Each new generation offers new hope and new leaders. Millennials view our current political system with disdain, and too many have no desire to engage because they simply don’t trust those in power
Other young people see what’s wrong with government and believe they have solutions. One of them, Terence Strait, resides in Maryland and he is running for a seat in the House Of Representatives – district 4. He’s a self-described Democratic Socialist and has a clear vision of how to improve the status quo.
He answered some very specific questions detailing his vision below:
You describe yourself as a Democratic Socialist, can you talk a little more about that?
It’s actually pretty simple. That means I believe that it is the job of the government to work for the greater good of the people. Rather than putting profits above all other considerations, we should be looking at what impact different policies have on the average person. Does it make sense that people are dependent on their employer for health care? Or that your boss can fire you for no reason at all, and then you can’t pay your mortgage and end up on the street? I don’t think so. I think that there are things that government can do to make this a better country for everyone, not just the wealthy. It is a system that has worked well around the world, most notably in countries like Norway and Sweden. I believe in looking around the country and around the world, to see what works best, and adapting those policies for use here in the US.
What will you do to raise the minimum wage?
I believe that the minimum wage should be a living wage. No matter what kind of work you do, you should at least be able to house and feed yourself. I will support ongoing efforts to raise the minimum wage and then peg it to inflation, so it cannot be held up by Congress. However, I also believe that this is only a first step. The trend toward automation isn’t going to stop. In fact, it is likely to accelerate. We must put in place a system that addresses the growing systemic unemployment. This is likely to end up being some form of universal basic income, though other possibilities exist.
What are your feelings towards the LGBTQ community?
I think that the fact that this question even needs to be asked is kind of sad. I see them as people, deserving of all the same rights and respect that we give everyone else.
What is your stance on wage equality?
I think it’s appalling that this is even still an issue. Legally speaking, it shouldn’t be one. There are a number of laws on the books that should prevent wage disparity. One fact that is frequently overlooked is the role of wage secrecy in driving inequality. Many companies have policies in place that prohibit employees from discussing their wages, even though such policies are illegal. If we step up enforcement of existing labor laws, the resultant transparency will go a long way toward closing the wage gap.
What is your stance on the legalization of marijuana
I am pro-legalization of marijuana. Not only does marijuana have legitimate medical uses, it is less harmful than tobacco or alcohol. Additionally, hemp has a variety of commercial uses that legalization would allow people to make use of, such as paper and clothing. Most importantly, legalization could finally start to eliminate the horrifying mass incarceration currently occurring in this country.
How will my life improve if you are elected?
Well, for one you will be more informed about what is going on in Congress. Many laws are written in dense legal terminology, and I plan to release plain language descriptions for bills that I work on. You will also benefit from having lies called out for what they are. Most importantly, your future will be protected. Right now Congress acts with no regard for the future implications of those actions. By blocking environmental protections, they sped up global warming. By raising the retirement age while simultaneously cutting Social Security benefits, they are effectively making you work longer for less. By using automation as an excuse to not raise the minimum wage while refusing to act on the looming increases in structural unemployment that said automation will bring about, they will put a very large group of Americans into grinding poverty. All of these things are going to impact your life within the next few decades.
Do you have a plan for approaching the mess that is healthcare?
I agree with Bernie Sanders that a single payer system is the way to go. Medicare for all is frequently how it is described, but we actually have another system that is reflective of the concept of healthcare as a human right. The Department of Veterans Affairs has its problems, a large one being insufficient funding to handle the rapid influx of disabled veterans resulting from a decade and a half of wars, but is actually very good at providing healthcare when compared to private insurance.
Do you think the image of politicians has become so tarnished that they should be required to take polygraphs, like federal agents?
I agree that the image of politicians has become horribly tarnished, but I don’t know that polygraph tests would do anything to help that. The reason polygraph results are not admissible in court is because they are unreliable, can give false positives, and can be beaten. You might get a higher class of liar through implementing polygraphs, but I don’t think that’s what we want. Holding politicians accountable for the things they say is absolutely a good idea, but the implementation should be measuring what they say against how they vote. There isn’t currently a good system for doing that, but I’d like to see one created.
Corporate greed seems to be at a fever pitch, to the detriment of the workers and the environment. How do you propose to make corporations more responsible? They also seem to get away without paying taxes. How would you make them pay their fair share?
Corporate executives have a single driving goal – making more money. While consumers can choose to reward responsible companies with their business, the role of Congress is limited to regulating their actions. Unfortunately, the power of various industrial lobbies makes passing these types of regulations difficult. As far as taxes go, our current tax code is so riddled with loopholes and exemptions that it needs to be rebuilt from the ground up. Taxing revenues where they are made will help limit exploitation of tax havens.
Women’s rights to their own bodies are under attack across the country. Is there something you can do in Congress to stop this?
Actually yes, and it’s twisting a strategy that has been used by some states to prevent localities from raising minimum wages or banning fracking. Congress could pass a law stating “No state may impose medically unnecessary restrictions on abortion providers or restrict access to affordable family planning and health services. Any such law passed shall be unenforceable. A council of physicians shall be convened by the Department of Health and Human Services to determine what restrictions may be deemed medically necessary for the safety of the public.”
Will you help ratify the Equal Rights Amendment?
Absolutely. I will sponsor a bill to removed the expired deadline, and I will encourage my colleagues to do the same. Most don’t realize the ERA is a bi-partisan, economic issue that will help all Americans and guarantee a more equal future.
Climate change could quite possibly change everything about our way of life. How will you help combat it?
The easiest action to address climate change is to transition to renewable sources of energy, as quickly as possible. I have installed solar panels on my roof, and I would like to see that be an option for as many people as possible. Next, we should be facilitating the move toward electric vehicles, including developing an infrastructure that contains charging stations as ubiquitous as gas stations are currently. Those charging stations could be solar and wind powered, which could make recharging virtually free. Finally, we need to start reversing the damage that has already been done. For much of this we will require international cooperation, but there are some things that we can do here at home. For example, there are water treatment plants that use algae to create oil, which recaptures carbon from the air. Globally, this would include replanting many of the forests that have been removed over the past several decades. One thing that I’ve heard talked about recently is the idea of terraforming other planets so they would be hospitable to life. Before we do that, we should probably try to keep our own planet hospitable to life.
What do you think of the growing claims regarding a ‘War on Christianity’ in America?
I think most of these claims are coming from people who don’t understand the concept of freedom of religion. Freedom of religion is being free to worship (or not) as you choose. It does not mean forcing other people to adhere to your religious beliefs. That’s the opposite of freedom of religion. People talk about prohibitions on discrimination, or women being able to make their own health care decisions, or people being able to marry who they love, as being some kind of war on their religious liberty. It simply isn’t. When atheists are forbidden from holding public office, or Muslims are barred from building a mosque in their own city, that is an assault on religious liberty. People who want to live in a free country should understand that. Especially people who want to lead a free country.
To learn more, visit Strait For Congress.