President Trump called some members of Congress treasonous because they didn’t applaud for him during parts of his State of the Union speech. He doesn’t understand the First Amendment Right of Freedom of Speech also means no person is compelled to cheer for something they don’t agree with, no person. Exercising our Freedom of Speech is one of the most patriotic things any one of us can do. I applaud the people who cheered the President, and I applaud the people who did not cheer. That is freedom. We must not settle for less.

The science of man-made climate change

What is your view on the science of man-made climate change? Do you support action to reduce the output of greenhouse gases? If so, what steps do you favor?

Climate change is evidenced in the increasing severity and frequency of storms.  To have three 500 to 1,000 year storms in a 5 year period, that has brought unprecedented flooding to the United States, a higher average yearly temperature, and measurable rises in sea levels show the effects of climate change.  We can take innovative actions to sequester green house gases.  We can plant trees to contain carbon for a short time, use cleaner fuels, use renewable resources, and encourage the use of alternative energy sources in the developing world.  Providing leadership on the world stage can help make a significant difference, especially where emerging economies rely upon dirty fuel sources.

Grayson County Courthouse steps

Illegal immigration

Make America gracious again DACA

Illegal immigration is a complex problem that deserves a more careful set of answers than what we have been offering.  We may not like the idea of immigrants coming here without documents, and seek to punish them or put up walls to stop them.  At the same time that we strengthen laws against illegal immigration or try to prevent their entry with a physical barrier, we also rely upon their cheap labor for food production, for putting a new roof on our home, for construction of a new building, to meet the most basic healthcare needs for our elderly, or in restaurants or other service industry businesses.  We want the work of their hands, but don’t want to see their faces.   We want the sweat of their brows, but not the more complicated problems that come with it..

We need a realistic policy that provides opportunities for work that we want done, an adequate and reasonable vetting process that can provide them with documentation, and protections for both sides of this equation when it comes to remuneration, assurances of employment, and healthcare that doesn’t bust the budgets of our local hospitals.

We need to reestablish the safeguards of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.  The young people whom I have met who would come under this program are some of the hardest working individuals I know.  They are dedicated patriots who long to become citizens of the United States, the only home that most of them have known.  We need their resourcefulness, their talent, and their commitment to this nation.

The widening gap between the rich and the poor

The gap between the rich and the poor in America is widening. Is this a problem for the country, and if so what should Congress do about it? What action should Congress take, if any?

This is a profound problem for America.  The greater the income inequality is between rich and poor, the less there is a sense of understanding or care for people on either side of this divide.  I am not against wealth.  I am not against people prospering.  But for this gap to be widened even further with lavish tax breaks for the wealthy, at the expense of programs that support the poor, bolster the middle class, provide health coverage for children, simple meals for people who cannot get out of their homes is a shameful act.  Many of the people in Congress came from more humble backgrounds.  If they are aware of their own history, they should commit themselves to preserving these protections that have been put in place.  Some of these very members of Congress relied upon programs like these when they may have been hungry as children or needed help to get an education.

With the programs that are being cut in order to provide these tax cuts, it seems like there is a growing sense of contempt for people who have less than Members of Congress.  We are moving in the wrong direction, especially if the United States is to remain vital and competitive in the world.  We simply cannot have contempt for our own people.  And yet, that seems to be what is behind the actions being taken.

We need to move strongly in a different direction that upholds and encourages work and thrift, and provides stepping stones for those who want to step up.  We need to support our public schools with adequate tools and resources to provide a good education for our children.  Our public schools are the foundations of every community in our district.  To drain them of funds and valuable resources in order to support private elementary and secondary educations for the children of wealthy families is to diminish one of the best institutions where we learn how to be a democracy and what it is to be Americans.  Congress should be about supporting public schools and providing a better education for all of our children.

What do you make of President Donald Trump?

What do you make of President Donald Trump’s style and agenda? Do you view him as an ally, a breath of fresh air in a capital that needs to be shaken up? Or as volatile, dangerous and out of his depth? Or something in between? What would your role be in working with or against him?

President Trump may have good intentions.  Many of the promises he made on the campaign trail sounded like his commitments were for all of us.  But in this chaotic approach to governance more basic priorities seem to have won the day.  Those priorities are enriching the wealthy at the expense of the poor and middle class.  His refusal to disclose his taxes and his income keep the public from knowing how he may be enriched by the tax reform that he is signing into law.  The White House should not be used as a place to enrich one’s self.

His lack of confidence in the intelligence community is an insult to some of our best and most dedicated public servants.  If there is nothing to hide, there should be an open book approach to these investigations.  More officials have compromised themselves when they have tried to avoid scrutiny than when they have faced investigations openly.

Where President Trump is willing to work on programs that offer real support to working Americans, middle class Americans who are sacrificing for a better future for their families, poor and vulnerable people who look for opportunities to get ahead, children who have a better, brighter future when they have help with healthcare like the Children’s Health Insurance Program and Early Childhood Intervention, offering support for vocational, college, and university tuition,  affordable access to healthcare so that people can take responsibility for their health and well being, and continuing support for hunger programs that help veterans and the elderly have food that sustains them, I will work wholeheartedly with him to see that these things are done.  My opponent, on the other hand, would oppose every one of these measures, even if promoted by the President, and fights hard against every program that doesn’t in some way singularly enrich his wealthy donors.  As we support the working men and women of the United States, we will all prosper, rich and poor alike.

Democrats Candidates Forum
Lindy Olsen, Kim Olson, Kate Whitfield, Lander Bethel at Candidates Forum

What political leader do you most admire and why?

What political leader do you most admire and why?

FDR and MLK.

Franklin Roosevelt was a person of wealth and privilege.  He saw our country at a point of severe crisis.  He led our nation in caring for the neediest people, putting in place some of the most significant social programs supporting ordinary Americans, established banking laws that offered protections to the public, and put people back to work so that they could support themselves and their families.  The United States prospered again, following WWII, which gave rise to the middle class, offered hope for a brighter future for working Americans, and the wealthy prospered, too.  His priorities helped all of us move in a better direction.

Martin King saw the connections between deepening poverty and national spending that was so heavily weighted toward the military. It’s important that we have a strong military.  But when we are building tanks in Ohio, that the military says are not needed, and they come off the assembly line to be mothballed, we are acting on distorted values.  Martin King stood for all people who are poor.  He saw that we could be a better nation where we would recognize one another as equals, created in the image of God.  He helped move us toward being a better nation and a better people.  We need to lay aside our fears and move ahead with courage.

Voting Rights Act

When the Supreme Court struck down key provisions of the Voting Rights Act, many lawmakers on both sides vowed to update the law. That hasn’t happened. Should Congress strengthen the existing Voting Rights Act, and if so how?

Congress should strengthen the Voting Rights Act, which protects and encourages the right to vote for all of our citizens.  We have the obligation to protect that right and to encourage the exercise of it.  The problem in the United States has never been an over vote or significant voter fraud.  It has been the under vote.  Strengthening the Voting Rights Act by eliminating biases or offering protections to people who might be excluded by race, ethnicity, age, or party affiliation assures us that our democracy functions as it was intended.