Katie Dunne, Passionate believer in democracy and member of UHM's Digital Media Content Crew.
Randy Bryce on Unions; Campaign funding; Healthcare; the Military budget; Cannabis; Guns; Public funding of elections and The Fairness Doctrine.
Randy Bryce was interviewed by #WeThePeople on 6/28/2017. Paul Ryan has since decided to retire from politics and Randy beat Cathy Myers in the Primary. He is now the Democratic candidate in Wisconsin’s 1st Congressional District. The other candidates left in the race are Bryan Steil - the Republican and Ken Yorgan - the Independent.
Randy is a US Army Veteran, cancer survivor, union iron-worker and - John tells us, a Berniecrat. He has both a great ad - which brought a lot of attention his way, and a tagline on his website: “I decided to run for office because not everyone is seated at the table, and it’s time to make a bigger table.” His twitter handle is IronStache and his mustache – John says, has risen to fame. Randy smiles and agrees that it has. They joke about memes. John introduces Laura.
Randy has been an activist since 2 days after the 2011 Wisconsin Act 10 was announced. He supports unions and not “Right-to-work”. Bernie Sanders showed up at that time, to talk about collective bargaining rights – which were under attack. Randy hadn’t heard of him before that, but thought Bernie was fantastic. When the latter ran for President, he stood out as far as Randy was concerned. This was somebody who did things he himself did, such as standing on picket lines … He liked the whole of Bernie’s message and went on to become a surrogate for him. John shares that Bernie woke him up. It was May 2015. Bernie Sanders announced his candidacy and was promptly ignored by MSM. So John got to thinking that if this guy had been doing this for 30 years, then he (John) could (at least) do something now!
Randy ran twice before (for State Assembly and State Senate). Both experiences taught him a lot. This time the media has been mostly complimentary, except for the Washington Post / Associated Press. “This union worker wants Paul Ryan’s job. He’s got a great ad but a losing record.” John doesn’t agree. It shows Randy is a fighter he reckons. Apparently - Randy says, if you type Paul Ryan’s name into Google, my name comes up. That’s beautiful – laughs John. People in YouTube chat are pointing out that the Washington Post is owned by Jeff Bezos – who is very NOT for unions.
(Hot Spot News) asks whether Mr Bryce is swearing off corporate money à la Bernie Sanders. Randy says he is swearing off the money from Wall Street. I’m not going to turn down money from causes that I support, but I’m not going to take from people who are destroying things and making our life uninhabitable. We do stuff with PNC (Personal Banking) or the Bank of Labor, that support unions. Once elected – Randy says, his goal would be public financing of campaigns, but that it would be foolish to handcuff himself at this stage and to say that he is not going to take any money from any company if he is going after someone like Paul Ryan. That’s a practical response - replies John.
Other questions Laura? Yes – she says. (Ashley) wants to know what Randy’s impressions are of the other Democratic candidates in the race (primary). Randy indicates that he is focused on going after Paul Ryan. I have nothing negative to say about either of them. It’s great that others also want to get rid of him. Randy is counting on people knowing where he has been and what he has done since 2011. He has strong community roots. You’re ‘seasoned’ - says John. How important - John continues, is money in this campaign? Really important – Randy responds, but people have been very generous from the get-go. The average contribution is around $28 and so far we have 10,000 donors (6/28/2017). It will be a people-powered campaign.
John shows a video (MSM) – where Randy speaks of his family and his opinion that it is a basic right that everyone should have insurance and be able to go see a doctor when they need to, in order to be healthy and to live a fulfilling life. John comments that healthcare has to be the most primary issue for everyone, and asks why there is a division about this in the Democratic Party. Good question – says Randy. It’s all about how to cover everybody. Some think it’s safe to try to patch up Obamacare. There are protections that need to be in place until we get to a Single Payer healthcare system. It is a big thing to take on, but look at U.S. history. Every country we had a military conflict with, has some kind of universal healthcare. If it’s good enough for them, then why is it not for us? He then refers to the amount of money that the U.S. spends on bombs to blow things up and then on sending no-bid contractors in to fix things. It’s crazy – he says.
You’re a veteran Randy – John states. If elected will you take a stand on the military budget and the Military Industrial Complex? Absolutely - answers Randy, speaking of how much more the U.S. spends military budget wise than other countries. Our military is unbelievably strong – he says. He doesn’t believe that all countries want to be on friendly terms with the U.S. and does feel that the U.S. has every right to defend itself in a quite aggressive manner if need be. However it isn’t right he reckons, when kids are hungry in the U.S. and yet there is enough money to do the research on a new bomb to kill kids in other countries. John remembers this same conversation in the 1980s. Randy tells us that it was an eye-opening experience working with homeless vets shortly after getting out of the army. If you want to spend all this money sending us to war – he says, then take care of us properly when we return!
John continues – What about cannabis - which is an issue close to my heart? I have epilepsy. Randy tells him that he would sign anything that would decriminalize it right away. It is not more harmful than alcohol. I see opioid addiction as a (real) issue. Treat people, don’t jail them. It’s hard to re-assimilate them into society afterwards too. At this point John wonders whether Randy is familiar with (the concept of) restorative justice? I can’t say that I know specifics on it – Randy replies. John offers to get him connected with the Longmont (Community) Justice (Partnership), which he explains is basically community-based holistic justice. They bring all parties together to hash out the problem and find a solution so that the individual (at fault) can be reintegrated into society. Randy really thinks that that’s a great idea. He is a proponent of “ban the box”. For us in the building trade - he says, it’s about where do you want to go, not where have you been. He gives details and John comments that listening to Randy’s description of the training that the union provides makes him wish there was that that kind of intense training for police officers!
They talk about gun control. John says that he doesn’t own a gun, but doesn’t have a problem with people owning them. Randy reckons that the gun-show loophole has to be closed. You need to make sure that the people buying them are responsible. Also, look at the fact that it is always guys (not women) shooting things up. Randy’s dad is a retired cop - a nice one … training must be included too – he says. There are too many stories of unarmed people getting shot. I respect cops - Randy continues, but not cops who stand up for cops who shouldn’t be on the force. John tells him that around the world cops have a relationship with the communities they serve. That is something that Randy can relate to and he quotes an example to us, where the result was that the crime rate went down dramatically. So would you support legislation – John asks, saying that we need to put some money into an effort for community policing, training and de-escalating the violence? Absolutely – Randy replies.
Laura has questions in YouTube chat about fracking and climate change, and in general asking what Randy’s position on all of this is. He tells us that he sees that there is a lot of opportunity for jobs rebuilding infrastructure and that being as dependent on fossil fuels is problematic, as is a lack of renewable resources. Wisconsin banned “noisy” wind turbines. Solar is around – he says, but it’s not a big thing.
Randy then tells a story about Joy Reid and MSM and John laughs with him, before adding though that MSM have an opportunity to regain integrity with the people here. Randy mentions The Fairness Doctrine and the 1996 Telecommunications Act. He says he worked with Sue Wilson from the Media Action Center (CA), which is a fantastic resource for learning about this subject. Laura takes note. Would you - if elected, work to revise the laws now governing our news stations – John asks? Randy replies that - as previously said, he liked the Fairness Doctrine when it was in place and he also wants public funding of elections. There is so much wrong (gerrymandering, dialing for dollars…) with (the) people who are chosen to represent us now! He adds that he would also like to see union money gone.
To conclude, Randy tells everyone that his video says it all. He is successful because it is a basic message. People are looking for someone they can trust, looking to have a voice (a bigger table), to participate (in) life. I’m just a working guy who wants to stand up for working people.
John thanks Randy for his honesty and for speaking from the heart. Randy has chosen The Worker’s Song by Dropkick Murphys as an outro. He says that the group is like-minded politically and one of them even donated to his campaign – which made his day!
The links are in the video description. Good luck on November 6th, 2018 Randy Bryce!
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