Courtney Rowe for Congress and her Interview with Mika

17798942_1840416086218309_2223149312025208280_nRecently, I interviewed Courtney Rowe who is running for Congress in Iowa Congressional District 1. 

Here are the questions I asked and her responses. Following them, I will give my thoughts on them.

Question 1: The average student-loan in 2014 was $28,950, representing a 56 percent increase from the 2004 average of $18,550. During that same decade, state funding for public colleges dropped from 62 percent to 51 percent. College is free in Sweden, Denmark, and Finland, while in France, public universities are free for students from lower-income families, and those from higher-income families pay about $200 a year. What would you do or support to reduce the cost of going to college or make it tuition free as it is in many nations?

  • Courtney’s answer: Increase Federal funding to make state and community college (including trade school) essentially free (no more than $50-100 per class).

Question 2: The Republican-controlled Congress appears to be fighting for corporations, insurance companies and for-profit hospitals in their effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Repeal would mean that 57 million senior citizens and disabled Americans with Medicare would see higher premiums and deductibles. Repeal would increase Medicare spending by $802 billion over the next ten years, according to estimates by the Congressional Budget Office. Repeal would also take Medicaid away from nearly 17 million people. I am one of the Americans who benefits from the ACA because I live with a pre-existing condition, cystinosis. The disease is a rare orphan disease that causes the amino acid cystine to accumulate in the cells, and it slowly damages my organs including the kidneys, liver, thyroid, eyes, lungs muscles, and brain. Do you support keeping the ACA?

  • Courntey’s answer: Yes, until we replace it with something better.

Question 3: The ACA is a significant step forward, and we must fight to protect it. However, even with it one of my medications, Procysbi costs over $75,000 for a 30-day supply. That is just one medication not including the 24 other medications I am taking. What do you propose which would correct the errors in the ACA?

  • Courtney’s answer: I support universal single payer healthcare. This is the most cost effective way to cover everyone.

 

In 2017, many transgender and intersex individuals still do not have access to high-quality comprehensive health care. Even when transgender and intersex individuals do access health care they are often faced with harassment and discrimination. Some of the issues that transgender and intersex  individuals face  include but are not limited to the follow, physicians and medical staff refusing to identify the individual by  their preferred name and pronouns (for many individuals it is difficult and sometimes even impossible for transgender and intersex individuals to correct their government documents to reflect their identities because of the cost and in some states a confusing process), insurance companies (including Medicare, Medicaid, Tricare, and VA) refuse to cover gender conforming treatments including surgery, sometimes transgender and intersex individuals are even refused care by physicians and medical staff. What would you propose to correct these wrongs?

 

  • Courtney’s answer: I’m excited about the new TransCare clinic at Planned Parenthood in Cedar Rapids. I talked with Planned Parenthood about the deployment of this clinic. Even a place as progressive as Planned Parenthood needed training for their staff. My wife works as a Chaplain at Unity Point, and is working with their staff on making it a more inclusive environment, including designating gender neutral bathrooms. I support the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, and would also support a Medical Non-Discrimination Act. As far as addressing people by the correct pronouns, we could set aside funds for medical facilities who want to get the training, and add a designation medical facilities could use to identify themselves.

Question 5: Over eight in 10 (85 percent) LGBTQIA students experienced verbal harassment based on a personal characteristic, and nearly two-thirds (66 percent) experienced LGBTQ-related discrimination at school (GLSEN School Climate Survey 2015). Most LGBTQ students report that they’ve heard homophobic remarks (56 percent) and negative remarks about gender expression (64 percent) from school staff (GLSEN School Climate Survey 2015). LGBTQ students who experienced high levels of anti-LGBTQ victimization were twice as likely to report they do not plan to pursue post-secondary education. Also, LGBTQ students who experienced high levels of anti-LGBTQ victimization and discrimination had lower GPAs, lower self-esteem and higher levels of depression (GLSEN School Climate Survey 2015). What would you do to protect LGBTQIA students? Federal Anti-discrimination law?  

  • Courtney’s answer: Federal funding for anti-bullying training for school administrators and teachers. Also, by making college free/cheap, we help the LGBTQIA kids who leave their homes as teenagers. Right now to apply for FAFSA you must enter your parent’s tax information until you’re 25. This means kids running from abusive homes, can’t even get loans for college. Federal funding for anti-bullying training for school administrators and teachers. Also, by making college free/cheap, we help the LGBTQIA kids who leave their homes as teenagers. Right now to apply for FAFSA you must enter your parent’s tax information until you’re 25. This means kids running from abusive homes, can’t even get loans for college.

Question 6: In 20 states and DC prohibit employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. In two other states, they include sexual orientation but not gender identity. In 19 states and DC prohibit discrimination in public accommodations based on sexual orientation and gender identity. In two other states, they include sexual orientation but not gender identity. In 20 states and DC, they prohibit discrimination in housing based on sexual orientation and gender identity. In two other states, the include sexual orientation but not gender identity. What will you do to ensure full federal civil rights for LGBTQIA individuals?

  • Courtney’s answer: I support a fully inclusive ENDA Employment Non-Discrimination Act. We can’t leave out our trans brothers, sisters, and gender non conforming siblings when we pass this legislation.

Question 7: Since 2013, there have been over 200 school shootings in America — an average of nearly one a week (https://everytownresearch.org/school-shootings/). Data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that on an average day, 93 Americans are killed with guns. What gun laws and or reforms do you support?

  • Courtney’s answer: I think most gun laws approach this problem incorrectly. They focus on banning a type of weapon, which isn’t the cause of most gun deaths. We have to look at the people who cause these deaths to correctly address this issue. I propose a ‘Responsible Gun Owner’ law which would focus on gun safety education to address accidental shootings, minimum gun storage standards (all guns should be stored in a safe), gun buy back programs in cities to help remove guns from high crime areas, temporary gun holds for people charged with domestic violence (to prevent the high rate of current/former husband/boyfriend killings/shootings of wives/girlfriends), increased access to mental health care to prevent the high rates of suicide and murder suicides by guns.

Question 8: Do you support comprehensive immigration reform with a path to citizenship?

  • Courtney’s answer: Yes. When people are not documented, they no longer have access to law enforcement to report other crimes. This makes it easier for crime to persist, and it affects everyone. We need to document everyone who is here. If people are here, not criminals, and have established a productive life here, we should document them and get them in the tax system under their own SSN. There should be a path to citizenship for those who meet the above qualifications, but it should not be a direct amnesty program.

Question 9: Do you support the DREAM Act (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors), DAPA (Deferred Action for Parents of Americans), DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), TVDL (Temporary Visitor’s Driver’s License), and UAFA (Uniting American Families Act)?

  • Courtney’s answer: I’m not familiar with the specifics of each of these acts to say I support them in their current form. I support the concepts behind these acts, which is documenting everyone, not punishing people who arrived in this country as children, and not breaking up families by deporting law abiding citizens who are productive members of society.

Question 10: Do you support replacing the minimum wage with a “living wage”?

  • Courtney’s answer: I support a $15 per hour minimum wage.

Question 11: What is your stance on the Trans-Pacific Partnership?

  • Courtney’s answer: I oppose the TPP because it would prevent America from making it’s own laws if they negatively impacted any multi-national corporations profits. It also establishes free trade with not similarly situated nations (Mexico (already there under NAFTA), Malaysia, and the Philippines). Free trade with similarly situated nations (Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan) is a good thing. It expands our economy. However trade with countries with drastically lower wages and few worker protections, creates slave labor countries. This reduces the value of labor in our own country, and allows multi-national corporations to oppress workers in poorer countries. We can trade with these countries, but we need to carefully craft the trade to ensure labor is valued.

Question 12: Do you support “too-big-to-fail” legislation?

  • Courtney’s answer: I support creating a hard barrier between investment and consumer banking. I did support the bailout, because we had to do that to prevent the economy from crashing. Now we need to create the necessary regulations to prevent that situation from occurring in the future.

Question 13: Do you support a 21st Century Glass-Steagall Act?

  • Courtney’s answer: Yes.

Following her answers, I had a couple follow-up questions and here they are.

Question 3 you said, “I support universal single-payer health care. This is the most cost effective way to cover everyone.” I support Medicare for All as well. However, it is something that will take time to get to. Thus, in the meantime what do you propose to curb the cost of prescription drugs? 

  • Courtney’s answer: I support Sen Sanders effort to allow for the importing of prescription drugs from reliable countries, like Canda. I myself am on an autoimmune prescription that costs around $650 per month. In Canada it is only around $100. Furthermore, although I would like to see Medicare for All or Single Payer healthcare, and if elected would work tiresly toward that goal, I would support any legislation that would make healthcare more affordable and accessible to all Americans.
Question 5 you said, “Federal Anti-discrimination law. Federal funding for anti-bullying training for school administrators and teachers. Also, by making college free/cheap, we help the LGBTQIA kids who leave their homes as teenagers. Right now to apply for FAFSA you must enter your parent’s tax information until you’re 25. This means kids running from abusive homes, can’t even get loans for college.” I agree with you. However, I do not support ENDA because of HRC’s debatable ethics of compromising away our rights through religious exemptions. I do support adding “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to the 1964 Civil Rights Act without any religious exemptions in the form of the Equality Act. Would you support such legislation?
  • Courtney’s answer: #5 There have been many versions of the ENDA, which is why it can be hard to offer support of a particular draft of legislation. I think we should be careful in offering religious protection beyond the 1st Amendment. The 1st Amendment already protects religious institutions and offers people the ability to practice their religion. It is important to ensure that the language of a law does not violate the 1st Amendment protections, but we should not attempt to provide additional protection. I personally helped the committee of my denomination, the United Church of Christ, in the wording for our 2015 resolution at Synod against ‘Religious Freedom’ laws that are used to legalize discrimination. This resolution was passed, and the text can be found here:

My responses to her answers.

Question 1: I support what she is saying here but I am unsure if she supports tuition-free debt free college and universities from her answer. It seems to me that she only supports increasing funding to higher education and making community college tuition-free. But again, I am not sure what she is saying.

Question 2: I support and agree with her.

Question 3: I agree with her answer, however, I would hope she also supports adding further regulations on prescription drugs and allowing the federal government (Medicare and Medicaid) to negotiate prescription drug prices.

Question 4: I understand what she is saying. Nonetheless, I would hope that she would require health care professionals to add individuals to be referred to as they prefer including recognising their gender however they identify.

Question 5: I would hope that she supports a fully inclusive federal anti-bullying and anti-harassment bill. Which by the way we do not have.

Question 6: Well, that is great that she supports employment protections and the first amendment allowing religious protections. However, does she support protections in public accommodations, housing, and credit? This all would be provided by the Equality Act which she has not stated whether she supports.

Question 7: I am sorry but guns are not the cause of most gun deaths!? What the hell!? I do support her idea as a ‘Responsible Gun Owner’ law but I still believe that some kinds of guns must be banned, like an assault rifle, and high capacity magazines.

Question 8: I do support an amnesty program, with some restricts for instance on persons who have committed serious crimes. Not drug convictions or traffic violations. I do not believe that having a drug conviction or traffic violation should result in losing your immigration status or citizenship.

Question 9: I am glad that she supports these laws and bills.

Question 10: Awesome! We need more people who support a living wage.

Question 11: I am glad she opposes TPP, but I also am opposed to free trade. It should only be fair trade ensuring equal protections for all workers no matter what country they live in.

Question 12: I was hoping she would be in favor of Sen. Sanders “Too-Big-To-Fail-Too-Big-To-Exist” Act.

Question 13: Awesome!

If you wish to learn more or ask her question please visit her page here: https://www.facebook.com/courtneyroweforcongress/

 

 

 

 

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Why I Left the Democratic Party and Why You Should Too

To put it plainly, the party left me and the people.

The party left us by continuing to ignore the people and what they want. They do this by standing with the same old same old politics of the establishment and corporations at the expense of the working class. Instead of being the party of big ideas as it once was back when they fought for Social Security and Medicare, they are now the party of the status-quo-plus-tweaks.

The party claims to be the party of the people yet they hold their progressive ideas conference at one of Washington, D.C.’s most expensive hotels, the Four Seasons. Then they sell the tickets to said conference at $1,000 and fail to invite one of the most progressive Senators in the U.S., Senator Bernie Sanders or his supporters (The Nation).

The party proclaims to be about getting money out of politics and ending Citizens United, nevertheless, they refuse to take corporations on in the public sphere and wouldn’t return to an Obama-era policy that banned lobbyist money from funding the Democratic National Committee (DNC) (The Guardian). Furthermore, despite the broad support of guaranteeing health care as a right, they still refuse to support single-payer healthcare or sometimes called Medicare-for-All.

The party even says it wants more people to vote and be the voice of the people. Then I wonder why they challenged the open primary system in Hawaii claiming that allowing independents to vote in their primaries was a violation of the party’s constitutional rights (The New York Times). But when the general election comes around they are all too eager to have said independent’s votes to elect their candidates.

And yet party leaders cannot understand why they are losing election after election and the people’s support. According to a recent poll by the Washington Post – ABC News, 67% of Americans believe that the Democratic Party is out of touch with their needs (The Nation).

I am not the only person who is frustrated with the party. There are thousands of us if not millions. We stood up to say we wanted change when we supported Former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley and Senator Bernie Sanders for President and many of us did vote for Hillary Clinton because we understood that Trump should not become President.

Unfortunately, now we need to stand up to change politics as usual inside the Democratic Party because it is not working.

My message to the Democratic Party:

Because you have refused to listen to us, our values, and our ideas. Because you have refused to make us feel welcome or hear our voices, it is time to make you hear by leaving your party.

Your actions have made it quite clear that you do not want us.

Therefore, I, along with many others have left and are leaving the Democratic Party.

2016

 

This past year has been very exciting and challenging. Many events have taken place. Let’s begin with January.

In January, I started working for the Bernie Sanders campaign. On the campaign, I worked under a field organizer to help ensure they met all of their goals. I was working in Iowa on the caucuses where I was based in Council Bluffs and also did organizing in Harrison County.

On February 1st, Sen. Sanders won half the Iowa delegates. Iowa was a tie this was huge news for the Bernie Sanders campaign. The official results were 49.8% for Clinton and 49.6% for Sanders. Therefore, Sen. Sanders won 696.82 state delegates, and Hillary Clinton won 700.9.

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Locally, Pottawattamie County, which was supposed to be a stronghold for Hillary Clinton went to Bernie Sanders, 50.7% to 49%. Further, in my precinct, Council Bluffs 11, it went 62.5% for Sanders and 37.5% for Clinton.

Bernie Sanders had a great showing in Iowa for a long-shot candidate.

Following the Iowa caucuses, I began working in Nebraska on their caucuses as a Field Organizer. During this part of the campaign, I was based in Lincoln. Thus, on the weekends I would spend my time there and weekdays in Council Bluffs organizing in Omaha and Dodge County, NE because I was still a full-time student at Iowa Western Community College.

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After the Nebraska Caucuses, I went back to working in Iowa, but now I was organizing the Sanders campaign participation in the County and District Conventions. We worked to make sure that Sen. Sanders would get a fair representation of the delegation he won on the night of the caucuses.

I also worked in Kansas on their District Conventions doing the same job and in Colorado on their State Convention doing similar work, but I also had the opportunity to monitor the official counting of the ballots and helped with the certification of those ballots as the Sanders, campaign representative.

Moving forward, in June at the Iowa Democratic State Convention, I ran for Democratic National Committee (DNC) member. I did lose the election. Together we won. We won at the state conventions around the nation, in California, Missouri, Nebraska, Texas, and Washington.

Even though I lost, we won, because we won enough votes to show a strong standing against the party establishment demonstrating that we want change.

Specifically, at the Iowa State Convention, we passed one of the most progressive Democratic State platforms.

  • Calling for single-payer healthcare
  • Supporting the death with dignity act
  • Protecting LGBTQIA elders against discrimination
  • Support of health insurance coverage for transgender individuals
  • Support of tuition-free state college and universities
  • Opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership
  • Support of equal human rights for Palestinians and Israelis.
  • Calling for 100% renewable energy by the year 2025.
  • Opposition to fast-tracking trade agreements.

The convention even agreed to a plank calling for the abolishment of superdelegates.

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In July, I officially came out in support of Hillary Clinton. This was after 29 million people voted in the Democratic primary. Bernie Sanders won 1,831 national delegates, 13 million votes, and Hillary Clinton won 2,220 national delegates.

It was an honor to have volunteered and been a staffer for Senator Sanders. Together, we began a revolution to transform American politics and that revolution continues. We fought and are fighting for a government that works and represents us all, not just the one percent.

In August, I moved to the University of Iowa to get my Bachelor’s degree in psychology and perhaps sociology. At the University of Iowa, I have taken the following classes, Behavioral Neuroscience, Clinical Psychology, and Sociological Theory.

However, moving to Iowa City wasn’t all fun because a couple of things happened after I got here. I received terrible news of a friend passing away. Her name was Pauline Beck.

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Pauline was a great person who would do anything for the people she loved. She even had an impact on many lives by her generous heart. She was a friend to many and was like a mother to others.

I first met Pauline the first day she walked into the 2016 Bernie Sanders office in Council Bluffs, Iowa. From that day forward she was in the office nearly every day. She took care of many of the needs of the office, or she would find someone who could. She provided many home cooked meals, cleaned the office, and made many creative decorations.

She is greatly missed by many.

Then we have November where Hillary Clinton won the popular vote but lost the undemocratic Electoral College vote to Donald Trump. We lost the battle but not the war.

On November 10, the vote total was 59,695,628 popular votes and 279 electoral votes for Donald Trump to 59,920,291 popular votes and 228 electoral votes for Hillary Clinton which her lead would grow to nearly 3 million votes.

As a progressive Democrat, I was proud to have voted for Hillary Clinton, and I am deeply saddened by the results of this election.

Even though Democrats did not win back the Senate as expected or gain more seats in the House; Democrats did not lose everything. Just look at the states. In states like California, Nevada, Washington, Colorado, and others they all passed progressive ballot measures.

Arkansas

  • Legalized medical marijuana

California

  • New background checks for ammunition and prohibits possession of large capacity magazines
  • Legalized marijuana for use by adults 21 and over

Colorado

  • Raised the minimum wage
  • Allow terminally ill patients to end their life with assistance of a doctor

Maine

  • Legalized marijuana for use by adults 21 and over
  • Raised the minimum wage

Massachusetts

  • Legalized the possession of marijuana

Montana

  • Legalized medical marijuana

Nevada

  • Expanded gun background checks
  • Legalized marijuana

North Dakota

  • Legalized medical marijuana

Washington

  • Increased the minimum wage

14956434_1272438012819316_4901109538472250760_nAdditionally, in November Blair Lawton announced that he would run for Chair of the Iowa Democratic Party and I threw my support behind him.

I support Blair for the position because of his experience working on campaigns and his ideas on how to rebuild our party. Blair believes in contesting every legislative race and spending less time courting big donors and more time building grassroots donations from activists.

20160412_114409On December 5, I announced my candidacy for Vice-Chair of the Iowa Democratic Party. The election will be held on January 21.

I am running for Vice-chair because I want to give back to the party that has fought for my civil rights and fights for health care for all. I am running because I want to rebuild the party.

My passion stems from the fact that I know that if I want to have rights, I need to step up and fight for them.

Half of the year, I have been fighting for health insurance because the Social Security Administration decided that I am no longer medically disabled. However, the issue is that they not only want me to go to work which is fine but they terminated my health insurance, and I am left to my own devices to find health insurance. Meaning that I must find health insurance that will cover my medications including anti-rejection and cystinosis medications, which add up quickly, one of the drugs alone Procysbi cost over $63,000 for a 30-day supply.

This on-going battle with the Social Security Administration is quite stressful and demeaning. Especially because of the psychological evaluation, an enormous amount of paperwork, and calls I have endured during the last six months.

Participating in a psychological evaluation to determine if one need help through the Social Security Administration can be hurtful and demeaning especially when the psychologist has their biases against the client.

From the beginning, she was expecting a male and instead got me. On top of that, I was involved with the Democratic party.

Therefore, reading her evaluation makes one feel inferior and worthless. Specifically, in the evaluation notes, she states, “She appeared to be low average intellectual ability,” and she did this without doing any intelligence assessments. But we cannot forget how she calls me male several times.

How would I rate 2016?

The first part of the year was awesome I was full of hope and energy but as the year went on that energy and hope drained.

Currently, I have little hope for a better future, and my energy is draining fast. This is because of these recent events with Hillary Clinton losing, Democrats losing control of the Senate in Iowa, not gaining control of the U.S. Senate, and not to forget this on-going battle that I keep fighting with the Social Security Administration. I seem to be losing this fight, and I keep getting this feeling that hits me in the gut, it feels like I’ve already been defeated.

Nevertheless, with the hope I have, I will fight on!

Sen. Sanders the New Democratic Party Leader

Photo Credit: Washington Times
Photo Credit: Washington Times

Sen. Bernie Sanders lost the 2016 Democratic Party presidential primary. However, he has emerged from the general election loses as a new Democratic Party leader. He is concerned with rebuilding and growing the Democratic Party.

I stand with Sen. Sanders in his effort in doing this!

The Democratic Party has become a party more concerned with raising money from wealthy individuals than they have been about bringing working people into the party and taking on the billionaire class, taking on Wall Street, taking on drug companies or the insurance companies – Sen. Sanders (Garver)

Therefore, Bernie believes that the party must have a “fundamental reassessment.” He believes that the Democratic Party cannot continue to dependent on wealthy donors and big money interests.

Instead, he thinks that the party must reorient themselves to the electorate and stand in strong opposition to President-elect Trump’s oppressive policies.

Additionally, Bernie believes that there must be a change in the leadership of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and he is supporting Representative Keith Ellison for DNC Chair.

Rep. Keith Ellison is a leader of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and was a supporter of Sen. Sanders during the primary. He has gained the endorsements of Sen. Bernie Sanders, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, Sen. Charles Schumer, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Sen. Chris Murphy, Rep. Raul Grijalva, Rep. G.K. Butterfield, Rep. Joseph Crowley, and New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman (Washington Post).

Join the movement: Keith for DNC

Blair Lawton for IDP Chair

14956434_1272438012819316_4901109538472250760_nThe 2016 general election was bad for Democrats, and we lost, and we lost big. We lost control of both houses of Congress and the presidency. Here in Iowa, we lost control of the House and Senate again.

Many people feel down and want to give but we cannot. Now is the time to stand up and fight back. Now is the time to create real change in the Democratic Party.

Moving forward, I believe that we must listen to the voices of the youth, which are the next generation of Democrats. We must work to bring in new people into our party and gain the trust of those first-time caucus and primary voters who voted for Sen. Bernie Sanders but then left the party when they felt that their voices were unheard and their opinions were not valued in the general election.

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Therefore, we must elect new leadership and hold people accountable at all levels. This is why I am supporting Blair Lawton for Iowa Democratic Party (IDP) Chair.

Blair is a campaign staffer who has worked on the Obama, Sanders, and Mowrer campaigns.

This election showed that the IDP needs a renewed focus on building the party from the grassroots up. To me, that means getting serious about organizing in rural areas. It means contesting every legislative race, as well as spending less time courting big donors and more time cultivating donations from grassroots activists – said Blair Lawton.

I support Blair for Chair because he has a history of being a professional campaign organizer and he knows how to bring people together. This is what we need to rebuild our party and to start winning elections again.

To join the campaign like the Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/blair4chair/
Sign up to volunteer here: Sign Up!