League of Women Voters present the 14th District Democratic Candidates
The forum began with the moderator reading a statement from the candidate who was not able to attend. His statement was full of platitudes and sounded like a resume. The forum went on to opening statements where each candidate gave a short personal stories and readings of their resumes. Those who I had seen before were simply repeats of the same story I had heard before out of them.
The forum began with the first of many vanilla questions "What are your top three priorities in office?"
John Hosta(Jo) wanted to unprivatize the FED, fund Social Security (skipped the how), and expressed his desire for a free market healthcare solution (which we all know is not going to work).
Daniel Roldan-Johnson(D) wanted to push for gun reform, to address DACA, and address climate change by getting the US back into the Paris Climate Accords. All his statement were lacking hows, and I'll say this once because just about every candidate referenced the Paris Accords. The Paris Accords are symbolic, and the symbol they represent is a commitment to allowing the world to be destroyed by climate change. Many estimates say say the maximum sea level rise "allowed" by the Accords has already become inevitable. They have already been rendered pointless. They are none binding and do not require any action to be taken by any country and there is no mechanism to hold any country accountable. When people attempt to hold up this agreement, they are being misleading and demonstrating to me that they do not understand the urgency of the problem.
Lauren Underwood (L) wanted to stabilize the ACA, combat the opiate crisis, and fund infrastructure. All her statements were platitudes, and she continues the trend of Democrats holding up Romney Care, oops, I mean Obama Care; instead of talking about real solutions.
Jim Walz (Ji) wanted to pass a Medicare for All bill (someone taking a stand), move to renewable energy, and get money out of politics. His second two points were platitudes.
George Weber (G) wanted to End Citizens United, provide Universal Care, and pass and pass a Carbon Tax. Good specific policy objectives, but could have been more specific on the how of Universal Care.
Matthew Broly (M) wanted to end Citizens United, get the US back in the Paris Climate Accords, and fix the healthcare system. Aside from point one, all nothing statements. He added a fourth about a Carbon Tax.
The next low ball was "What is your position on Climate Change and a Carbon Tax.
There was more or less unanimous support for a Carbon Tax, and getting back in the Paris Climate Accords. A few commented about fracking being a bad practice but no one made a commitment to banning the practice. George made a good point about requiring the grid to remain open for solar producers as some power companies have attempted to cut them off of their grids. John made a good point about transitioning to superconducting power transmission and wireless electricity. Outside of these two comments, there was nothing substantial about climate change.
Time for a tough one, "How long will it take you to get up to speed, and get the House on track to fixing the country." Just kidding, no tough questions.
I'll save the platitudes and just mention the notable comments. Jim commented on the need to start building solar farms. George commented that we would go no where until we legislated away Citizens United. John commented that we need to end the wars in the middle east and focus at home on eliminating our debt (he mentioned the FED so it was a good continuation of a previous point) and that we needed to end the corruption of big money in politics. John was the only one who managed to substantially turn this weak question in some good points. George and Jim did their best, but everyone else made zone out by not talking about anything of substance besides platitudes and reading resumes. God I hate listening to people read off what they have done... This is not a job interview, we want your plan for the FUTURE.
The next question was actually not terrible, "comprehensive immigration reform includes?"
Everyone fumbled this question. Matthew and John mentioned a pathway to citizenship, but with nothing specific. Everyone seemed in support of DACA, but again, nothing specific. It always disappoints me. Maybe I'm wrong here, but I would rather hear a minute and a half about specifics instead of trying to mention everything all at once with no detail...
The next question really stumped everyone, including me. "How will you stay in touch with your constituents." You knew I was joking.
It was unanimous that town halls should be held. Matthew went a step further by saying he would ALSO hold a monthly meeting at local coffee shops or something of the like. Lauren would blog about all of her votes in addition to town halls. I'm not a fan of how moderate Brad Schneider is, but he does a good job making himself incredibly accessible. He does a thing where he ride the bus and talks to random people, he does weekly email updates on his activities, and holds office hours at his congressional office, on top of town halls. 30 seconds answer but everyone dropped the ball... Sports reference again?
"What is your position on gun reform and will you take NRA money?" Super standard.
Matthew was the only one to comment that he would seek a repeal of the Dickey Amendment (a ban on the CDC researching gun control), universal background check (supported by all but John, kinda), and a ban on assault rifles. John stated that he thought it should be up to the state governments to regulate fire arms (which is similar to how each state does driver licensing so its kind of a non answer but I'm not completely opposed), and that schools needed more security. The second point was proven to be a worthless comment due the security guard at the Parkland shooting... Lauren said that she was opposed to conceal carry, but did not say whether she wanted it banned. This is my whole problem with Lauren and the corporate Emily's List (DCCC) candidates. Her personal story for running is about how the Republican incumbent made a commitment that he then went back on, but she didn't seem to make a hard commitment to anything all night aside from a commitment to SUPPORTING a Carbon Tax, supporting universal background checks, and rights to abortion access. How do big donors choose candidates? They pick the weak ones who don't commit to reforming the system.
The next low ball, "Will you fight to uphold access to abortions?"
John was the only candidate who was pro-life. Everyone else made the same weak arguement "it should be the woman's choice!" which has never, ever convinced anyone to change their mind. We really need to get people who can make better points... Here's one: The sixth leading cause of death for women between the ages of 20 and 35 is complications due to pregnancy. This is the only medical procedure that we attempt to force on people. Another? Studies show that pregnancy can age a woman's body by up to eleven years. That is quite a burden you want to force on another person. Less related but still on topic: Even if you are pro-life, you must concede that statistically speaking, the best way to reduce the number of abortions performed is by providing unlimited access to contraceptive care and having in depth, anatomy based, sex education in schools. A point for the men up there to take the lead? I support legislation that would change House/Senate rules for an abortion ban, where only female Reps/Senators would be able to cast a vote in favor of banning abortions. Meaning the only way to get a ban passed would be in the case that over half of both the House and Senate to be female AND those members votes would still need to make up 51% of ALL House and Senate seats. This would force all men to recuse themselves from any such vote.
The last amazing question of the night, "Why can you win in November?"
Lauren missed the fact that just because there are more women in the district does not in any way mean that a female candidate has an advantage over a male candidate, evident by the fact that over half of white women voted for Trump and this is a pretty white area... Others went ahead and touted their endorsements. That's nice but its pretty lame reason. Its regarded as fact that endorsements mean almost nothing. John actually made a good argument, saying that he was the most conservative and past votes in the district have shown that conservative candidates have a better chance of winning. The stats (and assumption the candidate he is referencing is conservative) back him up in this.
Time for closing statements. Wait... Already? But no one has referenced foreign policy, the surveillance state, or intelligence industry oversight yet...
G: He makes a point about the struggle between share holders and workers, which sounds like he is getting at the Labor Parties "Right of First Refusal" to transform the UK into a co-op economy, but he falls short.
Ji: He says it will take a movement to win this seat, which is true, touts some endorsements, but that's about it.
L: She admits that the "blue wave" every democrat has been talking about is a complete fantasy unless we go out and work for it. At least she admitted that democrats probably have no chance to take over.
D: He thanked us for listening to the groups ideas, but its funny because he said the least all night...
M: He didn't really say anything of substance... I wasn't even sure how to take notes on his comment.
Jo: He had a good closing statement: "I've given you a platform that can win." Which is true, and he supported with statistical evidence in the last question. He also made my favorite comment of the night that we need to be thinking bigger than the ideas tonight because our dollar is going to collapse if we don't address the fact that its value is tied to oil, which is we are all talking about ending the use of; and he said the golden word "petrodollar." He also referenced the collapse of bank system, relying on the FED and the constant creation o new debt to pay old debt.
How do I score debates: A candidate gets one point for each policy they take a concrete and specific stance on, regardless of if I agree. Ex: We need to protect a women's right to an abortion. No point. I will support legislation to increase abortion access in small communities. Point.
According to my score, John Hosta won on the issues.
My personal score: Each time candidate scores a point, they get either a smiley face, a frowny face, or nothing. Smile for a policy point I like, a frown for one I dislike, and nothing for policy points that have unanimous support and constantly talked about. Ex: I support Medicare for All- gets a smile. I support Universal background checks- gets nothing. I support a free market solution (stabilizing the ACA)- gets a frown.
According to this score, John Hosta also won. He got both the most frowns and the most smiles. 1 smile = 1 frown. Even with the most frowns to offset, he still got the most smiles.
I declare John Hosta the victor based on my evaluation.