AR-04: Drake’s Take

15 Oct

As part of AETN’s Debate Week, AR-04 candidates took to the stage on Wednesday and engaged in a lively discussion on issues including healthcare reform, jobs and the economy, tax cuts,  privatizing Social Security, foreign policy, and student loans. Congressman Mike Ross, who, based on his website and tv ads, has been trying his best to scrub the “D” listed by his name away, deflected criticism from both the political right and left for much of the night, as the GOP’s Beth Anne Rankin and Green Party nominee Joshua Drake continually questioned whether his voting record truly represents the best interests of the people in his district.

In this race, BHR had no choice but to support the candidacy of the one person willing to stand up for progress in this race — Josh Drake — and proudly stand by that endorsement. We’re now happy to pass the mic and give his campaign a forum to further react to what we saw Wednesday, and to continue explaining the differences between a progressive, a Tea Party favorite, and a perfect example of a Democrat-In-Name-Only.

On Wednesday night I participated in the first debate of my life.  At 41 years old I am starting a little late, but had a good time exchanging ideas.   I have a few impressions of the debate I want to share with anyone willing to read.  Please take the time to listen to the whole debate yourself and draw your own conclusions. 

Months ago, an attorney friend of mine offered to donate money to my campaign if I did something to make Ross and Rankin acknowledge that I exist.  I knew he owed me that donation when Ross tried to play the victim in his opening statement.  It is Ross who has victimized the people of the fourth district for the past few years.

The most amazingly honest moment of the debate came when Ross admitted that he was responsible for holding up healthcare reform in order to kill the public option which he said would have led to universal healthcare like I was advocating. That’s a moment my grandchildren can be proud of when I called out our Congressman for being the major opponent of what will eventually become a way of life in America like it already is in much of the world. Healthcare for all will be recognized as a human right some day. I just hope it happens in my lifetime.

After the debate I received a nice email from a stranger who watched the debate and was moved to write me.  She wrote:  “Thank you for such an inspiring debate tonight! I just watched it and certainly appreciated someone speaking truthfully and honestly rather than simply regurgitating rhetoric.

I’m a young Australian living in Arkansas and I’m finding it particularly hard to find people who share the same views as I do. I totally agree that everyone should employ a more benevolent attitude and that avarice and selfishness should take a backseat in today’s politics. The healthcare debate in this country just bewilders me – I can’t understand why providing people with affordable healthcare is seen as detrimental.”

It’s sad that healthcare for all citizens is a given by so many advanced nations of the world except ours.

My proudest compliments came from the workers at the college and AETN who very privately complimented my performance and said I was the only person on the stage who said things to which they could relate.

This was the first time I have encountered Beth Ann Rankin and the first time most of my friends have ever heard of her also. Everyone I know is amazed at how much she looked and acted like Sarah Palin.  When you Google older pictures of Ms. Rankin, you’ll notice until recently she looked nothing like Palin.  It’s sad that anyone can think you can be successful by imitating Sarah Palin. Thankfully the people of South Arkansas are wise enough to see through her. She does have an amazing ability to talk without saying much of substance. 

I was pleasantly surprised that Ross was off his game in the debate. I don’t think he expected much of a fight out of me but he was lucky to be able to portray himself as the moderate in the middle. I notice that most of the media from the event used Ross’ talking points instead of focusing on the fact the he and Rankin both called for more tax cuts for the rich, both opposed healthcare reform, etc. Ross disputed some of the distortions Ms. Rankin said about him but NEVER DENIED anything I said about him. Standing beside him he seemed unhappy to be there and I was generally unimpressed with his answers. He has some strong points but ended up sounding a lot like a politician most of the time.

I was most disappointed that Ross, Rankin, the journalists asking questions, and the media at the press conference after the event never addressed some of my assertions against them in my opening comments. Of course, Ross and Rankin both made it clear I was correct about their support for tax breaks for the rich and opposing to healthcare reform. No one addressed how we are bankrupting our nation through unlimited military spending. No one addressed how morally wrong the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are. I was able to get in a few words about these wars we can’t win but we are in the 9th year of the wars with no end in sight. For the cost of the wars during the last 9 years we could have provided healthcare for every man, woman and child in this nation. Seems that would have done more for our long term success and our economy that bombing desert nations into oblivion thus creating a new generation of terrorists who now have a damn good reason to hate America and to give their life in retaliation against us.

One of the most fundamental principles of our Constitution (Ms. Rankin says she has a “Back to the Constitution” campaign) is the right to equal protection under the laws. Equal Protection says the Government CANNOT discriminate for arbitrary reasons. We can’t make laws that only apply to women or only apply to men from Europe, etc. It’s fundamental to our society. It’s why our public school education system cannot be segregated. Equal Protection has been the constitutional principle that has been the backbone of many of our civil rights laws. Rankin and Ross want to TRASH equal protection by supporting Constitutional amendment to discriminate against homosexual men and women. They know that equal protection demands that the government stop arbitrary discrimination by providing government benefits to heterosexuals that are not provided to everyone. It’s why a federal judge recently ruled the military “Don’t ask, Don’t tell” policy was unconstitutional. Ross and Rankin want to write discrimination into our constitution by passing an amendment that prohibits states from allowing certain people to get married.

Ross and Rankin both support expanded fossil fuel drilling in our national parks and offshore. Ross wants to use the royalties to research renewable energy. That’s a good idea since when we burn up all the fossil fuels and the earth’s climate is destroyed we are really going to need some alternative energy sources. I want to reduce fossil fuel collection offshore and on federal lands and make renewable energy a national priority. 

No one asked Ross and Rankin how they can  go on and on about how we need to reduce our national debt and balance the budget but also support tax cuts that make doing so impossible.  I would reduce the debt and balance the budget by streamlining the military in a big way, and increasing taxes on those making the most profits.  They want to continue to give blank checks to the military and cut taxes on the millionaires. Borrow and spend. Totally irresponsible. It’s amazing how Ross can still call himself a Democrat.

According to opensecrets.org, Ross has ten times more campaign cash than Rankin, so you can expect to hear plenty from him in the next month in newspapers, television and in the mail. Notice how Republican he is trying to be. Notice how NONE of his ads or literature mention the fact he is a Democrat. I expect that if the Republicans have sweeping success in AR and around the nation he will go ahead and change parties. The way he often votes no one would notice a difference. 

To those who say they might vote for me but don’t want Rankin to win, I say the future of our democracy depends on people voting for the candidate they most identify with rather than the lesser of two evils. Even if Rankin is elected, two years from now it will be much easier to defeat her with a progressive Democrat or Green than it would be to defeat Ross. Take it from someone who started voting Green a number of years ago, there is nothing like the feeling of voting for someone in whom you believe (can I get an “Amen!” from a Bill Halter supporter?).

I appreciate the guys at the Blue Hog Report for giving me another opportunity to tell you where I stand. I hope everyone will listen to the debate and decide for yourself who should be the next Congressman from the 4th District of Arkansas. Thank you.

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