Saturday, August 19, 2017

Get To Know Kansas Progressive Democrat Jim Thompson A Little Better-- The Reddit AMA


Earlier this week Kansas Berniecrat James Thompson, the progressive candidate running for the Wichita-based congressional seat (KS-04) did an Ask Me Anything on the Sanders For President reddit page. If you were unable to participate, the archive is available at the link just above. Thompson has been endorsed by Blue America and we enthusiastically vouch for his character and his positions. He's our kind of candidate. Here are some of the questions and responses that I hope will help you get a better understanding of who James Thompson is and why he deserves your support.
Q: In a state that historically votes Republican, what do you plan on doing differently as a democrat to capture some of the moderate vote or even some of the Republican vote?

JT: We only had 60 days during the special election to get out to 16 and a half counties-- talking to people and hearing their concerns is the key. This time, we have 15 more months to go out and listen. I believe that people will follow their convictions and choose me over my opponent if they're just given the chance to meet me. With all the success we had in just two months in our April election, imagine what we're going to do with a full election cycle!... I'm going to get out to the whole district more, talk to as many folks as possible, and help build infrastructure across the district. Specifically, we're working to register voters and continue the progress we made in Sedgwick County, and building out across the district. We believe this will help up and down the ballot. We're identifying and supporting local candidates. We're doing weekly training with volunteers working with these local campaigns... I know a lot of Republicans who respected Bernie Sanders because they always knew where he stood in regard to the general public. I will also never waver in my fight for the people of Kansas. While we may not always see eye to eye, people from all parties respect me because they know I care about them and the issues impacting their lives. That's something that's important regardless of party. In the end, people want leaders who are real."

Q: 5 months ago in an AMA, you wrote: "I like the idea of single payer, I don't see it getting accomplished in our current political environment. The main goal is to make sure that everyone gets covered, and we have to keep pushing towards that goal in whatever steps we can take to get there." I have some follow ups and want to know your current opinion of Medicare For All.
1- Most importantly, would you co-sign HR 676 if elected?
2- What steps do you think we should take to get to universal coverage?
3- Shouldn't the main goal instead be to get everyone healthcare without a financial burden, not just "covered"? Many people are "covered" by the ACA but have such high premiums and deductibles that they are too discouraged by costs to go to the doctor. Also, medical debt is the #1 cause by far of personal bankruptcy.
JT: 1- I would absolutely be a co-signer for HR 676 because that's where I want us to go, eventually. Rep. Conyers' bill has a lot of good pieces to it. However, I think that this bill as it stands now faces a hard uphill battle to pass in the current political environment.
2- I plan to push for a Medicare public option, similar to what was in the original Affordable Care Act before it was removed in the Senate. If you want to learn more about where I stand on healthcare, please check out our healthcare town hall coming up on this Sunday, August 20th. We'll be livestreaming the Q&A from 4:00 P.M. to 6:00 P.M. CST on our Facebook and Twitter pages!
3- There's always going to be a financial burden for healthcare. The goal is to make it affordable for everyone; so yes, I agree with you. This public option will decrease costs for everyone because the program will also have the power to negotiate medical costs and drug costs. There will be some, namely the very poor, who would be unable to pay for coverage with a premium. The public option will have a large enough risk pool, however, that we can cover the unemployed and very poor.

NOBODY should ever be forced into bankruptcy because of a medical crisis. We have a moral obligation to ensure that everyone in our country receives healthcare.

Q: What was the most surprising and/or difficult thing you learned about running for office? What advice do you have for anyone who might be thinking about running for office, especially if they might not have institutional support?

JT: Great question. The most surprising thing? Some of our worst enemies are within our own party. That was pretty disappointing, and the most difficult thing to come to terms with. But that's OK. You just have to build up your campaign, your vision and your movement on your own terms. My advice? Be true to yourself, no matter what. Stay authentic. Don't talk at people, listen to them and discuss issues. If you want to help on a grassroots level, that's amazing, because that's exactly what we're going to need: click here.

Q:: As a civil rights lawyer, what's your take on tearing down the confederate statues?

JT: As a civil rights lawyer, and as a human being, I believe they should be taken off of public lands. I believe they belong in a museum, and not in places of honor like public squares or schools. They should serve as reminders of a history we need to remember but not memorialize.

Q: You ran in the special election, and for that race, you were considered the sign that midwest progressivism was a real thing.

What have you learned, other than you need to get more people in rural areas?

JT: We learned many important lessons, the need for rural outreach being central among them. We also learned that there's not a great deal of difference between what urban and rural voters want. We all want a good job to support ourselves and their families, a good education for our kids, and affordable healthcare.

Most importantly, though, is that people respond to authenticity. I never said anything on the trail that I didn't believe and refused to hedge on my convictions. Voters can smell bullshit from a mile away. More Democrats need to stand up for their progressive beliefs and stop running away from them!

Q: What are your foreign policy views? Specifically, in what circumstances would you advocate military intervention?

Thanks for doing this!

JT: I believe we should always seek diplomatic solutions before using force. If diplomacy fails, we should seek to create multinational alliances as we did during the first Gulf War. Unilateral actions should only be used when American lives or land is at stake. I believe in the Powell Doctrine that says if you use force, you should use overwhelming force.

Q: Stand up for progressive values (like Bernie) and you might win. If you try to be "conservative lite," you don't deserve to win.

JT: I agree! We can't pretend to be Republicans running under a different banner anymore. It's time for us to stand up and make our voices heard and run as proud progressives.

Q: What policies would you support to strengthen the union movement; i.e. increase union membership and make it easier to form/join a union, etc. Also, what do you think of a federal jobs program, similar to the WPA, that would be devoted to the transition to green energy.

JT: The best thing we can do is ensure if employees have an election petition, that they hold that election within a short timeframe, say 21 days. If you give longer than 21 days, companies often wage a misinformation campaign. During the Bush administration, many stretched out campaigns over years. If we're to be a democracy, we need to honor the right to organize. We need to give teeth back to the NLRA. It's been watered down continually since the Wagner Act, making it harder and harder to organize. Right now, the NLRB is rolling back more and more rules that help workers make their voice heard in the workplace. W/r/t a federal green jobs program, I think the idea is good in theory, but I'd be curious to see legislation dedicated to this before proceeding. Green energy is an economic engine in Kansas, and it's the right thing to do, so of course I like that idea.

Q: Should there be a "litmus test" on abortion for Democrat candidates?

JT: I am a pro-woman candidate and I support our Constitution and the Democratic platform, which are both pro-choice. I believe we should be seeking other pro-woman candidates whenever we can find them. I trust women to make decisions about their own healthcare. I also support a woman's right to accessible and affordable birth control. In the end, being pro-woman is not solely about access to abortion. We need to close the wage gap, make health care affordable, ensure families have access to affordable and excellent childcare, encourage our school girls to be involved in the hard sciences and mathematics... among other things. This is just a start. Women's rights are human rights and none of us make progress until we on equal footing. As far as a "litmus test," I will leave that up to voters to decide.

Q: Hey James-- I live in Olathe (KS for you non-Kansans, which isn't in his district). Thanks for doing this AMA.

How do you see the race between Democrats shaping up in your area? I know Lawrence would have a lot of further left supporters, but I'm not as familiar with Wichita. But outside that, it seems like you'd be trying to attract more center left rural Dems, who maybe wouldn't have supported Bernie.

What's your take on how segmented Dems are between center and further left, and what your approach is to attracting each group?

Edit: Another follow-up question-- I think we're familiar with the type of talking points you're running on, but if you're elected, what are the things you'll work on where you expect to actually get something done in a currently GOP-dominated Congress?

JT: Great questions. I believe progressive values are much more prevalent in rural areas than many people believe. Rather than try to shift my positions with the various political winds out there, I give my opinion on what I believe to be right. People respond to authenticity and honesty and want their elected representatives to listen, even if they disagree. I think Bernie winning the Democratic caucus, and then our special election showed that the Democrats as a collective group respond to the progressive platform. I do believe there is some segmentation in the party but that people will hopefully come together for the greater good. It often plays itself out in a Hillary vs Bernie model, which is counterproductive. 2016 is over and we need to move on together.

Goal ThermometerWhen I am elected, I will go to Washington to get things accomplished regardless of who holds the majority. That means looking for common ground. For example, infrastructure is a great area where both sides can come together and accomplish great things for the good of this country. Kansas is in desperate need of infrastrure repair and improvements, especially in the rural areas and green energy. This will create good jobs with fair wages. I also see opportunity in Agriculture with the upcoming farm bill to provide certainty for our producers. Education is also ripe for reform to better fund our schools and protect our teachers. Finally, healthcare is an area where I think we can make improvements and get somethings accomplished to reduce the burden on Americans, particularly in regards to closing loopholes in the ACA that cause hardship on poor people in states like Kansas because of the Republicans refusal to expand Medicaid.
If you happen to be in Wichita on Sunday... James' campaign is hosting a healthcare town hall tomorrow to hear from the people of Kansas about their concerns and ideas for America's healthcare system. It's planned for 4pm at Aero Plains Brewing, 117 N Handley St in Wichita. If you can't make it and want to support Jim's campaign, please consider clicking on the Blue America ActBlue thermometer just above and contributing what you can. Just because the DCCC persists on writing off huge swathes of America, it doesn't mean progressives have to.

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At 7:02 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Too waffly on MFA and he's running in fucking KS. Otherwise, not too bad.

Unfortunate he's running as a democrap and will probably get resistance from his "party".
And too bad he doesn't live somewhere that a progressive stands a decent chance to win.
I have progressive kin there and even THEY know they are not going to win anything until the brownback ratfucking ends up actually bankrupting the state. And maybe not even then. It's fucking KS ferkrissakes. It's Alabama but flatter.


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