AR-04: 5 Questions With Green Party Candidate Josh Drake

30 Jul

1. You certainly come into this congressional race as the political outsider — was there a defining moment or a signature issue that made you jump into this race?

“Political outsider,” perhaps, but what America needs is more capable political outsiders in Congress.

This is my second run as the Green Party nominee vs. Mike Ross. I’ve always been interested in politics and have found a great fit with the Green Party. The two-party system makes it very expensive and difficult to run for political office as anything other than a Democrat or Republican. My primary objective is to make the people of South Arkansas aware that there is a choice other than the two parties that have merged into one corporate party. I believe strongly in the ten key values of the Green Party and want the people of Arkansas to know there is a political party that is more interested in serving the people than the corporations.

As for defining moments, from the beginning of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan I have been a very strong opponent of the wars. The war in Iraq is based upon lies and deception. We never should have started it, and should have gotten out when we realized our mistakes. As for Afghanistan, there were better ways to address the terrorist problem than getting ourselves into another Vietnam. The Soviet Union could not defeat Afghanistan and they are neighbors. It is crazy for any of our military or political leaders to think we will ever be able to achieve anything near “victory” in Afghanistan. The wars have seriously hurt our standing in the world community since we lack legitimate reasons for being in either of the conflicts. As a citizen of Arkansas, there is very little I can do to speak out about the wars, but running for Congress became an option 3 years ago when the Green Party was looking for candidates. I felt it was the very least I could do to stand up for what I believe in.

I feel that war is almost never the answer and these wars are destroying our nation. Most people don’t consider the human costs of war and how that affects our whole society. I grew up in a home that was forever changed by the Vietnam War. My father served 4 tours in Vietnam and was never the same afterward. The dead soldiers are easy to count. What is difficult to properly consider are the American families that are destroyed by such conflicts. I worked as an attorney for a non-profit legal services organization during the first Gulf War. I saw woman after woman tell me stories of being abused by their military husbands who were never the same after coming back from combat in the gulf. Not only were the soldiers changed forever, their families were often destroyed – leaving the rest of society to pick up the pieces. Veterans have some benefits from the government that their destroyed families do not receive.  War does horrible things to people and should be avoided at all costs. The current suicide rate among our soldiers should be an alarm bell that causes all Americans to re-examine the costs of these wars. For every soldier that takes their own life there are likely a many more that are having a very tough time with the stresses of war. For what these wars have cost, this nation could have provided high quality healthcare to every one of our citizens – that should be our national priority, taking care of our people, not blowing up mountains in Afghanistan. If my small voice can in any way help to raise awareness and get our troops home faster, then my campaign will be well worth the effort.

Our Nation should be the leading Peacemaker in the world and not a self-appointed peacekeeper.

2. It’s probably fair to say that most voters who have voted/would consider voting for a Green Party candidate are generally dissatisfied Democrats — is this a fair characterization of your political background? In your opinion, what has caused the disappointment shared by so many AR-04 Democrats with incumbent Rep. Mike Ross? What do you have to say to voters who think you’ll just take votes away from Ross, which will only aid in electing a far more conservative candidate than even Ross has become?

Isn’t it time to stop voting for the lesser of two evils? It’s a horrible situation we have gotten ourselves into.  Each election cycle our choices are so limited we vote for the person we dislike the least – the one we think will do the least harm. We have to stop.  In 2000, Al Gore lost Arkansas by fewer than the votes Nader received. Some blame the Green Party for defeating Al Gore. I blame Al Gore for trying to be all things to all people and not energizing the base of his party. He tried to be Clinton and run to the center and grab as many Republican votes as possible. If he had stood up for core democratic values which are similar to Green values, then Nader would not have received as many votes as he did and many more disinterested or disillusioned voters would have come out to support him. Obama learned some from Al Gore’s defeat and did not try so hard to be all things to all people. Obama was willing to stand for something even if what he stood for was rather vague.

Mike Ross has turned his back on Democrats in this state. Last election I received over 30,000 votes but many came from Republicans that had no candidate. This election there  are two Republicans on the ballot and Mike Ross is smart enough to know if he is slightly the more centrist Republican on the ballot he is guaranteed victory in our current lesser of two evils system. If Ross had to worry about re-election due to progressive challengers then you can bet he would not have become so Republican himself. His healthcare reform antics solidified  his corporate support from the medical and pharmaceutical industries which guarantees him a war chest to fight off any challengers.

Americans and Arkansans MUST break the cycle and start demanding more from their candidates. Proud Democrats should vote for me and make it clear that they refuse to support any Democrat who is ashamed to publicize his party affiliation, who refuses to vote as a Democrat and who turns his back on the party and the people of the state of Arkansas. The only way for Arkansas Democrats to take back the Party is to refuse to support candidates like Mike Ross and D.C. Morrison. Blindly supporting any Democratic candidate will cause more people like D.C. Morrison to run as a Democrat. It rewards those politicians who cater to the far right instead of the progressives of the party. Many of my Democrat friends have told me how nice it is that I am running so they can vote for a real Democrat instead of one of the Republicans are running. Of course, as a Green, I say give up on the Democratic Party – that the party has been corrupted by corporate special interests and the thing to do is support true progressive Green Party candidates.

Look at Mike Ross’s campaign literature, campaign signs, web pages, etc. – it’s almost impossible to find where he mentions he is a Democrat and if you do dig deep and find the word “Democrat” it will surely include “Blue Dog” along with it. He is proud of being the leader of the Blue Dog Democrats, but they have done nothing in Congress, so it’s just a way to have an excuse to vote against progressive legislation while at the same time let Republicans know he is more like them than all these other Democrats. Last election cycle when Barack Obama was a candidate in whom so many Americans and especially Democrats could be proud, Ross made not one mention of Obama in any of his campaign materials or his websites. I was his only opponent and he was cruising to reelection, but was still unwilling to support Obama. It’s no wonder Obama was so handily defeated in south Arkansas – Ross was completely unwilling to support him. If something strange happens and Mike Ross is defeated by the votes that my campaign draws, then it is his fault for not standing up for the people of the state of Arkansas and not standing up for his party.  If he wants to be a Republican then he should have run as one instead of just voting and acting like one.

I have said I will forever be in Mike Ross’s debt for defeating Jay Dickey, but the past few years he has become more and more caught up in Washington politics and keeping his big donors happy than he has helping the people of south Arkansas.

3. Ideologies aside, what personal and professional experiences would you bring to this office that set you apart from your opponents, Rep. Ross and Beth Anne Rankin?

My undergraduate Degree is in International Relations and Political Science. It is essential that we consider global issues in all our decisions. Sometimes it is too easy to narrowly focus on the tree and not see the forest. The ten key values of the Green Party are my values and I will work hard with those principles as my guiding force. An important value of the Green Party is considering how our actions now affect future generations. Having a law degree allows me to consider the legal implications of legislation as well as the practical ones.

Mike Ross is more about his political future and gaining support from the NRA, big business, coal industry, pharmaceutical industry, and others that will help him be Governor or Senator. I know little about Ms. Rankin, other than she is a motivational speaker and according to her web site she has a very simplistic view of tax policy and offers little, if any solutions or ways out of our current problems. She says spend whatever it takes to scare the world into not acting on the hate they have for us, continue to suck the world dry of its natural resources to fuel our unlimited consumption, and to favor healthcare reform that rewards insurance companies. Seems to be the standard state Republican cookie cutter candidate who brings nothing new to the table, much like some of the candidates you have profiled on your blog in recent weeks.

I have worked with people of this district for many years. For 8 years I worked for a non-profit law firm serving low income people in 8 counties of the 4th District. I was made keenly aware of the challenges facing poor people in the district. Arkansas is the only state in the nation where it is still a crime to not pay rent on time. I have seen family after family forced into bankruptcy due medical bills. People cannot afford medical insurance and cannot afford medical care.  I see how our current system puts massive pressures on families and causes divorce.

My job as an attorney has made me keenly aware of the day to day problems and issues affecting the lives of the people of this state.  I have practiced law in many of the counties of the district and have traveled around the area. I’m a problem-solver and it is usually a part of my job to negotiate a settlement of difficult and emotional issues between people who are not getting along.  Sounds like Congress to me.

4. Who do you consider to be your political heroes?

Paul Wellstone (who was a political science professor when elected to the Senate). I’ll never forget watching C-SPAN during a Wellstone filibuster over the cutting of home energy assistance funds by the  Republican Congress with the consent of the Democrats. Wellstone and Carol Moseley Braun were the only two Senators willing to buck the party and stand up for what was right. My heroes are people who take the unpopular stands to fight for what was right. Martin Luther King, Jr. is another one of my political heroes. At a time when so many were saying violence was justified and necessary he was willing to stand proud and say violence is never the answer.

5. You’re a self-described liberal who is also unafraid to embrace his religious values as well, which isn’t always easy to find. Why do you think so many on the Left allow the Right to dictate the discussion when it comes to morality and our politics?

I believe strongly in freedom of religion and the separation of Church and State. All people of the world must do a better job respecting the beliefs of others including the right to not believe in God. That being said, I’m ashamed of Democrats who have allowed the far Right to hijack Christianity. JESUS WAS THE ULTIMATE SOCIALIST! To love Christ and embrace Christianity is to love your neighbor as yourself. I believe Christ commanded us to be progressives, to be liberals, to fight for those of our society without a voice and without the power to fight. To care about everyone including future generations. To consider others when we make decisions. To share our God given gifts with the world. Most of the issues so-called Christian conservatives care so deeply about have very little to do with Christianity.

I want to see more Christians stand up for the equal treatment of all people! Discrimination against homosexuals is not Christian and religious justifications for discrimination and condemnation are little different from the excuses used a generation ago to justify slavery and discriminatory laws. If we, as a society, value the family and marriage then we should as a society embrace the homosexual community by encouraging family values such as marriage and the raising of children. The results of all legitimate social science research are clear that gay couples are no better or worse at raising children than traditional families. Yet state after state, including Arkansas, have passed discriminatory laws prohibiting gay couples from adopting or being foster parents. I feel strongly such laws violate the most fundamental part of our constitution which ensures equal protection for all people. As a Christian, I feel the need to fight discrimination of all kinds. We are all equal in God’s eyes and endowed by our creator with “certain inalienable rights that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

Democrats often try so hard to not be associated with religious zealots that they are ashamed to discuss moral issues or religion in general. Democrats have allowed right-wing Christian conservatives to frame the debate and ignore all the Christ-like values of the progressive movement. It’s time for liberals and progressives to take back religion and stand proud. It is certainly possible to be proud of what you believe without the need to condemn others for having different beliefs. Christians must never forget this fact.


2 Responses to “AR-04: 5 Questions With Green Party Candidate Josh Drake”


  1. Off to the Weekend Miscellany - July 30, 2010

    […] Hog Report talks to U.S. House, Dist. 4 Green Party candidate Josh […]


  2. AR-04: 5 Questions With Green Party Candidate Josh Drake | Blue … | Welcome2Green - August 1, 2010

    […] rest is here: AR-04: 5 Questions With Green Party Candidate Josh Drake | Blue … This entry was posted in Green Politics and tagged always-been, Auto Green, great-fit, Green […]


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