Wikinews Interviews Five 2020 Presidential Candidates

This past month, for Wikinews, I conducted interviews with five 2020 third party presidential candidates:

  1. Constitution Party presidential nominee Don Blankenship (link)
  2. Prohibition Party presidential nominee Phil Collins (link)
  3. Unity Party of America presidential nominee Bill Hammons (link)
  4. Libertarian Party presidential nominee Jo Jorgensen (link)
  5. American Solidarity Party presidential nominee Brian Carroll (link)

 

Similar questions were asked to each candidate, enabling the following comparison of answers:

Which past U.S. president(s) do you most admire and why?

Blankenship: George Washington. Put his life where his mouth was.

Collins: I admire [Abraham] Lincoln because he was a good leader in the Civil War. He wanted to ensure that the union was preserved, and he achieved that goal. He chose cabinet members and generals who would serve their country very well, and he wasn’t disappointed. I admire [Ronald] Reagan because he persuaded Congress (which was mainly Democrats) to cut tax rates. While he was president, the unemployment rate, inflation rate, and interest rates decreased.

Hammons: George Washington. Our first President set so many precedents, most important among them not making the Presidency any more powerful than it absolutely needs to be.

Jorgensen: Thomas Jefferson. Hey, he wrote the Declaration of Independence. I would, however, change the phrase, “that all men are created equal,” to “that all people are created equal”!

Carroll: My two childhood heroes were Ben Franklin and Thomas Jefferson, who were interested in almost everything, and followed every interest. I patterned my own educational goals in that direction. As I got older, I could see the underside of Jefferson, and every human being has two sides. I taught history for 40 years to junior high and high school students, and spent extra time on [George] Washington, Jefferson, [Andrew] Jackson and [James K.] Polk (as negatives), [Abraham] Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt as positive in domestic affairs and negative in foreign affairs, [Woodrow] Wilson as negative. I have recently gained an appreciation for [Ulysses S.] Grant. He aggressively took on the KKK [(Ku Klux Klan)], and crushed them for the duration of his era.

How have your past experiences prepared you for the job of President?

Blankenship: I have dealt with the government and know its flaws. I have been poor. Rich. In federal prison. Defamed. And I have beat the evil of the establishment over and over. I know what we need to do if we are [to] save America from the politicians.

Collins: I was in the navy for 21 years, including eight years in marine units and six months near Baghdad. If I were the commander-in-chief, that might help me command the military. I was a township trustee. Since I have the government experience, I learned the importance of reading resolutions, especially budgets, before I voted on them.

Hammons: I am the Founder and Chairman of the 42-State Unity Party of America, as well as a former Manager at Newsweek Magazine (one of the joys of that job was reading both Newsweek and Newsweek International cover-to-cover on a weekly basis, and that reading gave me a firm foundation in knowledge and understanding of national and international affairs). I am also the owner of Bill’s List, a website which has received as many as 17,000 visitors on a single day, and knowledge of how to reach the most Americans possible without relying on the all-too-fickle media is a crucial skill.

Jorgensen: The most important preparation for the job of president is to learn that businesses and families and people everywhere are better off when they are free to run their own lives without government interference. My grandmother, who immigrated from Denmark, instilled in me a love of freedom when I was a child. Ever since, life has taught me, over and over, that government must be strictly bound to protecting our life, liberty and property – and nothing more.

Carroll: A teacher explains things all day long, just like a politician. My other experiences include specific issues where my role was largely raising community awareness. That’s a political role.

How would you describe your style of leadership? How does it compare to the leadership styles of President Donald Trump and former President Barack Obama?

Blankenship: My leadership is based on truth and conviction. I set the example by standing for what is right when what is right is not popular.  [Neither] Trump nor Obama are leaders. They are misleaders.

Collins: If I were president, I’d have a more constitutional leadership, by reading the Constitution, whenever I decide if I should sign or veto a bill. Presidents Trump and Obama signed budgets that increased spending, increased the deficit, and increased the debt. I wouldn’t do that.

Hammons: I am a Centrist, with the attitude that all sides need to be listened to, even if I disagree with them. It’s important to understand where someone else is coming from before you work to meet their needs and persuade them to work with you.

Jorgensen: My leadership style is rooted in the principle, “first, do no harm.” I will assemble a cabinet and staff that, with me, will scrutinize any proposal for use of government force for any purpose. That’s the polar opposite of both President Trump, former President Obama, and his former Vice President [Joe] Biden.

Carroll: I’m the unTrump. I’m secure enough in myself that I don’t feel threatened by experts. Like Jefferson, I have multiple interests and a softer personality, though I’m more comfortable speaking in public than was Jefferson. I will hire a very organized staff to help keep me focused.

If you were president, how would you have handled the coronavirus pandemic differently than President Trump?

Blankenship: I would have insisted that those with symptoms be quarantined. I would have protected the elderly and allowed the youthful strong to work.

Collins: I’d encourage the governors to help one another better. A few states, with no stay-at-home orders, have low infection rates, compared to a few states that had mask and stay-at-home orders. I would have asked governors of a couple of those healthy states, to have a televised press conference, at the White House, to tell what their states did.

Hammons: Where do I begin. We need to massively ramp up use of the Cold War-era Defense Production Act to produce all the materials we need to fight this Pandemic, a Pandemic which has already killed twice as many Americans as died in Korea and Vietnam combined. Taiwan, a democratic nation of tens of millions directly across the Taiwan Strait from China, has had exactly seven deaths from Covid, and we can do even better. We need to be testing widely and constantly, and can boost our economy by hiring an army of federal Contact Tracers with the ability to call, text, email, and message via Social Media each and every American who has been exposed to the deadly virus. The CDC can work with Facebook and other Social Media companies to aid Contact Tracing outreach and build confidence (e.g., Contact Tracers can be given Social Media accounts with official badges, explanations of the tracing process and why it’s so important, etc.). Hotels currently lying empty can be rented out for quarantining those who have been exposed and who don’t want to expose their families, and local restaurants can be contracted to provide contact-free room service for those quarantined. Further, Federal unemployment insurance benefits can be offered to all Quarantiners to ease the financial impact of having to remain isolated for weeks at a time.

Jorgensen: I would have made sure the bureaucrats at the CDC [(Centers for Disease Control)] and the FDA [(Food and Drug Administration)] did not block access to tests and treatments developed by the free market. Once it became clear that the primary danger is to people with comorbidities, I would have used my bully pulpit to strongly advise that those people use masks, socially distance, and self-quarantine as needed to avoid contagion. I would have ended any emergency economic lockdowns and trusted people to take care of themselves and go back to work and school in a safe manner.

Carroll: I would not have entered office by throwing away the playbook for pandemics that Obama left him. I would have acted earlier to order American industry to produce the equipment we needed.

How has the pandemic affected your campaign and your ability to reach out to voters?

Blankenship: The pandemic greatly limited our opportunity to gain ballot access. It is hard to get petition signatures when you cannot get within six feet of someone.

Collins: In Tennessee, we paid someone to get petition signatures, for us. When a lot of businesses were closed and many summer events were cancelled, it was hard for our workers to find people, who would sign the petitions.

Hammons: Before the Pandemic hit, I was knocking on doors on behalf of other Uniter candidates, and that crucial means of engaging with voters (many of whom still haven’t heard of the Unity Party) is gone until further notice. Since declaring for the Presidency, my own campaign has instead been reaching out to voters with a top-notch text and phone call effort with some modest success.

Jorgensen: It has limited our in-person events to being mostly outside and socially distanced. That has obviously decreased the number of people able to participate in rallies and the ability of volunteers to execute a traditional ground game. On the positive side, it has tied people closer to their cell phones and computers and, we hope, increased our ability to reach people through social media.

Carroll: It has kept me from traveling, and it made it more difficult to collect signatures in states that required that to get on the ballot. It has given me six months at home with my wife, which has been a blessing over what would have been a very hectic six months. I know lots of people who have been stressed by the situations the virus has put them in, but it has been much easier on me.

What would your administration look like? Which specific individuals would you ask to be in your cabinet?

Blankenship: It would look smaller as we would have fewer cabinet positions. The cabinet would be made up of individuals who have not worked in government before but rather individuals from outside DC who have had to reckon with the government.

Collins: I’d nominate people who could work well with members of the Prohibition, Republican, and Democrat Parties. The majority of those people would be people who had political experience. Since Robert Gates was a secretary of defense for a Republican and Democrat, I’d nominate him for secretary of state. Other than that, I haven’t thought of anyone. If I win, I’ll ask for suggestions from other Prohibition Party officers.

Hammons: My model will be [Abraham] Lincoln’s “Team of Rivals” (it just so happens that Lincoln was another Dark Horse candidate who came out of nowhere from the heart of the country, literally and symbolically, to win the Presidency). I’ll bring on the Best and the Brightest, preferably individuals driven less by ideology than by a sincere desire to see a country run smoothly with a minimum of drama. I’ll look for a mix of dedicated Civil Servants with the brass tacks experience of how government works along with turnaround types from backgrounds outside government who know how to get the impossible things done.

Jorgensen: A Jorgensen administration would call on talented, seasoned public policy analysts from institutions like the Cato Institute, Reason Foundation, and others who are committed to the goal of a much smaller government to staff the cabinet and administrative agencies. We would also draw on the libertarians now holding office as Democrats and Republicans and those who show strength in particular areas of government.

Carroll: I’m not going to name individuals that I have never asked. But I would begin by asking my key advisors to submit suggestions, and then I would go to the congressional caucuses that have proven they can work across the aisles, the Climate Solutions Caucus and the Problem Solvers Caucus, and ask for their suggestions. I want a Cabinet that can work with Congress.

As president, how would you work with Congress to avoid gridlock and pass your agenda?

Blankenship: Common sense pressure. No drama allowed. No hyperbole allowed. Facts not fantasy.

Collins: I’d try to learn about each senator and representative so that I could talk to a lot of them and persuade them to agree with me. I’d usually propose bills that obey the Constitution, so I’d tell people that my view is what the founders would have wanted.

Hammons: The election of the first Unity Party President will be an earthquake certain to set off tectonic shifts across the American political landscape. As a Uniter, I’ll use my freedom in the Center to force both sides to compromise or be tossed into the Dust Bin of History.

Jorgensen: My biggest tool will be my veto pen. I will refuse to sign any budget that is not in balance. I will require all Department heads to propose budgets that are smaller than the previous year. Some issues like cannabis decriminalization and criminal law reform already have enough bipartisan support that they will get passed with a presidential nudge. I will immediately pardon all non-violent federal drug war prisoners as well as whistleblowers like Edward Snowden and Julian Assange. As Commander in Chief, I will immediately begin bringing the troops home.

Carroll: I’ve already mentioned my Cabinet strategy. I will but out the word that the action is going to be in bipartisanship, and if people want to be at the table, that’s where they need to be.

What should be done, from the government’s perspective, to combat global climate change?

Blankenship: Nothing.  Our country has much more pressing and certain challenges than climate change.  We need to save America before we engage in preventing a half degree increase in temperature in the next century.

Collins: Some scientists say that global climate change isn’t caused by people and that the change is part of a cycle that has happened for at least 1,000 years. If I’m president and I read that the majority of scientists think that people caused the change, I’d ask a few former EPA heads for their opinions about how we should combat it.

Hammons: We need to take a look at what no less than Bill Gates and scientists from Harvard have been working on recently, and explore sending cooling dust (on a limited and experimental basis) into the atmosphere to lessen temperatures and thus buy the planet time for a long-term reduction in greenhouse gas emissions to have its own impact.

Jorgensen: All federal subsidies to the energy industry, especially fossil fuels, should be eliminated. Cronyist, anti-competitive policies that prevent the full development of nuclear energy should be ended. Zero-emission nuclear power will fare very well on a level playing field, cutting greenhouse gas and protecting our irreplaceable planet.

Carroll: We are at a triage point. We must reduce carbon dependency. I don’t see how we can do that without taking advantage of Thorium nuclear technology. We need to use solar, wind, and thermal where practical, and explore carbon capture, as well.

What are your views on the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan? What would you do as president to help resolve the conflict and how does that comport with your overarching philosophy on foreign affairs?

Blankenship: We need to stop policing the world and allow other countries to manage their own affairs. We need to withdraw our troops from all but a very few foreign countries. Armenia and Azerbaijan should be given the freedom to solve their own issues.

Collins:  I think that those countries should compromise and split the disputed area in half. I don’t see any reason why the U.S. should be involved, so I think our government should be neutral.

Hammons: The United States could go a long way towards regaining the international stature it has lost with its inept Covid response by negotiating a resolution to yet another conflict with its roots in the ineptitude of the Soviet Union (the old Russian Empire in everything but name). The US could offer to impose peacekeepers, and warn both sides they will experience severe sanctions if any peacekeepers are harmed in any way.

Jorgensen: The conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan is their conflict. Not ours. We have no business taking either side. Our foreign policy should resemble one giant Switzerland, armed and neutral.

Carroll: Diplomacy but not military intervention.

Are you concerned about the deplatforming and social media censorship of notable conservatives and libertarians? How would you address this issue as president?

Blankenship: Free speech has to be fully protected unless it endangers others or is clearly defamatory. Social media platforms should be just that. They provide electronic assembly of the people. They enable what the Constitution calls freedom of assembly.
There should be no censoring other than profane and similar talk.

Collins: Yes, I’m concerned about it. If I’m president, I’d encourage more people to use different social media sites, including instagram, twitter, and mewe.

Hammons: I sincerely believe Facebook and other social media companies are doing the best they can to balance freedom of expression with protecting the democracy which has given us that same freedom of expression. We could learn a lot from Germany, a distant mirror of a nation which was rebuilt from scratch by the US and others after World War II: German admirers of Adolph Hitler and Nazism have many of their freedoms restricted, and, partly due to those restrictions, Germany has been a thriving democracy for decades.

Jorgensen: The kind of censorship I worry about is government censorship. That’s what repeal of Section 230 would ultimately lead to. One of the reasons prominent social media platforms have been censoring users is fear of government regulation if they don’t censor on their own. I would foster an environment where censoring platforms’ biggest fear would be users departing to competing platforms that do not censor.

Carroll: Social media is still too young to graduate from high school. We’re learning, and social media is learning, but the teen years are stressful for any person or organization. They need to be dealt with according to patient persistence. We’ll get there.

What can you do, as president, to improve race relations in the United States?

Blankenship: Stop granting “privileges” to one race which impede on the “rights” of another race. Equalize education but by neighborhood not by race. Recognize that there are more poor white people than black people. Accept that the problem is mostly a black issue not a race issue. Use facts, not drama and rhetoric, as the basis for action. End illegal immigration.

Collins: I could ensure that recruiting ads for the federal government (especially for the military and FBI) will show co-workers of a few ethnic groups, showing that many federal workers work, well, with members of different races. I’d send federal agency offices information about federal discrimination rules. The rules should be posted in each federal office, so the employees and the public will know that discrimination will be punished.

Hammons: I can help the Black Lives Matter movement principles get a Bismarckian translation into reality (Bismarck was the one who observed that “Politics is the Art of the Possible”). “Black Lives Matter Too” would be a title that would put a dent in the “All Lives Matter” counterargument. “Defund the Police” should be retitled “Refund the Police” (along with “Refund ICE,” for that matter) and we as a nation can take a sober look at how we can be a more harmonious nation going forward where all sides are respected and heard.

Jorgensen: The two most effective ways to improve race relations are criminal justice reform and ending restrictive, protectionist licensing laws.  Victimless crime laws like drug and vice laws put minorities in prison at a higher rate than non-minorities even though the actual crime rate in both populations is similar. Ending qualified immunity, no-knock raids, federal “gifts” of tanks and other weapons of war to local police departments, civil asset forfeiture and other oppressive police tactics will go a long way in restoring respect between people of color and government. Americans should not feel like enemy combatants in their own neighborhoods.  In the long run, the best way to improve race relations is to provide equal economic opportunity to all. Ending overly restrictive licensing (which prevents people from learning trades, opening businesses, or growing their wealth) would extend American prosperity and opportunity to all, not just those whom the state favors.

Carroll: First, let it be known that we consider it a priority. A document like the recent Contract with Black America has well over a hundred ideas, most of them good. The idea is that it could be accomplished in the first 100 days, which I think is unrealistic, but there needs to be a visible start from day one.

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