I am Richard Morgan, the software engineer running against SOPA / PCIP Sponsor Lamar Smith. AMA
If you support my effort, please consider donating here. Campaigns are expensive, and no amount is too small: https://rally.org/morgan4tx/
It would also help if you could spread that link on Twitter for any of your followers who dislike SOPA.
Update: I'm still answering questions, just juggling a few other things too. You may have to scroll a bit to get past the two most popular questions (and unpopular answer), but there is a lot more below if you do.
Update: My response rate has slowed way down, and I'm stepping out for a while, but there are some great questions still awaiting answers, and I'll be back to answer them tonight.
Update: I'm back. Going to hop back and forth between answering new posts and answering the posts that have been waiting.
1) I knew someone would call me out on that. I just haven't had the time to switch them over. Even before entering this race, I was working 80+ hours a week between my job and volunteer political stuff. My newer sites are on name.com (anti-SOPA).
2) I don't see it so much as splitting the anti-Smith vote, rather I see it as giving the anti-Smith voters two alternatives. There are people who will prefer Mack, and there are people who will prefer me. By giving people two options, there is a better chance that they will vote for one of us, rather than reluctantly voting for Smith if they disagreed with either of us on important issues to them. Incumbents are more likely to die in office than to lose a Primary. The best way to beat Smith is in a runoff, not in the Primary. To force a runoff, we need to get a combined 50% + 1 vote. If that happens, whichever two candidates received the most votes will go into a runoff.
Lots of donors will avoid donating against an incumbent because they don't want a backlash. Lots of people will hold off endorsements for the same reason. In a runoff, they would be much more likely to give and endorse, because Smith has already shown that he's very vulnerable. It also gives the challenger two extra months to raise money.
There will also be much lower turnout in a runoff. Romney cannot secure enough delegates before our May 29th Primary to ensure that he's the nominee, which means that Texas will still be in play. Lamar Smith has endorsed Romney and has a home in MA, where rumor has it he spends more time than here in Texas. Romney appears to be the front-runner down here, and people who would vote for Romney are probably more likely to vote for Smith than for either Mack or myself. In a runoff, however, there will be much lower turnout, and no one will be voting for the President anymore, making it much more likely that our guys will turnout, not Smith's. Also, our voters are motivated and will turnout twice, while Smith's voters will vote for him largely due to his universal name ID and the fact that they've voted for him for decades. Something else is with two of us, we can cover twice as much ground. Our district is quite large. It includes San Antonio, Austin, and a whole lot of countryside. Mack lives in the countryside, and I'm hoping he can lock up those votes. Meanwhile, I'm in Austin, and I'm focusing here. I haven't seen Mack at a single event, so if he's working as hard as I am, that means we're covering twice as much ground together as either of us would alone. I'm more worried about my supporters getting confused when they see two Richard's than I am about us splitting the anti-Lamar Smith vote.
3) I have some things in common with Smith and some things in common with Mack. Again, it gives voters two choices, and I believe I'm a safer choice. Mack has a following here, but he also has lots of people who will never vote for him. Ever. If things have appeared a little disorganized or rushed, it's because I was the last to enter the race, and both of my opponents have been preparing a lot longer. The first several weeks were hectic, but now that I have a framework and some volunteers in place, things are settling down.
3b) I'll be expanding on those very soon on my website, and I'm happy to answer those questions here, too.
Edit: I'm going to add answers to a couple more questions to keep them together.
4) It seems like you filed for your candidacy at the last possible minute. You also had to pay $3,125 to file. Did you pay for this yourself?
I did pay for it myself. I had been active fighting SOPA behind the scenes in political circles for several months when I went online to donate to Smith's opponent and found out he did not have one. I later found out Mack had been exploring a run, but I did not realize that when I started looking into it.
The problem was due to the redistricting nightmare, I had no idea where the final map was going to be, and I felt that was something I needed to know before quitting my job to go for this. Tuesday night we finally got maps, and Wednesday I quit my job. Thursday, I had a small flood in my house that took up most of my day, leaving me from Friday, March 2nd - Friday, March 9th to collect and validate 500 signatures from registered voters in the district. I got 500 signatures in one week, but I was not able to validate them all, and many of them were right outside the district. I had gotten a few in advance which had been in the old district but were drawn out of the new one.
Given that I was able to get 500 signatures in a week, I decided it was worth going for, so I put up the $3,125, and I'm glad I did. This has already been a great campaign, and it's just getting started.
Thanks for the quick response & detailed explanation!
1) I understand you were busy, but you could have started with any number of other domain hosters. Plus the PAC I've seen closely associated with you (at least, your supporters are pushing it and you've commented on their facebook page) is also hosted on GoDaddy. I feel that hosting your sites with an alternative company (and encouraging the people who are advocating internet freedom to do the same) is kind of step #1 in practicing your opposition to SOPA.
2) I'm surprised that you say the primary isn't the best way to get Lamar Smith off of the ballot, but I can see your point, particularly with regards to donations and endorsements in the runoff. I am of the opinion that if it does go to a runoff, it will almost certainly include Lamar Smith and one of the two R.M. candidates rather than both you and Mack. If you feel like answering more questions: What happens if it's not you?
It will be very interesting to see what happens with the primary given the huge anti-SOPA anti-Hollywood sentiment I'm seeing from all sides of the political spectrum.
3a& 3b) Good to know that there will be more info coming soon - SOPA is a good place to start for this group, but statements like "I support returning education funds to the states" are way too vague to get you anywhere. We can start with that one if you'd like, & work our way down the list :)
Another few questions for you: You define your positions on the issues primarily in terms of "not Lamar Smith." 4) How are you also different from Mack? 5) What are your roots in the Texas community? I understand you just recently moved here. 6) Who are you, outside of "not Lamar Smith"
I'm at work so I won't be able to respond for the next few hours, but I look forward to seeing your replies. Thanks!
1) I've had most of my sites with Godaddy for years due to various promotions they've run in the past, but moving away from Godaddy is on my TODO list. I've been actively fighting SOPA behind the scenes in political circles for months.
2) I'm still learning more about Mack, but I think I trust him more than I trust Smith.
3) A key reason I support returning education to the states is that education is a local issue and that parents and the community can do a better than a politician in Washington. Rather than sending our tax dollars to Washington so that we can get some of them back with strings attached, I would rather keep that money here so that it can go towards educating children. In addition, I was homeschooled for all twelve years, and I credit homeschooling with allowing me to get ahead in life. Obviously not everyone will have that opportunity, but policy should encourage parents to invest in their children.
4) I see Lamar Smith as a big-government Republican vs I'm a limited-government conservative. Rather than trying to solve things at the federal level as Smith does, I would return as much power back to the people and the states. That's a key difference.
5) My dad was in the military so I traveled most of my life, but I've been in Texas since high school. It's the only home I have. In fact, I'm the only person in the race who's lived in Texas for most of this last decade. Mack moved to Texas a few months ago, and from what I've seen, Smith has spent the last several years living in Cape Cod, MA.
6) Hopefully my answers on all these questions show that I'm guided by a number of basic principles and that I'm honest and transparent. Unfortunately, we might not agree on every single issue, but I don't try to hide who I am.
piggy-backing off this question, I was just wondering when/if you plan to officially register with the FEC, because when I last checked, you weren't.
Full disclosure: It has been a week or so since I last checked.
Also, you will be splitting the anti-Lamar vote whether you see it that way or not. Having two candidates that oppose Smith will make it such that Lamar has to win by a smaller percentage than if he were only running against one candidate. Unless you win the anti-smith vote by a landslide, you'll be splitting the vote most likely pretty evenly with Mack and lowering the percentage of the popular vote that Lamar has to get to be re-elected.
I filed the FEC stuff a while back. The FEC is slow to post things. It should be online by now, though.
There are roughly 80,000 expected voters in this Primary. Look at it this way, if it were Smith vs either of us, there would be no "split", and one person might get 30,000 votes, re-electing Smith. Now that there are two of us, let's say we split the anti-Smith vote, but we each draw in an extra 5,000 people + 1 that the other person could not have. Now it's 40,000 to 20,000 to 20,000, meaning we've forced a runoff.
Do you beileve in evolution?
It's my personal belief, so I'm not sure what impact it would have on policy-making at the federal level, but I don't.
Rather than get into a debate about why or why not, I would just leave it at this. As an engineer, the universe seems more like the result of a brilliant creator / designer than the result of chance.
I knew it wouldn't be a popular answer here, but I find it somewhat disappointing that a simple, honest answer regarding my personal beliefs on one issue would cause so many people to write off everything else. This is why politicians pander.
I'd also like to point out that I believe all three of us (Smith, Mack, and myself) running in the Primary share the same view on this question. There are many other areas where we disagree.
Do you have a page which has your stances on issues? If so a link to that would be fine... if not, could you give your opinions on the following:
1) Why was SOPA/PCIP wrong specifically?
2) What is wrong with the Patriot Act?
3) Where should the line (if at all) be drawn between religion and government?
4) What are your views on abortion? Why?
5) What are your views on defense spending? Why?
6) What should be done about social security/medicare? Why?
7) What is currently wrong with the American education system? What can be done?
8) Is there anything wrong with the privatization of America's prison system or the statistically high level of prisoners in it? What can be done to correct any problems you feel there are?
9) What do you feel about gun ownership? When should and shouldn't a person be allowed to be armed?
10) Do you believe evolution is the most accurate and reasonable explanation for the diversity of life on earth, including humans? If no, what other system do you follow and why?
11) Do you think that humans have altered the worlds climate?
12) What should be done to workers who have been found to have entered the country illegally? Also what about their families?
13) Do you feel unions are essential, good, irrelevant, or harmful to workers and long term business in the US? Why?
14) What should be done in regards to the conflict in Afghanistan?
15) What should be done in regards to terrorist organizations known to be operating out of Pakistan?
16) What should be done in regards to Palestine/Israel? Why?
17) Do you feel Iran is attempting to become a nuclear power? Why?
18) Do you feel Israel is justified in it's threats against Iran? What, if any, involvement should the US have in this?
19) Where specifically in the US budget are we spending too much, and where specifically do we need to spend more, and why?
20) What is the single biggest threat to the American way of life?
21) Do you feel gay couples should be legally allowed to be married and/or adopt children?
22) Should sex-ed be a required course in school?
23) Do you feel there is corruption in government. If yes, how can that be fixed?
24) Was our involvement in Libya the right thing to do? Syria?
25) How many nuclear weapons do we need?
26) How should the tax burden be arranged?
27) What has Obama done wrong? What has Obama done right?
28) What is one question which you are uncomfortable being asked because it is controversial which I have not included here, and what is the answer to that question?
(edit, added question27)
This is a long one. I've got to run some errands, but I'll answer this soon.
What is your opinion of the War on Drugs?
In my opinion, I think it's bad policy, and I believe history will judge us for it. We should have learned from Prohibition. My opponent has a record of refusing to hear bills he disagrees with, and I disagree with him for that. Rather than block Ron Paul's bill for consideration, he should have let it come up for a much-overdue debate. Let all the facts come out, and then let our Representatives vote. And to those who support the War on Drugs, I think it's important to point out that ending the federal prohibition is not the same as ending all regulation. It's simply returning that authority to the states so that they can each regulate it as they see fit.
This was a typical political answer. I know you think it's bad policy, and that we should at least debate/discuss the issue, but I want to know how do you feel about the war on drugs?
Do you think it has been a complete failure?
Do you think drugs should be legalized, if not at the very least, marijuana?
Is this a criminal issue? Health issue? Moral issue? Individual rights issue?
a) Pretty much. b) I think we should decriminalize marijuana at the federal level. c) It's a matter of rights. It's not the federal government's role.
what is your stance on abortion, we had another guy recently who thought the day after pill was the same as killing an infant.
I'm pro-life, but I would say there is a difference between preventing a pregnancy vs ending a pregnancy.
What direction do you think the Internet is headed if these bills were to pass?
Congress as a whole is taking us in the direction of China / Iran / Egypt, what with censorship, tracking of online activity, a recent internet killswitch proposal, prior proposals to ban encryption, etc. These two bills were terrible, but they're part of a bigger trend that undermines our freedom. IMO, it's not enough just to push back on these bills. We need to reverse the trend and write bills (with extensive feedback from the tech community) to limit the government's reach and require them to get a warrant before reading our emails, tracking us through our cell phones, etc. I'll verify in just a minute.
But isn't one of the problems with the bills that they are proposed under the pretense of another goal? You're right that "congress as a whole" is doing this, but do you have any specific plans for a paradigm shift regarding these shady strategies?
Yes, but that's a problem with lots of bills, not just technology-related bills. We need to write smaller bills. We need more debate. We need to write bills that focus on one thing. We need to make sure we use very specific language in the bills rather than leave things vague. We need more transparency. The general public should be able to see the bills with plenty of time to provide feedback, and we need people who will listen.
Rate the following in order of preference; 1. Python 2. Ruby 3. PHP 4. Erlang
Depends. PHP is my day job. Python is better structured. Ruby just isn't me. Erlang and Scala are both on my study list.
No love for Perl?
In your opinion, why is congress so adamant in censoring the internet without any regard of the damage they can cause?
I don't think they really understand the impact these bills would have. Let's look at their backgrounds--you have 181 businessmen, 172 political science majors, 148 lawyers... and 6 engineers. Senator Wyden and Congressman Issa were two of the strongest voices against SOPA, and they both come from science backgrounds.
Can you please elaborate on a few other issues/views that are fundamentally different than Mr. Smith? SOPA / PCIP is an important issue, but there are others I would like to hear your views on as well. Anything else that really sets you apart from him?
I'm against the NDAA vs he voted for it. I'm against HR 347 vs he voted for it. I'm against the Patriot Act vs he voted for it. I'm against No Child Left behind vs he voted for it.
In short, I see Mr. Smith as a big-government Republican, and I see myself as a limited-government conservative. I'm very concerned about all the rights the government has been taking away from us, and I'm against bureaucracy.
I see myself as a limited-government conservative.
So how do you feel about Obamacare?
I think its easy for healthy people to criticize it. But as someone who lives with a chronic disease, it truly is a step in the right direction (from my perspective). I've had to go without health insurance for a few months, and it pretty much crippled me financially since I need supplies and medicine multiple times everyday.
The fear of being denied health insurance because of pre-existing condition is scary and people who don't have to worry about it, really demean the whole situation when they try and talk about it and pretend they are sympathetic.
Insurance companies don't want to cover me. They consistently fight with me over covering certain medicines. Because of my condition they know ultimately that I am going to cost them money.
I've been paying attention to the idea of health care reform for a long time, and while I have my own problems with Obamacare. It is atleast an attempt at addressing the problem. I always hear politicians talking about how health care needs to be fixed, and that there are other solutions other than Obamacare, but yet nobody ever has a well thought out plan. Just political rhetoric that anything is better than the legislation President Obama signed.
EDIT: Went through all the questions posted in this IAMA. I may have missed what I was looking for but I dont think I did. Seems like this guy didn't answer any question about health care. Thats pretty disappointing. Especially when you consider the Supreme Court hearing oral arguments whether or not its constitutional, and them setting a massive precedent if they overturn it. It's extremely topical and one issue that affects everyone directly.
You see like a pretty reasonable guy (minus not believing in evolution, but thats your right). But all you've really done is talked about issues you knew reddit would agree with. Paraphrasing what other people said, but yes, you mostly seem like a single issue candidate.
And not to sound hostile, but complaining about the state of congress now and their pandering, while you only talk about things that most people on here generally agree about, is pandering.
I'm not ignoring you. I'll be back on later to answer this and the others I missed.
I'm a consultant working in Austin. What can I do to help you run/win against Lamar Smith? This is a cause I'd definitely volunteer time and effort for.
Please email me at [email protected]. I'd love to get coffee sometime and get you connected with the rest of my volunteers. There's a lot to do.
As someone coming from engineering who is running against a man who is hated for his stance on internet bills, your campaign so far seems to have a laser focus. How do you compare to Lamar Smith on other issues important to your district that do not relate to internet freedoms?
Also man, you really need proof on this stat.
According to the Austin Chamber of Commerce, 25% of payroll in the Austin are related to tech jobs, so I think it's important to point out that my technology background is more than simply opposing SOPA. It's about fighting to make sure policy doesn't get written that hurts these startups. I was watching C-SPAN the other day when the crowdfunding provision in the JOBS Act was being debated. I noticed that Senator Merkley from Oregon kept talking about the potential for predators to take advantage of investors if crowdfunding sites weren't regulated. Here were some of the thoughts that came to mind that I didn't hear anyone mention: - Crowdfunding platforms have an incentive to prevent fraud, because if their investors get burned, they'll stop using that platform (in favor of a better platform that has more features or less fraud). I truly believe competition works. - If registering with the SEC would actually solve all problems, then wouldn't companies choose to do so voluntarily? - Engineers and tech startups have more or less solved spam. Can't we at least be given a chance to solve this on our own?
I've used Prosper. In fact, I used it fairly often till they stopped servicing Texas for a while in order to comply with registration guidelines. It was great to see the different tools they used to prevent fraud: - Borrowers could verify their credit score - Borrowers could verify their home ownership status - Borrowers could join groups with higher ratings in order to qualify for better rates -- and the groups would authorize only the borrowers they thought were lowest risk, in order to keep their high rating!
There are so many solutions, and this is such a new industry, that I wish we had been given a chance to innovate rather than being forced to comply with new regulations. Certainly regulations have their place, but they often hurt innovation, and I personally feel that this was one area we could have handled it ourselves.
This is an excellent answer Mr. Morgan, thank you for replying.
But we've got to talk about your wardrobe.
If you're running for public office at the federal level you've got to dress for the damn part. The verification is appreciated, but wear a suit next time. You're young, and that's going to work against you as much as it will work for you. Giving people any reason to discredit you or confirm whatever bias they've preconceived against you is bad strategy.
Throw some money at your wardrobe. Get a female friend to help you dress to the image of the young silicon valley tech-genius popular culture has given us. Hit the gym, get a haircut, have a professional tailor your pants.
Furthermore, refine your message. This isn't just an issue of civil liberties and government control, you're a man advocating for free market solutions! Running against a Republican (regardless of your own party affiliation) this is rhetorical ammunition with some weight to it. My point: I can read between the lines to know that's what you believe, but make sure you explicitly vocalize the important buzzwords.
Here is my normal photo, and I almost always wear a suit when I'm at events or speaking: http://richardmorgan.com/pr/RichardMorgan.jpg
Realistically, what are your chances of beating this guy? He's been in office nearly 25 years.
I think the chances are fairly good. Most people I've talked to have no idea how many things he's voted for that they disagree with. The biggest challenge is spreading the word and informing people. Once they hear, most will vote against him.
How much of an impact do you think the offshoring of sofware dev has had, and will have in the future on the us and other western countries?
Certainly offshoring has had an impact, and I expect that trend to continue, especially as companies start taking advantage of video conferencing so that executives feel like they can keep an eye on overseas offices. Still, good programmers will always have jobs, and the need for good programmers is growing faster than we're producing them. From the reports I've seen, and from my first-hand experience and talking with other programmers, there are no shortage of jobs for good programmers. (If you've seen differently, come to Texas.)
As the need for programmers continues to grow, I suspect a shortage of programmers here might motivate employers to move those jobs overseas, and I would support this strategy of bringing skilled workers here so that they could contribute to our economy, rather than sending our jobs to them: http://www.ktvb.com/news/Congressman-introduces-bill-to-fill-high-tech-jobs-131894928.html
dude my name is Richard Morgan as-well and I don't look too dissimilar to you, not sure if wtf or high five :|
High five! Or better yet, fist bump: http://blog.softlayer.com/2008/fist-bumps/
Would you accept donations from corporations to lobby for their interests? If not, do you reasonably think you stand any chance to make a difference? If yes, aren't you doing the same Lamar does, only for different interst groups?
There is a big difference between accepting contributions vs letting those contributions influence decision-making. I've already pledged not to keep more than 60% of the salary, so hopefully it's clear already that money is not what motivates me.
I did not come from a rich family, and I've worked 80 hours a week since I was 14 between my job and school. 7-8 years ago, I was counting pennies so that I could buy myself a Whopper at the end of each week. At 19, I had a great job. At 23, I bought a great house. At 24, I got promoted to senior front-end developer--the only senior developer under 30. With each success came a temporary satisfaction but a greater feeling of disappointment.
I realized a couple years ago that money didn't satisfy me. I'd reached my financial goals and was well on track to my goal of an early retirement and freedom, but I didn't want to spend the next 20 years going through the motions. I spent a few months overseas doing volunteer work, where I witnessed the effects of government corruption and after coming back I began to get involved in politics. That's my passion. I like fighting for the things I believe in. If people want to donate so that I can keep doing what I'm doing, then I think that's great, but money is not going to change what I believe in.
What do you personally feel as being responsible behind this bill (and subsequently similar bills) being drafted?
My opinion is the media industry has found it easier to lobby than to adapt and compete.
Going back decades to the invention of radio, tv, VHR's, cd's, and now the internet, they've always protested that new technology would kill their profits. The irony is as costs have gone down, their profits have increased greatly with each invention. They should focus their efforts on producing great content, finding competitive pricing, and embracing new technology rather than trying to cripple the web to remain competitive.
Hi! Thanks for doing this :)
1) Why are you hosted by GoDaddy if you are so against SOPA?
2) Are you worried about 2 'Richard M.'s splitting the anti-Lamar Smith vote?
3) How do you respond to these comments about why we shouldn't take you seriously, namely that "Richard Morgan is NOT a candidate to take seriously. He's someone looking to cash in on splitting the vote. He has similar positions to Lamar while not being Lamar."
*Edit: Also, can you expand on some of these? Your stances on these positions are pretty weak - how will you go about doing this stuff?
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