IamA progressive congressional candidate running for congress in a conservative state AMA!
My short bio: My name is Dimitri Cherny. After training as an engineer, I had a long career in the high-tech industry up until the great recession. By the end of 2010 I lost everything, and couldn't get a job doing ANYTHING, and was homeless for a few months before retraining as a long-haul truck driver. While driving the highways of America I studied economics and history and realized that our economy HAS been rigged to favor the already successful and leave the rest of us struggling. I also learned that legislation that helps the average American only comes about during big social upheavals - like now. So I'm running for Congress to help make the changes necessary to make life better for the average hardworking American, and to keep our planet from becoming an uninhabitable nightmare for our great grandchildren.
My Proof: https://twitter.com/cherny4congress/status/758453871748321280
Prove to me that you're safe and sane, and I don't care if you own a stinger missile.
With an allocation of roughly .5% of the current US Federal Budget, what is your stance on the funding and operation of NASA?
Boost it. Substantially. Start shifting defense contracts to space colonization contracts. We must expand civilization beyond earth.
what is your plan to get money out of politics?
Start with publicly funded elections. Make the first hurdle for congress be something like raising $10,000 from a thousand people. Then each candidate in the primary gets some number of dollars per population. Then the winner of the primary gets some larger number of dollars per population. Lots of plans are out there with good ideas that I support.
What is your stance on net neutrality?
Keep the net neutral. It's a public good.
How do you feel about the cannabis movement are you behind the research? Do you believe cannabis can provide an alternative for those who are addicted to opiates or that cannabis is a safer than "self medicating" with alcohol. Im very interested in any candidate who is pro change in this direction I would really like to see Cannabis not a schedule 1 drug, will you be advocating to the DEA that Cannabis is merely a plant with medicinal properties and should not be compared to that of ecstasy or methamphetamines? Any response is greatly appreciated, thanks for your time.
I have friends who's pain is only relieved by cannabis. I fully support the legalization of cannabis and hemp.
Thank you for doing this AMA. I'm personally center-right, but I think we may be able to find some common ground here. What do you think of:
Using a carbon tax, cap-and-trade, and/or other pollution-based taxes as a means of efficiently reducing emissions?
Given the political feasibility of single payer, if you cannot manage to implement it would you push for other forms of universal healthcare that may be more palatable to the public and legislatures (and in my personal opinion, more preferable)?
On taxes, would you prioritize raising rates or lowering credits/deductions/loopholes for higher earning individuals? (I'm assuming you're in favor of higher taxes/a more progressive tax code, correct me if I'm wrong).
Anyway, I just want to say I appreciate your willingness to discuss the issues here.
First. I believe the primary role of the federal government is to ensure the long-term prosperity and survival of society and all of civilization. The federal government SHOULD be the one institution that keeps the 500 year view in mind of all decisions made today. That said, federal taxes are one of the only tools we have to engineer society to do the right things for future. We (the federal government - you and me) should have been protecting the future against climate change thirty years ago. If putting a tax on carbon would reduce the use of fossil fuels, I'm all for it. There are other ways to accomplish the same thing. 2. I'm in favor of anything that would provide healthcare at reasonable prices to the most number of people. Nobody should be dying or even going bankrupt over medical problems that are easily handled in more than thirty other countries. 3. Again, taxes modify behavior. What behaviors do we want to modify? I'd make the argument that the quest for unlimited riches (that I was pursuing for awhile) is what is destroying western civilization. I'd like to modify that behavior and create within a generation or two a society more concerned about doing good, living well, and advancing civilization, than on making a ton of money.
Hilary or Trump?
We should be asking the important questions about the people running for congress, the senate and our state legislation. The presidency is simply not as important as the 24 hour news media would have us all believe.
Who ( what groups) has lobbied you at this point for changes in legislation?
Hmmm. I don't think I've been "lobbied" by anyone. I have the endorsement of the AFL-CIO, and am aligned with a couple of conservation groups.
Do you like chicken salad?
No. I'm a vegetarian.
So what you're saying is you lack the courage of Cory Booker, America's vegan senator.
America is sick of these half measures sir.
Yes. I'm a wimp. A lactose intolerant wimp who loves cheese and butter.
Cool! When and why did you decide to become one?
I've been mostly vegetarian for about five years. More mostly since I watched "Forks over Knives".
Would you find yourself more aligned to Bernie, Clinton, Stein?
Bernie. Stein. Clinton. In that order.
Where would you stick Trump and Johnson?
Johnson is at least sane and predictable. Trump comes last.
Given how much Jeb! Bush was funded, why do you still think money is such a critical issue in politics? Do you think that if Jeb! had more money he may have won?
Everyone focuses on the presidential election while all the other elections are stolen by big money. 90% of the time, the candidate who raises the most money wins. To raise the most money candidates spend hours on the phone schmoozing rich donors who can pony-up the maximum donation $2700, twice. So the candidates who win are the ones who are best at schmoozing. Is that who we want making decisions about the future for our kids?
Do you really think you can over come the bias in that district?
South Carolina's 1st has a PVI of R+11, making it extremely unlikely that any Democrat could win. I was born & raised in SC and would love to see at least one more district go blue, but it's simply unrealistic to think OP can overturn it. Stephen Colbert's own sister couldn't defeat Sandford and that was when Sandford's bizarre disappearance because of his affair was still pretty fresh in everyone's mind. She still lost by almost 10pts.
Being a progressive pretty much insures that OP is going to be defeated by an even bigger margin. It would take a pretty moderate Democrat to win that district. If anyone really wants to make a difference in the House, better to find another district somewhere in country where the Cook PVI gives the progressive/Democratic candidate more of chance.
It's worth a try, isn't it? I have nothing to lose. And since every previous candidate has tried republican-light, I'm trying something different - full-bore, no-holds barred progressive. November will tell if it works.
What is your stance on immigration, specifically illegal immigration? Thanks.
Yes, ideally our borders should not be porous. But that's a tough nut to crack. The question is, who's employing illegals and why aren't we going after them? If we want to stop illegal immigration, like if we want to stop the import of illegal drugs, we're going to have to treat the problem - the employers of illegal immigrants and the consumers of illegal drugs. As long as people are making a profit off either, they will be impossible to stop. Stop the profit and the problem goes away. That said, a large percent of the illegal immigration to America in the past decade has come about specifically because of America's poor illegal drug policies which have wrecked both economies and governments in central America. I can't blame people for migrating to find a better life and I applaud them for the struggles they've overcome to get here and find employment.
If your campaign is successful, what would be the first thing you'd do to make a change?
One person in Congress can't accomplish anything. It will take a few dozen of me to have any impact on the agenda of what comes up for votes. Fortunately there are a hundred people just like me also running for Congress this year.
Partisan-drawn districts are often gerrymandered, but independent panels can still draw districts that fail to reflect the voters' will. You can still end up with unrepresentative districts where a single Democrat wins with 80% in the city, and then multiple Republicans win with 50.1% in the suburbs.
To solve that problem, would you adopt FairVote's proposal of having mutlimember districts with proportional representation1 ?
I haven't specifically looked at FairVote's proposal but I fully support more proportional representation in any redistricting efforts in the future.
(1/4) Will you please abolish the sub-minimum wage for disabled workers1 ?
(2/4) Will you please support the Disability Integration Act 2 ?
(3/4) Will you please abolish asset caps that trap disabled people in poverty3 ?
(4/4) Will you please commit to making sure your site is accessible to disabled voters4 ?
Yes, Yes, Yes, Yes (but I'm not sure how I'd do that last one.)
I've gone on the record with a disabled rights organization about all those things. I don't recall now which one.
Evidence tells us the dearth of internal expertise in Congress - e.g., Gingrich's elimination of the Office of Technology - exacerbates corruption. In order to learn about relevant tech or industry matters, Congress can't rely on overstretched, underpaid staff, and often, can only get any information on a policy issue from lobbyists representing people with a profit interest in a particular policy.
Would you support increasing pay and professionalizing congressional staff1 to further increase Congress' ability to resist lobbyist influence?
Absolutely. I'd fully support bringing back the office of technology. Too many ignorant congressman need unbiased information.
Thanks for the AMA. We need more individuals like you.
Polls show the country is more polarized than ever. Which means, the conservatives TEND to only align with other conservatives, watch only conservative leaning news channels, and follow politicians/celebrities who align with their thought process. Same with the liberals.
My question is, as someone who is running for office, how do you overcome this barrier with people (especially in a conservative state), who don't really want to listen to someone with different values?
The five issues we all agree on are the starting point. After a brief discussion with many people who've previously voted for only republican candidates, I often hear "You got my vote. I'm voting for you and Trump."
Where do you see your campaign having crossover appeal? Do you have progressive values on the prototypical hotbutton issues? If so, how do you intend to navigate those issues with your constituency? How would you combat the "tax & spend liberal" narrative?
I've discovered that nearly everyone I speak with, regardless of whether they've previously voted for republican or democrat candidates, agree on five issues. 1. get money out of politics 2. implement Universal single-payer healthcare 3. improve our educational systems and include pre-K through 16 4. strengthen social security 5. improve veteran support
Other issues don't have universal support. But why aren't we using the federal government to implement the few things we all agree on now?
I don't know a lot of conservatives who push for universal healthcare or "strengthening" social security.
How many people did you talk to? 3?
When I ask the question "what one or two things could the federal government do to make your life better"? Healthcare is the number one response. Education number two, social security number three. And then everyone agrees we need to get money out of politics to get any of that done.
.......those are all "tax and spend" statements.
If that's all people care about, there's nothing I can do for them. But if they care about getting services that actually benefit them from their "tax dollars", I can help.
If you think people agree on universal, single-payer health care, you haven't done much research. Why do you feel the government can do health care better than the private sector? ACA was supposed to improve health care but it just helped insurance companies and hospitals. Also, how would you 'fix' the economy being rigged?
There are some basic human services, provided by all of us collectively to all of us, that should not be profit making ventures. In short, no one should be making a profit off the suffering of others. Single payer healthcare would replace much of the medical insurance business, not the healthcare business. It's working very well in almost three dozen other countries. Why can't America do it, and do it better?
What are a few positions that Mark Sanford has that you disagree with most?
The list is shorter of things we agree on. 1. no offshore oil exploration or drilling off the coast of SC. 2. normalized relations with Cuba.
Other than that, Mark wants to spend no federal dollars and votes against anything that does so.
What are the important issues to people you are meeting on your campaign tour in coastal South Carolina?
See the five issues I listed above.
Why is playing politics the way things are nowadays? What happen to honest moral people running for office, telling the truth (not their opinions of facts that I see over and over again) and the public and press calling out politicians on their bullshit until they tell the truth?
I think our entire election process is faulted to reward the people with the biggest egos who can schmooze the most money from wealthy donors. If we want Democracy to survive, we must start a discussion about fixing the system to encourage "normal" people to run for office, make their contributions, then get back to being normal again.
running for congress is nice, but what is the opportunity that you have to win and how will you get the voters in your district to show up and vote for you?
I'm an engineer so I always look at the numbers. Republican candidates have always won in this district by as many as 76,000 votes. So I need to find 76,000 apathetic voters and show them that a candidate DOES care about them and a candidate CAN fight for them in Washington, or I need to convince 39,000 people who have previously voted for Republican candidates that getting SOMETHING done in Washington, like things they want to get done (see the five issues I described earlier) is much better than getting NOTHING done in Washington, which is what will happen if Mark Sanford is reelected. That's why I'm on a 700 mile and 70 day journey across the 1st Congressional district on my bicycle, pulling my sailing canoe behind me, meeting and listening to and speaking with average Lowcountry citizens where they work, shop, play and live.
Hi Mr. Cherney! I've been following you on Facebook and you already have my vote. My question to you is, as residents of Charleston what can we do with the extreme income disparity here? Workers (especially those in the hospitality industry) aren't being paid living wages. We're being priced out of our homes. The cost of living here is astronomical compared to wages. Our infrastructure cannot support all of the new residents. People are having to look for housing hours outside the city just to afford rent. How can we change that? I love my home but my rent has gone up every single year while my place is falling apart and my complex looks like an abandoned property. I cannot find an affordable place to live. I know this is one of the biggest problems Charlestonians face. Forget Southern Charm, those people represent less than .001% of the people that live and struggle here. But of course, they get a voice and those of us struggling to survive have no voice at all.
Unfortunately federal representatives can't do much about that other than raising the national minimum wage - which I fully support - and throw money at existing affordable housing programs - which isn't the problem in Charleston. The problem is the lack of NEW affordable housing which will only be built when the local government, the city of Charleston, gets serious about it.
Thanks for talking with us. I empathize with your story, and I like everything I see about you - except the 'D' next to your name. Let me explain:
Do you see a political realignment occurring, in which the Democrats become the party of educated, wealthy rentiers who turn working people into supplicants and the Republicans become a nationalist rising of working people against degenerate globalist traitors?
If so, how do you reconcile championing the average working American with running as a Democrat?
My opponent has an R next to his name but he certainly doesn't support working people. I contend that the Democrats took a wrong turn with the Clinton administration by abandoning the hardworking Americans and becoming the party of the "intelligentsia". Bernie showed us what the Democratic party should be. I'm sorry it's not going to get there as quickly as it might have if he had lead the ticket.
As a public school teacher in Charleston, SC, I am concerned about the voice of teachers and our ability to effect change in schools. Do you believe it is possible to restore collective bargaining rights to SC workers? If so, what steps would you take to move our state in that direction?
As a federal representative, I would have little if any impact on school changes and improvements. All congress can do is throw money at the states for education. Which is why it's SOOOO important for people to vote for the right school board members, and state legislators who decide how each state will fund schools, enact "right to exploit" laws such as we have in SC, and other legislation that can make or break the educational system.
Campaign Finance Reform & Anti-Corruption
The American Anti-Corruption Act1 would provide citizens with vouchers they could contribute to candidates and parties, which would help lower-income voters get more influence.
Would you support that as part of a plan for public financing of elections?
That sounds like a good idea. We need candidates to be concerned more about the bulk of their constituents - who are living paycheck-to-paycheck, rather than the bulk of their donors who have done well with the current economic models.
(1/3) To increase turnout by easing participation, would you support encouraging or requiring states adopt vote by mail1 ?
(2/3) To increase turnout in local elections, would you support coordinating elections (http://www.scholarsstrategynetwork.org/node/28106) (e.g., requiring local elections be held in midterm & Presidential election years)?
(3/3) Based on the 2000 election, would you support nationally requiring we move to score voting (a.k.a. range voting)3 4 5 to prevent another Bush-Gore/Nader spoiler problem?
- Anything that makes it easier for ALL citizens to vote would be great.
- I haven't heard about this but knowing the importance of local elections, I'm all for whatever gets more people out to vote for them.
- I also haven't heard about this but anything that allows more voices to be heard in government, and ends the extremism that the two party system has created, is something I would support.
What is your honest opinion of the two frontrunners for the presidential election?
Neither are what I was hoping for. I think we missed a big opportunity to quickly move America forward, so I and the hundred other progressive congressional candidates are doing our best to move America forward a little more gradually. The presidential role is certainly important, but as we've seen from so many presidents, without a supporting congress, the role is mostly toothless.
(1/3) Do you support Bernie Sanders' immigration reform plan1 ?
(2/3) Would you support the Black Alliance for Just Immigration's call for reform, including repealing the discriminatory and ant-immigrant provisions of the immigration policies of '96, and guaranteeing counsel for all denfendants in immigration courts? 2
(3/3) Would you support a state-based visa system to supplement our current federal program, as is practiced in Canada and Australia 3 ?
- Generally I support all of Bernie's platform, including his immigration plan.
- Never heard about that. Good idea. But knowing how incompetent many states are, I'm not sure I'd trust many to handle such a program.
Refugees & Asylees
(1/3) Would you support adding gender to the list of categories for refugee status?
Women who face persecution in their home countries today based on their gender must now prove they are also part of a 'special group' in order get asylum here1.
(2/3) Would you support eliminating the cap of refugees so we can accept as many refugees as we can manage, without artificial numerical limits?
(3/3) The world faces the greatest global refugee crisis since WWII.
Would you work with Sec. Kerry & the UNHCR to advance an international resettlement system wherein wealthy nations provide direct aid transfers to refugees2, which should indirectly subsidize the disproportionately poorer nations that accept the vast majority of refugees?
The Center For Global Development (@CGDev) notes research tells us direct cash aid is the best way to help immigrants and prevent Alan Kurdi type tragedies. 3
I've given very little thought to any of these issues, instead focusing on economic issues. However, as the proud son of refugees from World War II, I know how important refugees and asylum seekers are to increasing the diversity and vitality of American culture. I can't say what specific steps I'd support without some research but I certainly don't feel good about letting people suffer when we can help them. I do know this. With rising seas, we are facing the largest human migration and resettlement in history. In the US alone, 200 million people will have to move inland in the coming decades. We better get DAMN good at resettling people and creating new cities and communities.
What is your stance on the Second Amendment? Guns are a big issue for us Republicans and I think it's fair to say, 99.9% of Americans who legally own, safely store, and correctly know how to use their guns, aren't going to go on a shooting spree.
EDIT: According to some info from a fellow redittor, this candidate wants to abolish the second amendment despite what he says.
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