Welcome to WCCO.com’s 2020 political guide!
We reached out to all Minnesota candidates running for U.S Senate and U.S Congress this fall. Candidates were asked to provide a two-minute video discussing their platform as well as answer a set of our viewers’ questions.
Below are the answers Oliver Steinberg provided. The candidate did not supply WCCO with a video. This is not a paid advertisement nor does WCCO endorse any candidate.
Responses from Oliver Steinberg, Grassroots-Legalize Cannabis Party candidate for U.S. Senate:
Do you believe racial disparities exist in Minnesota and across the country? If so, what policy changes would you propose to combat this?
As demographic data demonstrate, racial minority groups in Minnesota collectively experience social and economic disparities, including in educational achievement, health care, employment, rental housing and home ownership, income, and in public safety. The inequality is perpetuated by systematic patterns of discrimination that originally were deliberately discriminatory and now are institutionally entrenched in fields like financial services or law enforcement.
Policy changes: End the so-called “war on drugs,” actually a war on people, aimed disproportionately at Black and Brown populations. Like alcohol prohibition, drug prohibition is both discriminatory and counterproductive, triggering gangsterism, corruption, police abuses, adulterated intoxicants, disrespect for all laws, etc.
So many African-Americans were incarcerated under Reagan-Bush-Clinton policies, that the phrase “New Jim Crow” stuck to the drug war juggernaut.
Raise taxes on the wealthy to get funds to bolster public education. Stop “teaching to the test” and raise curriculum standards. Stop shielding police for insults and crimes against citizens. Respect and protect the right to vote. Adopt universal single-payer health care, including mental health & addiction treatment. Implement community-based restorative justice protocols. Tighten regulation of manufacture, sales, and tracking of firearms; repeal gun industry liability exemptions.
Intolerance and bigotry towards those perceived as “others” is a common fault. In the Hubert Humphrey era, a prevailing moral consensus here clearly condemned the open utterance of such prejudice. But constant racist aspersions and xenophobic incitement by talk-radio and cable-tv demagogues subverted that standard of decency! It’s Republican politicians pandering to those race-baiters’ mass audience who have now nationalized the politics of racial scapegoating which used to be chiefly a Southern political perversion.
Let’s stigmatize xenophobia and racial demagoguery as we used to. We have to come up with enforceable reforms for so-called social media which have spawned hate groups and terrorists. And of course restore equal-time FCC editorial protocols.
Biologically speaking, there is only one “race”–the human race. All human beings literally are related.
We belong to one family, under God.
Sociologically speaking, however, we have a seriously dysfunctional family!
“Race” defined by ancestry and superficial features like skin color is a myth, but racism–the discrimination and prejudice against people based on those superficial features–is a reality.
There’s always been a contradiction between the preaching and the practice, since the earliest colonial times. The colonists preached the religion of universal brotherhood while stealing indigenous people’s land, and they prated about liberty while forcing kidnaped Africans into lifelong, hereditary enslavement.
Yet the ideals of freedom and equality that our nation is based on are greater principles, and stronger foundations to build on, than are the hypocritical dogmas and criminal deeds which did happen but should not deter our striving for justice, peace, and equal opportunities.
Do you believe the federal government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic has been adequate? If not, what could have been done differently? Do you believe there should be a national mask mandate?
It was badly botched from the get-go, and that’s because of the colossal ignorance, the sociopathic narcissism, the political mendacity, and the dangerous megalomania of Donald Trump. Trump said, “It will go away like magic,” and when it didn’t, he said: “I’m not responsible.”
Trump’s proclivity for bullying instead of leadership is mainly at fault for the disaster, but blame also goes to his accomplices in the neo-fascist propaganda apparatus anchored by Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, and their ilk; plus the thousands of Republican Party elected officials who forsook their oaths of office to become toadies and henchmen for the sadistic Trump cult of non-stop lying, vicious bullying, irrationality, and ignorance.
A different approach would have been to appeal for national unity, create a top-level bipartisan emergency team, be willing to adopt the tactics used by nations with best success at limiting infections, and build strict accountability rules into the necessary economic relief expenditures. As for a national mask mandate, I doubt it would be Constitutional. It’s a 10th Amendment power, I think, reserved to the states.
What policy changes would you propose to jump-start the economy in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic? Should the federal government pass an additional stimulus bill? If so, what should it include?
The number one thing is to adopt a national health care system like every other advanced nation already has. This is both a health reform and an economic reform. Ideally, an additional stimulus bill would be tied in with a Manhattan-Project-type of effort to combat global warming by achieving an industrial transformation from a fossil fuel-based energy supply to renewable energy. It should be funded by confiscatory taxes on oil company profits and by Elizabeth Warren’s 2% tax hike on the highest income tax range; closing of various loopholes; and revising corporate income taxes to Eisenhower-era rates
What do you think is the root cause of the civil unrest in our community and across the country?
The obvious answer is that the civic unrest following the murder of George Floyd was the spontaneous outburst of angry people who’ve been bullied and pushed around and terrorized by the police for so long that something finally snapped. All it takes is a few provocateurs to break the first window or set the first fire or throw the first brick, and then plenty of fools will pitch in.
But that’s not the entire story, because we’re about to witness another phase and different type of “civic unrest” launched deliberately by heavily-armed storm-trooper groups of fanatical Trump partisans—with a wink-and-a-nod instigation by Trump and the Republicans. This time there’s the potential to escalate from civil unrest to civil war. Or actually, not civil war because it will be one-sided, so it will look more like a pogrom.
If there’s a common root to the manifestations of unrest, it seems psychological to me. There’s a sense of powerlessness, helplessness in the face of immense, impersonal forces depriving people of the sense that they have control over their lives.
My mother would say that it’s all the fault of television. And if we regard television as a symbol of all the tremendous, life-altering, invention and dissemination of advanced electronic technology, she certainly would have a point.
The incendiary stage is set, of course, by the ubiquitous neo-fascist propaganda apparatus that frames and dominates what passes for political discourse in this country: namely; lies, demonization, xenophobia, and fear-mongering, along with adulation verging on idolatry towards the figure of Donald Trump. They’ve perfected a toxic formula for the politics of sadism and scapegoating, and have “sowed the wind”—or sowed the airwaves, anyway—for over 30 years. Now democracy will be the victim as they reap the whirlwind of violence.
Do you believe that funding for police departments should change, and if so, how should those funds be redirected? Should the federal government implement national police standards?
No money for more military-style equipment. If military action is needed, call in the National Guard. Police unions should be brought into line, although more thoughtfully then by the example set by Calvin Coolidge, or by Coolidge’s admirer Ronald Reagan when he repaid his 1980 election endorsement from the air traffic controllers’ union by double-crossing and obliterating that union the year he took office. As for national policing standards, the federal government should see to the enforcement of civil rights laws when the police violate them. Otherwise, I wouldn’t trust the feds to set adequate police standards, even if Congress had that authority which I’m not sure it does
Do you support legalizing the recreational use of marijuana?
I have supported this reform since 1968. Also, government must apologize for and erase all past convictions for all violations of marijuana prohibition (except furnishing it to minors) since those laws are overtly racist in origin, typically unconstitutional, unjust, and unjustifiable. Cannabis is a plant, not a crime. Authorities should repay fines assessed for prohibition infractions, and pay reparations for money or property seized under forfeiture laws, and for other civil and criminal penalties arising from anti-marijuana laws, e.g., the so-called “drug paraphernalia” laws.
What are your thoughts on climate change? What policies, if any, do you support to address it?
Properly described as anthropogenic (human caused), the phenomenon of global warming is not any futuristic threat, it’s already well underway. Without a world-wide crash program to cope with it, we can predict the end of civilization, along with a mass extinction event that might make the biosphere literally uninhabitable for as many humans as manage to survive the cataclysmic collapse of civilization.
Two key alterations in human behavior make up the sine qua non of modifying global warming enough to give us hope of survival: Ending fossil fuel addiction and reducing human populations to a steady global population of no more than five or six billions. Neither of those things is remotely likely to happen.
Do you believe the Affordable Care Act should be replaced or revised? If so, in what way?
Replace it with Medicare for all. Get insurance companies out of the equation. Give employers a break from hassles under ACA, and give workers a break on costs, confusion, and tax time harassment.