. Absolutely says John. Well stated! Don’t look at the burning issue that is abortion, Jenny continues. Let’s look at how we prevent women from actually needing an abortion.
Jenny believes that you should legislate from a Constitutional perspective and leave your religious beliefs for your own personal prayer/meditation… I don’t think the U.S. is a theocracy, so if we are not willing to legislate based on all religions, then we should base our laws on no religion, and use the Constitution as our guide, she argues.
Jenny was a part of Winston-Salem Pride. She wants to better “the lives of all our citizens”. She would like to see the LGBTQ+ community have legal anti-discrimination status, along with people of race, and religion etc. She thinks it is the only thing that we can do to protect those people who sole right it is to find somebody, fall in love, get married, not be discriminated in a restaurant, not be fired because of who they are and who they are married to...it’s the 21st century. We need to get with it. I think says John, even the Pope is there with some of that stuff. Jenny says “If I can speak on a biblical stance for a minute... it’s love thy neighbor, not love that neighbor or this neighbor. They’re all your neighbors. Love thy neighbor as thyself. You pretty much can’t go wrong with that one, but they’re sure not showing a lot of love in their heart when it comes to people that are different from them in those ways.”
John and Jenny speak about (a ruling) which says that as of 2017 judges in State courts must identify their party affiliation on ballots, making North Carolina the first State in nearly a century to adopt partisan court elections. Jenny tells him that they would like to get rid of the primary election for the judges too and just have a one-off race in the November election, and whoever makes it past the post … that’s the person who is the judge. So there will be who knows how many people on the ballot for one position. Oftentimes judges are the hardest to make decisions about, because we’re not sure where they stand on the issues, their conviction records, etc. she says. Now it’ll be Democrat or Republican, which is very unfortunate, as there are good people on both sides of the aisle, and very qualified judges who would pass these judgements and make those determinations based on the law, rather than on their party affiliation. Apparently a few judges changed their party affiliation because they were fed up with the Republican Party. One even stepped down before the GOP could name his replacement, because they circumvented our Governor, Jenny says. The GOP Legislature in N.C. calls special sessions at whim she adds.
What of President Trump’s tax plan? We are just getting less services, less of everything. We’ve seen Kansas. Kansas cut taxes, cut corporate taxes and they had to close schools. Early in the year they couldn’t fund their infrastructure bills and plans that they had already started. “We do not need a disaster nation-wide!” Jenny states. Virginia Foxx championed this tax plan and said it levelled the playing field. She said all of these things that didn’t sound like they were going to impact families and people living in the 5th District, but in fact they just benefit her and big corporations that can afford to buy hunks of machinery and instantly write-it-off. How does that help me get a pay raise? John answers that it doesn’t. “You’re not a member of the club Jenny and neither are we.”
Jenny isn’t taking corporate money, Super-PAC money, or any corporate lobbying money at all. Over 1200 individuals have contributed to her campaign - from all over the place (11/01/2017). This is a people-powered campaign and she needs you. We need people in this district with boots on the ground, but we need money coming in to this campaign to provide materials in their hands and provide them with the resources they need to go to the doors and hand people something they can look at, she says. They haven’t yet made a determination on what to do about Union or PAC money. Her campaign is attempting to secure several endorsements and is still trying to navigate what is allowed and not by these groups, all of whom want to know if you’re a viable candidate. Jenny is pro-union (and a member herself), so she’d like to be able to take her brothers’ and sisters’ donations and use them in a way that would benefit all of the people in the 5th District. Jenny does prefer individual donations because she thinks it means more when it’s coming from a specific person than an entity, and John agrees. He says it is complicated and one has to be careful, one doesn’t want to complicate things for individuals. Sometimes it’s best to err on the side of caution (and not take it).
On the subject of racism, Jenny thinks that we insulate ourselves from communities that are different to us. She’d be willing she says, to step outside of her role as a person running for office, and hopefully as an office holder, to facilitate people breaking stereotypes and making connections, real ones with those communities that they don’t normally associate with. She grew up in a virtually all white community and didn’t fully understand what minority communities went through until she moved to NC. Contact, conversations and communication with people opened up her mind. It wasn’t that she had had feelings of racism, just that, some of the things she didn’t (have to) think about. She tries now to be a better advocate for minority communities. Thank you says John. It is difficult for a white person to talk about this, especially when the other Democrat in the race (Denise Adams) is African-American.
And on the subject of community policing, Jenny says we need to look at our inherent bias when it comes to relating to people of different communities – when we do we will be better people for other people (by breaking some of those stereotypes…) regardless of what our job is. Police officers though hold a higher level of responsibility towards their communities and looking at those issues of bias and going back to being a part of their communities rather than just the long arm of the law, is just responsible policing. We need to train our police officers in how to de-escalate situations. Education and reflection of the officers – making sure they are being sensitive to the communities in which they serve and reflective of those.
Jenny Marshall’s dad was in the army and there was a gun in their household when she was growing up. Lots of her family members also carry guns and so she doesn’t find them scary. She does believe that a better job needs to be done of training, universal background checks, closing the gun-show loophole and generally being smarter about keeping guns out of certain hands. I don’t know a responsible gun owner who’d say - let’s let everybody just have guns that wants them, and in any amount that they desire to. John appreciates the answer, but questions whether the average citizen needs an AR-15 in the home. Jenny says that she certainly doesn’t want one in her home, but that she‘s going to “leave it up to our communities to temper what we do and don’t do, and take guidance from the community that we live in”. I don’t think there is a necessity to have one she continues, but reckons that the community should decide if they’ve had enough, and whether it should be taken definitively off the market as has been the case with others. John for his part thinks that the community has spoken, but that the government is listening to the NRA. Jenny says that that is highly likely, but that a lot of the community are too (John agrees), and until we can have a calm, reasoned discussion about the qualities of having or nor having certain weapons she says, we’re not going to get anywhere because people automatically get very defensive when it comes to gun rights and I understand that because again we have the 2nd Amendment. However it is also often truncated, but as said, we need to have a reasoned, calm discussion and not politicized commercials and hyperbole, name throwing and accusatory language that don’t get us anywhere.
With regard to U.S. military spending, Jenny says it is obscene. That money doesn’t even trickle down to our service personnel and our Veterans, so we’re spending it on equipment and contracts that go out to companies that are cashing in. There’s no reason that we (should) have active military that are on food stamps, but we do, while our military budget just keeps ballooning up and up and up. Our VA system needs to be revamped and improved. The efficiency of getting people the medical care that they need, needs to be modernised, and I believe that Bernie Sanders had a bipartisan bill that got killed years ago, that would have addressed a lot of these issues, but it got killed, and our serving personnel and our Veterans are the ones who pay the price for that. Absolutely says John, having previously mentioned the disgraceful and shocking fact that 20 Veterans commit suicide every day.
And now to education. What does Jenny have to say? Private schools used to be just opportunities within our communities, now they’re safe havens for people who want to make a dollar out of public tax dollars and that’s a shame. Charter and private schools are gathering money like never before and stripping our public schools (…) from much needed funding. That needs to stop. Public schools should get public school dollars, private schools should be self-funded. So, says John, you’re not a fan of Betsy DeVos then. Not at all, says Jenny. She ruined Michigan’s public education system. All of these bills from (the) ALEC … they’ve just done a number on public perceptions of public education, even though their own perceptions (..) of their own child’s school is often good and they have very favourable remarks. Public education in America has been taken to task for all of societal flaws. She speaks of the defunding and over-regulation of public schools. Do more with less is just not a business model that we can attain to. Right says John, and that’s the same philosophy that our government has with anything that it doesn’t really want to pay for or support. Here’s the least amount we could possibly give you, with the least amount of support, and if you fail we’ll just cut it some more. Jenny remarks that it’s almost like they’re doing it on purpose. John answers that he thinks they are. Jenny continues, saying that you should not have to spend thousands of dollars out of your own pocket to supply for your own school classroom. I mean it’s ridiculous, we keep having to fight for enough copy paper and a copy machine that doesn’t break half way through the year. We fight to have heat in the building, and modern day bandwidth and computers and Wi-Fi and we should not have to, because we have enough money –but we’re not choosing to invest it in education, which is what fuels our future in America. We haven’t been funding education for decades, says John.
To close, Jenny reminds us that this campaign is not about her. It never has been, nor will it be. It’s all about the People and bringing the power back to the constituents that live in the 5th District. But we also know, she says, that our Congress people do not legislate in a bubble, so whatever Virginia Foxx does in Congress, affects all of us across the country and even the world. We need to put somebody back into Congress that does things from a people-building and community-building perspective. And we need everybody’s help in order to do so.
Good luck on May the 8th Jenny Marshall!
Sam Ronan on helping Progressives to work together, universal healthcare, climate change and technology...