Mike Dickinson, challenging House Majority Leader Eric Cantor
By the way, to point out about that with the title of this diary, I have not seen Democratic Candidate Mike Dickinson on TV nor much coverage of him in general as of yet so I have no way of telling if he really has the same persona or ability to pull an Alan Grayson on the floor of the House of Representatives by stating the GOP healthcare plan is "Don't Get Sick." In deciding to challenge House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (and he appears to be the only one in the race at the moment), Dickinson is considerably lesser known than Alan Grayson and seems to have just started his campaign. Pretty sure there are differences between the two.
However, like Grayson, Mike Dickinson is very progressive, serious fire in his belly and judging from the interview we've done with him and from what we know, like Grayson, he's pretty much afraid of nothing and has the ability to stirring up things with the GOP in a way which Grayson has clearly shown in all the years he's been in the limelight.
One thing though in running in Virginia's 7th Congressional District, because Dickinson currently is not a known name in Democratic circles, he did however stir quite a raucous within the conservative, right wing and Tea Party crowds on Twitter very quickly with tweets like the following:
As a result, Dickinson got lambasted very quickly from the conservative wing and has overtime gotten so much attention that it's led him to be interviewed on Sean Hannity's show today at 10 pm (EST), in case any of you are interested.
Very rarely do Democratic Candidates get the GOP and their base in a frenzy like Dickinson has done but he's also running against Eric Cantor who happens to be, by definition, the second most powerful Republican in Congress.
The last time Eric Cantor had a debate with anyone was with 2012 Democratic Challenger Wayne Powell, who of course didn't beat Cantor but received 41.5% of the votes.
However, if you think Cantor was challenged a bit in that debate by Powell, if Mike Dickinson debates Cantor it will likely be more fierce. Mr. Robot himself (Cantor) won't likely be in his comfort zone to say the least since he's not a transparent person himself and he always seems to hide things in everything he says.
Here's an interview we had with Mike Dickinson to touch base:
KNOWLEDGE DEMOCRATS: Was there a moment or big factor that led you to make the decision to run for Congress?
MIKE DICKINSON: I have had a huge issue with Congressman Cantor for many years. I grew up and went to high school in his district. While I was in college at VCU I lived in his district. He has been nothing but an embarrassment to his constituents. Candidates have run against him in the past, but they play the same game as everyone else- kind of loud and stuffy. Some who have ran against him have called him names to his face or to crowds to fire them up. While there are many names I would like to call Congressman Cantor- I feel that there is plenty of outrage as it is, with his actions, his behavior, and the institutions he represents. I have always been a little different. I speak my mind in life, business, and politics. I don't play the typical political game. We need someone who isn't going to hold back and who will go after Congressman Cantor. I looked around and I didn't see anyone who could do it, so I signed up. The people of America need a voice that is not afraid to speak up.
KNOWLEDGE DEMOCRATS: You mention being a restaurant management consultant? How would this role and your background applies to how you'd be a Congressman?
MIKE DICKINSON: I know how to run a business. I know how to make decisions and adapt quickly.
VIRGINIA & VIRGINIA 7TH CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT
KNOWLEDGE DEMOCRATS: What are some of the most important issues facing Virginia's 7th Congressional District from your perspective and from what people in the district have mentioned to you?
MIKE DICKINSON: Being in touch with the constituents. Story after story from the 7th district is that Congressman Cantor is nowhere to be found. He is busy at a press conference with Boehner, or on Fox News, or giving a interview. He has completely forgotten who he represents. For example, we had a earthquake in Louisa County two years ago that damaged the local school. All the national media showed up. Cantor had not been in town for years shows up when the cameras are there, promises FEMA help, then vanishes. He has not been back since. The kids in Louisa are still going to school in trailers.
Congressman Cantor should be embarrassed. His district is riddled with many rural counties and schools where the kids are going to class in trailers or 30 year old buildings. They are using old textbooks. There is no Internet in classrooms. How can you expect a kid to learn when not given the tools for success? Of course, the rich west end of Henrico County, where Cantors kids go to school and where many of his big money donors live- they go to school in palaces.
Congressman Cantor should also be embarrassed that he will not talk to or have reasonable discussion with the voters. Every few election cycles he holds a town hall meeting with cherry picked attendees asking him cherry picked questions designed to make him look good. I think every Congressperson needs to be readily accessible to the voting population.
KNOWLEDGE DEMOCRATS: How would you describe VA-07 the district and residents, based on living in the district and also in your campaign?
MIKE DICKINSON: It is a large district that is heavily gerrymandered for Congressman Cantors advantage. It includes the rich "west end" of Henrico County, numerous rural areas, and small towns such as Louisa, Bumpass, Orange, Culpepper, Ashland, and Mechanicsville. It allows Cantor the advantage of white collar republicans in Henrico and pro-gun, tea party rural republicans. A path to victory is to turn out those who live in the small towns (which vote Democratic) and turn out the African-American vote. It also includes a sliver of the City of Richmond, which is a heavily democratic area with lots of city dwellers.
It is sadly comical that Cantor has two Tea Party challengers, both who feel he is "too liberal". To back this claim up, they show a photo of him shaking hands with President Obama.
KNOWLEDGE DEMOCRATS: In making a distinction between yourself and Rep. Eric Cantor, what would you say are the biggest differences?
MIKE DICKINSON: Everything. I can't say I agree with him on any issue. Congressman Cantor is the best example of everything that is wrong with America and our Democracy today. He cares about no one other than those who write contribution checks to him.
I have zero tolerance on any type of discrimination. It is comical when Cantor preaches "small government" and "personal responsibility" on TV then goes to a "Pro-life" rally and tells the attendees he is working on more bills to restrict women's rights. It is comical when Cantor complains about the budget and demands cuts to food stamps, unemployment insurance, and education funding in order to "do good business and balance the budget" yet then he turns around and gives a blank check for military spending or corporate subsidies. He is a hypocrite.
KNOWLEDGE DEMOCRATS: If you become elected to represent VA-07, what would be issues near and dear to you that you would be fighting for? Do you see yourself serving the U.S. first or party first?
MIKE DICKINSON: Issues near and dear to me:
1) Education opportunity. Education defeats poverty. We need to invest LONG TERM in money for teachers and schools. We write off kids that go to poor schools now. We don't give them the best resources. Yet, kids that go to schools in the wealthier areas get everything. Great example- here in Cantors district- the kids in Lousia go to class in trailers, with no Internet. Louisa is a poorer rural county. The kids in Henrico go to a school that is 5 years old and each student has a laptop. Who is going to be better prepared for college or get a opportunity for college?
We need to treat our teachers like heroes. We need to to give teachers access to the same benefits of the GI Bill, allowing them a taxpayer funded education. We need to give teachers the same benefits and pay as the military so that we can attract the best of the best.
2) Equality/Women's Rights. Simply said if you are not part of the solution you are part of the problem. If you vote yes on or pass bills that discriminate you are racist/homophobe. We need people in government who will stand up and fight everyday for all to have equal rights.
3) Media. I feel strongly we need the FCC to monitor and regulate the media for lies. Fox News is the absolute worst and responsible for 75 percent of the lies that circulate about President Obama today. It is not a free speech question. Opinions are opinions. You can express it. However, if you call yourself news you have a responsibility and obligation to tell the truth. It seems nobody understands that the Affordable Care Act is not government insurance. It's not single payer. You go to a website, you get bids from private companies, and you pick. Some in the news media would have you believe this is raging socialism.
We are chocked full of ignorance in America right now, because the garbage Fox "News" puts out.
4) Workers rights. While equality is important to me, so is a new form of discrimination- classism. Big business will not rest till they break every union, avoid every insurance cost, pay as little as possible, and exploit. My view is that businesses need to readjust the business model and the cut ownership takes. Yes, we are going to make you pay your employees more. Yes, we are going to make you provide insurance. You can either raise your prices and run off customers, or adjust the cut ownership gets. God forbid, the owner of Papa Johns has to forgo one Learjet or mansion. If you are used to making 100k off your business, you need to adjust your business model to make 80k. In America, no one should work 40 hours a week and be homeless or live in a car. If you work 40 hours a week you should have a roof over your families head and food on your plate. Unions are critical. They ensure fair treatment of employees.
KNOWLEDGE DEMOCRATS: Do you believe the U.S. is better off now because of the Affordable Healthcare Act? Do you think there should be additional improvements (i.e. additional legislation) in Congress to improve healthcare?
MIKE DICKINSON: I think the Affordable Care Act is great.
Long term, I have always been a fan of a single payer system. I always have liked it. Why? I feel like insurance is very important for every American to have and something that is a benefit to ALL of society. No one should lose a home or face bankruptcy because they are sick. The ACA is great. It's a start. Let's see how it is in five to ten years.
KNOWLEDGE DEMOCRATS: What's your view on the education? Is there a need to improve it particularly in VA-07?
MIKE DICKINSON: Without a doubt, education is the most important thing to our country now and in the future. Not only is education important, but it is almost as important to see that it gets fairly distributed to members of all economic classes. I am so sick of seeing a disparity in education. You see wealthy areas with palaces for schools and each child with a laptop, and you see poor areas with old buildings or trailers for schools and the Internet is not even accessible. We must raise the salaries of our true American heroes; teachers. Attracting the best and brightest to teach requires a significant financial commitment and it is one we must make. We need to find ways to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to go to college with low interest student loans. I would like to find a way to create low cost or no cost higher education. In the meantime I think that we should at least give student loans from the government at the same interest rate we give loans to big businesses.
KNOWLEDGE DEMOCRATS: What's your view on income inequality? Is this an issue worth addressing?
MIKE DICKINSON: Inequality is out of control. Big business and owners make too much money. They are greedy and the exploitation of the American worker must stop. The Affordable Care Act and President Obama are not the reason Americans are losing their jobs; it is because too many businesses have owners that are greedy and would rather give up a worker then give up money. Big business owners in America were spoiled under President Bush. He gave them everything and enabled a culture of exploitation. We must raise the minimum wage. We must enforce and create hefty penalties for businesses that move outside the country to try to skirt the labor laws. We even need to tackle our trade agreements. It says much about our country when Hobby Lobby accuses President Obama of being "un-american" yet they import 98 percent of their product from China, all to make a cheap buck. Hobby Lobby, Wal-Mart, they are great examples of what is wrong with America because they exploit workers and get tax breaks.
KNOWLEDGE DEMOCRATS: Have problems on Wall Street and big banks affected VA-07? Do you think the Glass-Steagall Act should be reinstated or should there be a similar (and perhaps more robust effort) to reform Wall Street and the banking industry?
MIKE DICKINSON: The VA-07 is a largely rural district, with much country, a few neighborhoods, and some small towns. Many small businesses and families have had problems getting banks to loan them money, and the loans that have been offered have very high interest rates. We do need to reform Wall Street and banks from predatory practices.
KNOWLEDGE DEMOCRATS: Do you think it's more important to grow the economy or reduce the debt? Or do both need to be deal with?
MIKE DICKINSON: The old saying in business is you have to spend money to make money. I am for running the country as a business. However, when decisions must be made I am for doing the right thing. All too often- the republicans sell out the people in favor of the military or big business. It makes me very mad when Cantor and his crew go after education programs like they are the problem. God forbid we spend a million on pre-k education, but we have to ram that 300 million dollar military bill through. Ask yourself why these decisions are made. Ask yourself who benefits. Republicans use fear to scare the citizens; we must fear Iran, we must fear North Korea, and we must fear the Muslims. Conservative networks and networks echo this. Who benefits from keeping America scared? Big business. Military defense contractors. Weapons manufacturers. The same people who spend big money lobbying republicans. Eric Cantor and his crew in DC have a vested financial interest in keeping America scared.
KNOWLEDGE DEMOCRATS: On unions, do you consider yourself more supportive of union rights & issues or less so?
MIKE DICKINSON: I stand in full support of unions. They are the backbone of America and the watchdog of the American worker.
KNOWLEDGE DEMOCRATS: What's your view on the Citizens United case? Do you think it should be overturned/repealed?
MIKE DICKINSON: It is terrible and I would like to see it overturned. In my opinion it really opens the doors for special interest groups to spread lies about candidates. I would like to see the government create a agency or empower a agency for both general news and elections, that monitors content and facts. What the "Swift Boat Veterans" did to John Kerry was nothing but tell straight up lies in the form of ads that cost him votes. If you tell lies or mistruths you should be held accountable. I understand that because these are public figures you get more leeway in being critical of them, but it is one thing to state a opinion and another to state a fact.
KNOWLEDGE DEMOCRATS: Are you a supporter of chained CPI or anything related to reduce benefits in social security or are you against any cuts to the program? Should medicare and social security be apart of addressing the deficit & debt or do they need to be out of the discussion?
MIKE DICKINSON: I am against any cuts to reduce benefits in social security. Our senior citizens worked hard to earn it and we have a duty as a society to take care of them. Medicare and social security should be out of any discussion.
NATIONAL SECURITY/FOREIGN POLICY
KNOWLEDGE DEMOCRATS: What's your feeling on the NSA and what it's tactics have been? Do you believe there needs to be more transparency?
MIKE DICKINSON: The NSA needs to keep Congress and certainly the President in the loop, unless they have a verified threat that a member of Congress is working for a terrorist organization. I am not happy with the unauthorized spying. To me though it comes with more questions then answers. Who owns the Internet? Who owns the Internet mail connections? Is hitting the send button the same as sealing a envelope? The courts have said in past that once you put your trash in a trash can and sit it by side of road for pick up it is abandoned and you lose your privacy. Is this true for email as well?
I do not condone with the NSA did, but technology is a crazy thing and has opened up many new ways for people to transmit ideas, plans, and money. Think about all you can do with your cell phone; send/receive money, email, text message, just for starters. Think about what it took to be a "terrorist" ten or twenty years ago and what it takes now. It used to require a laptop, land line, hard wire Internet connection for email/instant messages, and a dial up modem. Now all that stuff is extinct. Most Americans don't have land lines anymore.
I do not condone what the NSA did, but think about the true direction we are moving in with terrorism. A technology attack on our banking, communications, or transportation computer systems are very realistic threats.
KNOWLEDGE DEMOCRATS: What's your view on abortion and women's rights? And gay rights as well?
MIKE DICKINSON: Very simple. These are not women's rights or gay rights; they are HUMAN RIGHTS. If you are a human being you get the same rights as anyone else. Nobody owns the institution of love and certainly not the institution of marriage. There is no better example of personal freedom then a women being able to make her own decisions.
KNOWLEDGE DEMOCRATS: How would you like to see immigration reform unfold? What's your ideal legislation?
MIKE DICKINSON: Like the Statue of Liberty says, "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me: I lift my lamp beside the golden door."
We are the golden door. We are the place where anyone and everyone can come. There should be processes and procedures for that, such as applying, but I am against slamming that door shut and sending people home. That is not the American way. For undocumented workers here, we need to make them citizens and engage them in the American way. They are here not to steal jobs, not to create a burden on the country, and not to cause crime. They are here for the same reason our ancestors were here, they want a better life. We must remember everyone here is a immigrant, except for descendants of Native Americans,
KNOWLEDGE DEMOCRATS: On climate change and global warming, are these pressing issues that need to be addressed? Do you think the Keystone XL Pipeline is necessary or a waste of time?
MIKE DICKINSON: Very much so. Climate change and global warming is real. Marshes and wetlands along the coast are vanishing. Storms are more powerful than ever. We must take action to correct it. We also must take action to stop fracking. It is not natural and it is ruining our country. Fracking creates a little oil, for a little money today that is going to cost us for many years. I am also against the Keystone XL Pipeline. We need to stop rewarding old technology. Oil/gas is old technology. It is damaging to the environment. Let's put that money into new technology.
Also on the topic of climate change- we need to do something to protect this nation and this world's animals. We must stop trophy hunters who go overseas to thrill kill exotic animals. It is a sick and deprived thing and it is no different than going overseas to Taiwan to have sex with a child. We must also put pressure on other countries to do the same. I read a terrible article about the slaughter of Dolphins in Japan. Very sick. Tradition or no tradition it is a sick thing to kill a mammal that is closely related to humans.
In addition, Mike Dickinson hasn't yet published on his website where he stands on the Issues but he was kind enough to tell us this pertinent information via e-mail:
EQUALITY: Every human being of this earth deserves the same human rights and civil liberties. Freedom and opportunity should not discriminate based upon race, gender, sexual orientation, or income.
Freedom in this country is known as “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” and it is important to recognize that this creed does not discriminate against any group of people.
WOMEN’S RIGHTS: A woman’s right to choose is a fundamental aspect of personal freedom because women should be able to decide what they want to do with their own bodies. Women should be empowered to make their own decisions rather than have decisions forced upon them. Nobody is a stronger advocate of women’s rights than I.
LGBTQ RIGHTS: The rights of the LGBTQ community are basic human rights that we as a society must respect. No one in this society has any authority to tell another person who they can love or marry.
WAGES: A fair day’s work deserves a fair day’s pay. The minimum wage must be raised in order to be in line with corporate profits and the current cost of living.
CRIMINAL JUSTICE: The current jail system is a revolving door which disproportionately impacts two communities – the disadvantaged and poor community, and the African-American community. While those who are disadvantaged and cannot afford solid defenses receive lengthy sentences and criminal records, those with money can often hire good lawyers and get off with slaps on the wrist. I would like to take a long look at the court system and the social factors behind it to help show that, besides in cases of extreme violence, those convicted of low level minor offenses should be able to have their criminal record wiped clean after a period of good behavior within the jail system. Many young people make mistakes and are branded criminals for life, making them unable to receive student loans or good jobs. I understand that not everybody who has gotten in trouble with the law or who is incarcerated is a bad person and would like to provide justice to those who need it.
GUNS: Guns must be treated the way that we treat cars, in the sense that they should be titled, registered, insured, and permitted. We need common sense gun laws and to stop being bullied by the NRA. The second amendment is not absolute. Though I am a strong first amendment advocate but there are exceptions to the first amendment – libel/slander, obscenity, creating a panic by yelling fire in a movie theatre. There are also exceptions for the second amendment. It is ridiculous that school shootings are becoming commonplace in America. A parent should not have to put their child on the bus for school not knowing if they will come home.
TAXES: Our government must be run as a business. Tax cuts mean service cuts. Congressman Cantor does not believe in this. While tax cuts are popular and sound good in theory, we cannot do so without cutting a corresponding service.
HEALTH CARE: We must stand behind President Obama and the Affordable Care Act to try and provide healthcare for as many Americans as possible. One should not face bankruptcy or the loss of their home because he or she, or a family member, got sick. For too long, large healthcare companies were able to fleece the American public, but it is time to change that.
SCIENCE: It is our job to inspire the next generation of scientists and let them recognize that there are still great questions we need answers to. For example, it is important to fund NASA so that we can continue exploring the sky and space and learning more about our world. We must also work tirelessly to find a cure of cancer and HIV/AIDS.
IMMIGRATION: We are a nation of immigrants. Except for descendants of American Indians, everyone had relatives who came to America looking for hope and a better tomorrow. Now, we must provide a path to earned citizenship for undocumented workers living within the United States, who are here also looking for their better tomorrow. All they need is to be given the opportunity to achieve the pursuit of
the American dream, by coming forward and applying for citizenship.
MEDIA: We must look for a long term solution to problem of entertainment masquerading as “news.” It is unacceptable to have news organizations which use their programming to purposely incite anger and fear, allowing it to become real, as was the case when Congressman Gabrielle Giffords was attacked.
The distinction must be made between factual news reported by qualified analysts and entertainment news reported by tabloid news anchors, as it can sometimes be difficult for people to make the distinction. The FCC should monitor news organizations and hold them accountable for reporting lies or mistruths, with the ultimate penalty being removal from the airwaves.
FREEDOM OF SPEECH: We must work to ensure all people have the ability to freely express their opinion.
MILITARY: The image of our heroic soldiers raising the flag at Iwo Jima is what many think of when it comes to the military. However, the next “World War” is going to be one that focuses more on minds and technology. Cyber attacks on our nation’s banking, air traffic, or military system are more realistic threats to national security than anything North Korea or Iran can do. We must work to secure our technology and shift funding towards that.
EDUCATION: Poverty does not discriminate and neither should opportunity. Because of this, it is important that we do more to fund schools in rural areas and inner cities. We must have safe, clean, and modern buildings that offer students access to technology and top-tier teachers. Trailers and year old textbooks are not acceptable. It says a lot about us as a country that we are willing to make countless investments in big oil and military yet constantly shortchange education. We must provide opportunities for higher education and trade school by providing government backed student loans at the lowest interest rate.
INFRASTRUCTURE: If you have seen the movie “Back to the Future,” it can be said that our roads and means of transportation basically look the same today as they did twenty-five years ago. Our society has failed to imagine and invest. But it is time to dream big. Now, we must make a commitment to end America’s dependence on oil and fossil fuels. Instead, we must develop high speed rail networks linking America’s cities and within those cities develop networks of inner city rail lines. We must work to make internet access easily available throughout all regions of America, especially in schools. We must modernize our airports.
ISRAEL: The United States has no greater friend than Israel. We must continue to support them.
MARIJUANA: Though I have never used marijuana, I think that we must follow the lead of President Obama and examine the decriminalization of marijuana.
ENVIRONMENT: We must do all we can to protect our nations resources. Making a cheap dollar today by selling out to fracking is not worth the contaminated air or lack of drinking water tomorrow. We are talking about being able to preserve the basic needs for the children of the future and we must do all we can to move away from oil dependency and find new energy sources.
If you would like to support and get involved in Mike Dickinson's campaign, links are below:
4:14 PM PT: By the way, in case any of you are looking for the video showing Mike Dickinson and Sean Hannity, we don't have it yet. When we have the video, we'll post it here.