Your fundraising efforts—and those of your fellow Democrats—pale in comparison to your Republican opponents. Can you win without “big money” and how?
Over 40 years ago, I began my civic activism using a mimeograph machine and phone trees. I hope I can win without big money for TV ads. I cannot be bought. I hope the in-kind, hard work of supporters will overcome the moneybags of my opponent.
Tennessee Democrats have been marginalized and all but shut out in the years since Marilyn Lloyd retired her congressional seat in 1995 after 20 years in office. The so-called Red Tide began with the Newt Gingrich’s “Republican Revolution” in 1994 and has continued ever since. The 2010 mid-term elections were specifically painful for Democrats, losing the House and barely holding on to a majority in the Senate. What went wrong?
I think sound bites and wedge issues, together with racial prejudice led the 2010 defeats. David Koch very effectively funded and began the Tea Party. Newt Gingrich very effectively seized the evangelist religious voters. Democrats have been disorganized. The average voter has been misled by PR campaigns. For example, why was the sugar drink tax to help fund the Affordable Care Act abandoned? Those drinks cause much of the obesity that increases health care costs. It makes no sense to fund ACA with a real estate transfer tax on sales over $250,000.
Tell us a bit about yourself beyond what your website and talking points reveals. From all we’ve read, you are a successful doctor and might otherwise be enjoying the later years of your life. What gives? Have you always been interested in politics and why did you decide to run for office now?
I have always loved children, my family, my patients. I have always loved our democracy. I don’t have a greedy bone in my body. I am not hungry for power. However, I have been losing sleep for years worrying about the threats to our children, their families, our democracy and our rule of law. Newt Gingrich’s religious right threatened my religious freedom. Osama Bin Laden’s al-Quaeda still threatens our lives and society. President Bush endangered us by declaring war in Iraq. Leaders endanger us by ignoring science and climate change, by allowing big banks and the financial sector to steal our pension funds, jobs and assets, including our homes and by failing to tax fairly and budget well. Drug abuse threatens our communities.
I feel I personally am at a stage in my life where I can make a political difference. If not now, then when? If not me, then who? Frankly, if I had known Bill Taylor in December 2011, as I do now, I would have worked for him and let him do it. We need change and we are running out of time.
With respect to the past, I worked for the so-called motor-voter law, for health care affordability and for clean water, air and soil, among other issues. However, my family and careers did not leave much free time in the past. I have always had the passion for good government and a just, fair society. Now I have more time for that.
Our first Lightning Round deals with technology, so quickly now:
• iPhone or Android? Huh? I just got a flip phone!
• Mac or PC? PC.
• The better genius: Steve Jobs or Bill Gates? I need a third choice. I am mad at both of them. Jobs for sending jobs overseas; Gates for threatening public education and competitors.
The 3rd District has been realigned due to redistricting and now cuts a wide swath of Eastern Tennessee from Chattanooga to Oak Ridge. That’s quite a territory to represent, but the district has been historically centered in Chattanooga. Do you see any differences in voters from, say, Athens, and smaller areas than larger cities such as Chattanooga?