Hello fellow Kossacks,
Recently I had published, oh behalf of my Knowledge Democrats group on Daily Kos, the number of Democratic candidates running against incumbent GOP Congressmen/Congresswomen or towards open seats (as well as a listing of no Democratic challengers to date in certain Congressional Districts). That diary you can read here:
In one of the states which is getting Democratic challengers to incumbent Republican U.S. Representatives, Oklahoma right now has two Democratic challengers: One in Oklahoma's 4th Congressional District and the other in Oklahoma's 5th Congressional District. Aside from Congressional races, there is a Democratic U.S. Senate candidate, Matt Silverstein, who is running against Senator James Inhofe. There seems to be a bit of activity going on in Oklahoma and this early in the election cycle as of August 2013. Whether that translates into much change or activity within the state is a question to be debated.
Tae Si, the current Democratic candidate running in Oklahoma's 4th Congressional District against Rep. Tom Cole, is the first announced Democrat to be running in the district. As I was doing some research on races going on in Oklahoma, I stumbled upon Tae Si's campaign website and found him to be an interesting Congressional candidate. Si comes from a software engineering and programming background and is at a young age of 26. Not exactly a typical background most Congressional candidates have but then again, unusual candidates can become effective U.S. Representatives.
Take a look at Congressman Rush Holt who has a Ph.D in Physics and is considered one of the most progressive Democrats in Congress. Computer Science and Physics are of course two different areas of science but they are science and therefore, it's possible a Congressman/Congresswoman from a science background can be very knowledge-based and analytical-minded as opposed to how most politicians generally are (not to say career politicians don't believe in knowledge to justify their legislation or policies when in office).
I have taken the liberty to interview Tae Si and to get some insight on his background, where things are looking in his campaign and where he stands on the issues. This should be looked at as a good starting point for you to understand him and his campaign since we're still in August 2013 and we've got a ways to go until the November 2014 midterm elections.
The interview was done by me but on behalf of the Knowledge Democrats group which is based on Daily Kos but expanding its presence beyond the Kos community. Our goal is to provide coverage and gain insight in Congressional Districts across the U.S., particularly those red district-based races that don't normally receive much coverage.
For more insight and information on the Knowledge Democrats group, reach out to me or Augustin on Kosmail or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org
KNOWLEDGE DEMOCRATS: Give a introduction to yourself on your background, where you come from, etc. What has motivated you to run? You may be the first software engineer that has run for Congress.Note that if you have additional questions or concerns (particularly if you're a resident of the OK-04 Congressional District), feel free to address them here in the comments section.
TAE SI: I was born in Seoul, South Korea. My family moved to the U.S. when I was a kid. Most of my childhood was spent in Georgia. I was a gameplay programmer for a few years in Florida. One game I worked on was The Clique: Diss and Make Up for the Nintendo DS. I then moved to Norman, Oklahoma where I worked for the University of Oklahoma as a software engineer developing a research tool that would help mitigate cognitive biases. I decided to run for Congress because the future the country is heading towards is awful. Another recession is coming and nothing will change if the same people are in charge. I’m 26 years old, but I can solve problems and get things done.
KNOWLEDGE DEMOCRATS: Oklahoma is being known as one of the reddest states in the United States and has not exactly been friendly to the Democratic Party for a long time. What is your view of residents in your district and even the state? How have they reacted to your campaign?
TAE SI: There are a few people that don’t even give me a chance to speak once they find out I’m a democrat. However, most people who listen do like what I have to say. It’s not a matter of blue or red. Once people hear my message, people tend to agree. The problem is how I can spread my message across the 4th congressional district.
KNOWLEDGE DEMOCRATS: What are some issues facing the OK-04 Congressional District, particularly ones that are more local-based issues? Do you believe they are being addressed or is there a need for better outreach?
TAE SI: Issues facing OK-04 are similar to the ones facing the nation. More local issues include funding for storm shelters in schools due to the tornado, increase in teachers’ salaries as they had no pay increase in years, and the governor turning down the Medicaid expansion. People are doing their best to address the issues, but I see no signs of a resolution anytime soon.
KNOWLEDGE DEMOCRATS: On education, is the U.S. government (whether local, state, federal) doing enough to improve education and if not, what do you believe can be done?
TAE SI: The government, on all levels, is doing almost nothing to improve education. Many of the people in charge are looking out for their own interest. I recently graduated out of the educational system and know firsthand what the problems are. There was an article in the December 2012 issue of The Elementary School Journal about the redundancy in mathematics. The article points out that there is about 60% of instructional redundancy at each grade on content taught in previous grades in elementary school. Middle school is even more redundant. That’s just mathematics. I was assign to read and do a report on the same book for the 4th, 5th, and 6th grade. It’s no wonder most adults read at the 8th grade level and why many dropouts say the curriculum is not challenging or relevant.
By consolidating the curriculum, we can get rid of redundancies and start offering college credit by the 8th grade. I will also push for a school voucher system endorsed by both Senator Elizabeth Warren and free market economists Milton Friedman, to help families escape failing schools.
KNOWLEDGE DEMOCRATS: What's your feeling about the economy? Can more be done to improve it?
TAE SI: I know for a fact the economy is going to turn for the worst. We have 1 or 2 recessions every decade. There were laws in place that lessen the pain of the recessions of the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s. Thanks to the deregulations, the recent recession became a lot more painful. History says another recession is coming, and it just might turn into a depression as nothing has been done to fix the problems. The Dodd-Frank Act is a joke. We need to reinstate Glass-Steagall. We need to stop putting the taxpayer in debt to big banks. We need to replace the corrupt lawmakers that are funded by Wall Street. Lots of things must be done.
KNOWLEDGE DEMOCRATS: Income equality. Do you believe this is an issue that needs to be addressed?
TAE SI: There is income disparity based on gender and race. However, the biggest gap is between the middle class and the rich. My top priority is to restore the middle class. The middle class is losing wealth. According to the Global Wealth Data Book, the median wealth for an adult is $39,000. The median wealth for an adult in Spain, a country with higher unemployment, is $53,000. Australia’s median wealth is $194,000. The U.S. middle class is regressing. I will reverse this course.
KNOWLEDGE DEMOCRATS: How are the Newton massacre, Aurora Colorado massacre and other related incidents affecting OK-04 residents? Should Oklahoma have more gun control (background checks and such) or can the issue be addressed on matters besides gun control?
TAE SI: Guns are very popular in Oklahoma. The majority of the residents are fighting against gun control. The 2nd amendment does give people the right to bear arms. However, the first part of the 2nd amendment doesn’t say unregulated. It says “well regulated.” Background checks won’t stop all the people that will misuse guns, but it will stop some and hinder others. Just because we can’t completely stop gun violence, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try.
KNOWLEDGE DEMOCRATS: Do you believe Citizens United should be overturned? Are money and special interests having too much of an influence in politics?
TAE SI: I believe Citizens United should be overturned. Corporations do not have 1st amendment rights as they are not people. They cannot go to jail nor have human traits. Money and special interests have great influence in politics. Political corruption didn’t start with Citizens United, but it did add to the problems.
KNOWLEDGE DEMOCRATS: Do you believe safety net programs like Social Security and Medicare need to be cut to address the U.S. deficit and debt (i.e. chained CPI) or are there other ways to address the deficit and debt? Should raising the retirement age factor in as well?
TAE SI: There are ways to eliminate the deficit and reduce the debt without cheating the taxpayer out of what they are owed. Money got taken from Social Security and Medicare to fund wars and other destructive activities. To say there is no money so the people have to cut back is a scam. We need to cut the destructive activities and completely revise the tax code.
We can cut $400 billion from the Defense Budget, or what I like to call the War Budget, to help balance the deficit. By cutting the War Budget, we no longer have to pay for the defense of other countries. This increases our defense as we bring our soldiers home and leave the other countries that might attack us weaker. We will still be number one in defense spending.
Another way to balance the deficit and reduce the debt is to stop giving taxpayer money to multibillion dollar corporations. This isn’t raising taxes. Facebook made a billion dollars in profit last year but paid no federal or state income taxes. Instead it got $429 million from the government and will get millions more next year. That’s just one company out of hundreds of corporations that pay no taxes and gets billions of dollars from the taxpayer.
KNOWLEDGE DEMOCRATS: On voting rights, how is that issue affecting people in the OK-04? What was your feeling when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the critical portion of the Voting Rights Act?
TAE SI: I felt a little uncomfortable when U.S. Supreme Court did what it did. However, I don’t see people in OK-04 being affected by the decision. I have been registering people to vote. Many are apathetic towards politics. The people’s attitude is not surprising given the low voter turnout rate. A strong candidate is needed to inspire people to take action.
KNOWLEDGE DEMOCRATS: If elected to Congress, do you believe your role should be more on checks & balances in general or to make decisions only because they are politically feasible?
TAE SI: If elected to Congress, my role is to stop the madness. All branches of the government think the same way and that is to give the people’s wealth to the super rich and apply laws only to certain segments of the population. Things are done because they are politically feasible. The only checks & balances that exist are to make sure the people don’t get any economic or social leverage. The government is a well oiled machine for Wall Street and a bunch of red tape for everybody else. The reverse must be true. Red tape for Wall Street and a government that works for the people must be put back in place.
KNOWLEDGE DEMOCRATS: On matters regarding the NSA, do you believe the agency has been more transparent or less?
TAE SI: The NSA has been less transparent. The government going after Edward Snowden is evident the NSA is not going to change. Congress passed the Patriot Act to spy on citizens. The government as a whole is corrupt and secretive.
KNOWLEDGE DEMOCRATS: What's your stance on the issue of abortion? Should the government step in or step away from this matter?
TAE SI: Everyone has their own beliefs when life starts. I am pro-choice. Abortion is a privacy issue. The government has no right to invade the privacy of the people.
KNOWLEDGE DEMOCRATS: How do you see the immigration issue being addressed?
TAE SI: Every generation always had people against immigrants. I’m for a more open border policy. I am for a path to citizenship. The U.S. is the land of immigrants. When the Berlin Wall fell, the East German government had no one to terrorize and fell apart. A peaceful and easy way to end tyranny around the world and at the same time make the country stronger is to invite the huddled masses to our country.
KNOWLEDGE DEMOCRATS: On the issue of climate change and global warming, do you consider it a grave threat that needs to be addressed or a hoax?
TAE SI: Climate change is real. However, poverty kills a lot more people ever year than the estimated damage of global warming will do. Climate change will need to get addressed, but my top priority is to restore the middle class.
KNOWLEDGE DEMOCRATS: On healthcare, what do you think about the Affordable Healthcare Act? Should there be a push for a universal healthcare system?
TAE SI: The Affordable Healthcare Act is a step in the right direction. If even Rush Limbaugh loves the universal healthcare in Costa Rica, then I see no reason why we shouldn’t move toward universal coverage.
KNOWLEDGE DEMOCRATS: Do you see yourself a blue dog democrat or more of a liberal/progressive fighter who has no intent on saying one thing as a candidate and doing another in Congress?
TAE SI: I’m somewhere between moderate and liberal. I am going to do what I promised as a candidate. I have no proof I won’t go back on my word once I’m in congress. I will let the voters decide if I should represent them.
KNOWLEDGE DEMOCRATS: Do you believe there's been efficient enough justice on the crimes in Wall Street pertaining to the Great Recession (i.e. subprime mortgage crisis) or does there need to be more oversight?
TAE SI: There has been no justice. In fact, the American people are in debt to Wall Street because of the bail out. Taxpayers owing money to Wall Street is insane. The banks bought government bonds that gave a higher rate of return than the interest on the bailout. During the financial crisis, the Federal Reserve gave the banks $16 trillion. There is a bigger problem than the national debt if trillions of dollars can be given away like that. When I get to congress, justice will be served.
KNOWLEDGE DEMOCRATS: On energy-related projects like the Keystone XL Pipeline and off-shore drilling, do they do any good for the U.S. or economy?
TAE SI: Energy-related projects are good for the U.S. and the economy. That said, projects like the Keystone XL Pipeline do more harm than good. The Keystone XL Pipeline is filled with corruption. The government helping rich oil barons kick people out of their homes is not what the U.S. is about.