Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Response from Winston Apple, Lieutenant Governor Candidate

1. What do you view as the key role, and/or attributes needed for this position? What experience/attributes do you have that qualify you for this position? 

One of my fellow Democrats once described me as “too idealistic, too optimistic, and not a real politician.” I plead guilty on all three counts.

With each passing year, as critical problems go unaddressed, the need for bold, visionary leadership increases. I am well-read, well-educated, articulate, and passionate about making life better for everyone instead of serving corporate interests.

Our state motto translates as “The welfare of the people shall be the supreme law.” That may be idealistic to some. It is a reality worth striving for in my opinion.

I have been a life-long student of history, government, and economics. I taught those subjects for 21 years. I believe that I know what is wrong with our government and our economy and I know how to fix it.

2. Why do you think you are the best person for this position? What differentiates you from your opponent(s)?

We are facing extremely serious problems: the lack of jobs that pay a living wage; the climate crisis; crumbling and outdated infrastructure; a broken health care system; a dysfunctional political system; schools that do a very poor job of nurturing the love of learning and preparing students for their role as citizens in a democracy.

Politics-as-usual has done a good job of protecting the status quo. If we want to effectively address the problems we face as a state and as a nation, we need bold and inspired leaders to pass legislation that leads to much needed progress on all of these critical issues.

The other candidates vying for the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor are experienced politicians who will do a good job within the framework of politics-as-usual. At the risk of appearing immodest, I believe that I have pragmatic proposals that will solve the problems enumerated above.

The Republican Party has adopted a regressive and negative platform that will keep up the downward pressure on the middle class and on wages for workers, continue to deny benefits to hundreds of thousands of Missourians who are eligible for Medicaid but are being denied benefits; and continue to offer tax relief to the wealthy by shifting the tax burden downward.

3. What do you feel are the most pressing issues currently facing this office and what plans do you have to address these issues? (please be specific)

I believe that we need to revisit President Franklin Roosevelt’s Economic Bill of Rights. FDR stated that every worker has a right to a job that pays a living wage, which included health care and educational opportunities. 

The need to move to clean, renewable energy as rapidly as possible in response to the climate crisis and the need to repair and modernize our crumbling infrastructure will make the work done socially useful and beneficial. 

While this can be done most efficiently at the federal level, since the federal government will realize the savings from reduced outlays for welfare programs, we don’t have to wait for the federal government to act.

I have drafted legislation for a “Green New Deal” for Missouri that would put thousands of workers to work on socially useful jobs that pay a living wage. This program would be financed by a tax on capital gains. I also support regularly adjusting the excise tax on gasoline to the level needed to finance necessary construction and maintenance costs for our roads and bridges. Which would also be a source of jobs that pay good wages.

We need to address the cost of health care, which continues to spiral out of control despite passage of The Affordable Care Act. I have drafted legislation for a market-oriented public option for health insurance (The Missouri Health Insurance Cooperative) that would lead to noticeable reductions in the cost of health care.

Our public schools need to do a better job of preparing students for the role of citizens in a democracy. I have written a book with over 20 specific reform proposals that, if enacted, would result in Missouri having the best system of public education in the world.

4. Why is the selection of Lieutenant Governor important?

One obvious reason is that the Lieutenant Governor may be called upon at any time to fill in for, or become, the Governor of Missouri. An active Lieutenant Governor can have a great deal of influence within the legislative process as the presiding officer of the senate. 

As Lieutenant Governor I will work to get constructive legislation passed by the General Assembly, if possible, and by the voters (using the initiative process) if the General Assembly fails to pass it.

5. What will you do to advance the profile of your office?

I intend to propose and actively promote legislation and to be an active participant on the boards that I will serve on as Lieutenant Governor.

I intend to speak out loudly and clearly for making Missouri the best state in the country and the United States of America the greatest country in the history of the world.

I am working very hard to strengthen and unify the Democratic Party around a strong platform that will establish a government the lives up to our state motto by passing laws that improve the quality of life for Missourians. I intend to use the office of Lieutenant Governor to continue with that mission.

6. How will you handle the schism between Republicans and Democrats in Jefferson City in order to get things done?

I believe the elected representatives of the Republican Party, in Jefferson City and in Washington, have proven, with few exceptions, that they are not interested in working together to get things done. They have devoted themselves, as a party, to obstructing needed progress on full employment at a living wage, the climate crisis, health care for all, and other needed reforms.

I am working as hard as I can to see that Republicans are voted out of office. If we hope to properly serve the interests of Missouri citizens, we need strong Democratic majorities in Congress and in the General Assembly.

7. Describe how you work with, or will work with, others to address your priorities.

Very few of the ideas I am promoting are my ideas. I have been a lifelong student of history, government, and economics. I have borrowed ideas and taken advice from Franklin Roosevelt, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Aristotle, and many others. 

We all benefit from listening to, and working with, others. I listen to and learn from many of the people I meet. I naturally seek consensus and agreement.

8. What particular strengths would help you defeat the Republican opponent in the November general election?

I have a bold vision for our state and our nation and a passionate commitment to seeing a government by and for the people re-established. A populist uprising is clearly underway at this time. People across the political spectrum have had enough of politics-as-usual. The Republican candidates offer nothing more than protection of the status quo, corporate interests, and ugly attacks on the rights of women, immigrants, and minorities. My commitment to good government, my vision for our state, and my ability to communicate that vision clearly and persuasively make me far and away the best candidate for Lieutenant Governor.

9. Who are your 3 largest campaign contributors? Do you have a policy on accepting lobbyist gifts? Are there donors from whom you will not accept campaign contributions?

All but $300 of the contributions I have received so far have come from individual contributors. Four individuals have given $200 or more. Two of those have given $1000 or more.

When I ran for a seat in the Missouri House in 2014, I took a pledge (through Missourians for Government Reform) that I would not accept gifts from lobbyists. I stand by that pledge.

I have made my priorities and my position on the issues very clear. I will accept contributions from anyone and any organization that wants to help me get elected, with the understanding that my positions and my values will not be altered by any contribution. There are certainly organizations with which I would not want to be associated. I do not anticipate support from those organizations.

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