Slides Framework


Ed Peterson for Congress, Iowa's Fourth District

• Why are you running?

First and foremost, because I believe God wants me to. (For atheists and skeptics, consider it a strong, recurring nagging feeling.) Beyond that, I feel that the two-party system is tearing our country apart. I see almost nothing from either party but opposition to the other and allegations of grandstanding. I first learned of George Washington's thoughts on political parties in high school, reading about his farewell speech. I saw the truth of what he said and made the decision to be independent. That has only changed once, briefly, for the purpose of participating in the Caucus process. Throughout my adult life, I've only watched the situation grow worse exactly as Washington warned.

• Why should I vote for you?

If you have to ask that, do me a favor and vote for someone else. If another candidate more closely represents your ideology, you should probably vote for that candidate. But if, like me, you believe the US can only become the nation it was intended to be by throwing off the shackles of party divisiveness and finding our common ground, I'm willing to take that message to Washington.

• Do you really think you can win?

All conventional thought would say no, but I think anything is possible. While I was gathering signatures for nomination, I talked with many people who agreed that our biggest problem is representatives in Washington arguing or otherwise not working toward common ground. Many others saw wisdom in confronting that problem as soon as possible. With the thought resonating with so large a group of people, I do believe I can win. The biggest factors will be whether people who want to see this type of change make an effort to vote, and whether voters will be as opposed to one party or the other as are so many politicians such that they make what they think is the safe vote.

• Aren’t you just splitting (or complicating) the vote?

This idea, valid or not, was one reason I deliberated so long before committing to pursue my nomination and subsequent campaign. The fact is, the idea that a third candidate might split or confuse a vote is evidence that our current system is failing us. It is why there are many voters pushing for alternatives, such as ranked choice voting. Indeed, several areas are adopting methods to eliminate the chance of a spoiled vote.

But I believe that rather than taking votes away from either candidate, most who vote for me will be voters who have become so frustrated with current politics, that they otherwise wouldn’t vote at all. In other words, I don’t think I will be taking votes from anyone, but adding voters to the pool.

Too few people are going to be motivated to vote if the only options are more of the same partisanship that has been going on for as long as I can remember. It seems to me that the best way to defeat either side is to motivate the voters with a fresh perspective--a candidate who can't hold to a party line because he isn't a member of a party.

• How much of a difference can your vote make amidst the partisanship in Washington?

I think it depends on how you look at it. A single vote promoting an ideology is quite limited in its effectiveness. But back that vote with common sense and a commitment to find common ground solutions, instead of consistently opposing anything backed by the other party, and that vote becomes a voice of much needed reason.

Add to that the fact that there is an increasing number of candidates who have chosen not to belong to a party--which will constantly pressure them into voting with the party that backed them--and there is the potential for a block of voters putting people and country over party.

There are three No Party candidates in Iowa alone, only District 1 lacks one. The more representatives we have in Washington standing between the two major parties, the more effective they will be at standing against partisanship. If neither of the two major parties has a majority and has to appeal to representatives in the center in order to be able to pass legislation, common sense can again prevail.

On top of all that, we tell voters that every vote matters, each vote makes a difference. Isn’t the same true in Washington where that vote is one of hundreds, rather than thousands?

• What is your plan for immigration?

We are a diverse district, and our diversity adds richness to our lives. I believe in the divine creation of each human being and honor the contributions of each constituent. Our rural, agricultural economy depends on workers who are recent immigrants, and I would work to create a navigable, sensible, efficient path to citizenship for the hard-working, law-abiding people who arrive in our area seeking a better life. I believe Dreamers/DACA, among whom there are no felons, deserve a chance to make it here, in the only nation they know. I believe we are called to serve others with compassion, and yes, that service includes some risks. I respect the people of all backgrounds and nationalities in our district and seek to help create a more inclusive community in the Fourth District and across the nation. I would improve the rhetoric about immigrants and non-white people to be just and inclusive.

• But what about those who come here illegally?

I trust our current immigration system to continue to protect us. Some problems have arisen lately that have caused concerns and need to be corrected, but overall, the system is effective and only requires better oversight. I oppose building a wall, because it doesn’t address the problem of people entering our country illegally. History has shown us that walls, unless they entirely surround a protected area and are heavily guarded, actually prevent little of the activity they are meant to stop. The most famous wall (Great Wall of China) proved more than once that it didn't stop outsiders from entering. And our most notable wall in recent times (Berlin) was known to have many ways to smuggle goods or people across. Logistically, because of where we would have to build if we did, many US citizens would find themselves between the wall and the actual border. Add in the cost of a wall and we have a situation where it is not fiscally responsible.

• Should we accept refugees?

I believe we have the means to include in our society anyone who wishes to be a positive part of it. I believe the words of the Statue of Liberty still ring true:

Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

I have read a description of the vetting process for refugees and believe that they pose no danger to us; if someone wanted to come here with terrorist intentions, coming as a refugee is perhaps the most difficult and most time-intensive way to do so.

• What are your thoughts on abortion?

I believe few women view abortion as a good thing. Many abortions could be prevented by equal economic opportunities and improved access to birth control. I do not believe we ought to waste time and effort advocating either for or against federal laws on the issue, and laws don’t prevent abortions. Statistics from Western Europe have shown that areas with less restriction on abortion actually have lower abortion rates, and some of the most restrictive countries have higher rates. I do care about the unborn; my wife, Amy, was adopted as an infant after being born to two teenagers, and grew up in a good adoptive home. I believe our society is better off when we create a better world to bring children into, when those from all walks of life have the opportunity to survive on the wages from their hard work, and when laws reflect a more family-friendly world. And I have seen statistics support this belief.

• What should be done about LGBTQ issues, including gay marriage?

Whether I agree or disagree with views on either side of this issue is immaterial. There is no legitimate reason to prevent marriage or discriminate in any other way against those who are different than I am and no real potential for harm to society that would necessitate legislation on the issue. I do not believe government should discriminate against individuals, organizations or small businesses because of a belief that marriage is only a union of one man and one woman. I do believe there is a distinction between marriage in a church/before God and the civil union of a government marriage license. I do not believe the federal government needs to be involved in personal decisions such as marriage and family, and that there is no provision in the Constitution for government to control such matters.

• Should we raise the minimum wage?

I agree with President Franklin D Roosevelt when he said, "No business which depends for existence on paying less than living wages to its workers has any right to continue in this country...By living wages, I mean more than a bare subsistence level - I mean the wages of a decent living." I further believe that contrary to the fear that this would cause a burden which would force many businesses to shut down, that FDR was correct in his assessment that, "The best customer of American industry is the well-paid worker." The result then of the American worker making a decent living is that industry would actually expand in the US and not only would the economy improve, but tax revenue would also increase.

Furthermore, according to the Pew Research Center, 52 percent of American voters approve of increasing the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $15 per hour. If constituents in the Fourth District agree, I would push for the increase. I believe the fear of CEO’s and business owners, that the increase would present an undue burden, to be unsupported by evidence. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, given how rich the U.S. is, “one would expect America…to pay a minimum wage around $12 an hour.” There are economic challenges, but at our core, we are still a rich nation and I believe people should benefit from it. The federal minimum wage peaked in 1968, with dollars adjusted to 2016 numbers, and it has lost nearly 10 percent of its purchasing power. Too many hourly workers earning minimum wage are not teenagers anymore, but are 25 to 34 years old, often saddled with educational debt, and unable to see a path to owning a home or raising a family.

• What about the problems with health insurance?

In a free society like the U.S., no one should lose their lives or livelihood because of a health issue. I support separating health insurance from one’s job. Employers should not be taking time away from their jobs of meeting the goals and objectives of their companies in order to deal with health insurance. Nor should workers need to worry about how their coverage would change if they lose their jobs. With studies showing a single payer system actually costing less than what the current system costs, it is time to start moving to such a system.

• What do you propose to do about the deficit?

To start, we can and must balance the national budget, and we owe it to you, the taxpayers, to work toward it. I would propose a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution, work with economists to find ways to reduce our debt to other nations like China, and reduce the deficit. There may be times when a dire situation requires the nation to spend more than it brings in, and such a provision should be provided for in the amendment, but such a situation would be rare and should be avoided.

• How would this happen?

We must end wasteful practices in government and the military. We must find a way to end the practice of using the entire budgeted allowance to avoid losing the surplus in future years. We must stop believing that giving tax breaks to large corporations and billionaires makes an appreciable difference the economy or that a tax break of that kind pays for itself.

• What are your views on education?

First, I believe that a good education is fundamental to well-informed, responsible public, which in turn is necessary for well-thought votership. The shortage of teachers and many disincentives for strong, bright individuals to go into preschool-grade 12 education is affecting our children and our future. I support funding for more grants, scholarships, loan forgiveness, mortgage down payment assistance, graduate education assistance and more for college and university students pursuing teaching licensure.

I believe college and university students should not be seen as profit centers by banks and loan companies. In today’s reality of work, some post-high-school education is necessary for nearly everyone, and I believe pursuing higher education should not come with a financial burden. I support directing funds for public Pre-K through 14 education, an investment from our society into the employability and futures of our young adults, and increased opportunity for scholarships and grants to cover education in four-year programs and graduate education.

Further, we need to find ways to close the skills gap. This in part means expanding tech school programs, but we also need to find incentives for employers to bring back apprentice programs so future skilled workers can learn a trade directly from trained workers already in the field.

• Do you support the death penalty?

I don’t trust a government that executes its own citizens. Federal death row has many convicts who have waited for 15 to 20 years or even longer. While I understand the need for justice for the most heinous crime, the federal death penalty system is broken. Until we fix our federal judicial system to make justice more expedient, I don’t believe crime victims, survivors, or citizens benefit from federal death row as it is now.

• Do you support the Second Amendment?

I absolutely believe in the right of the people to bear arms, but I dislike that 50 years ago the NRA changed direction from being little more than a gun club, to entering the political realm. In doing so they changed the way America interpreted the 2nd Amendment. We must rethink what it means to have a "well-regulated militia". I believe it starts with requiring firearm education for all gun owners and encouraging it for everyone. Not one of the recent mass shootings would have been prevented through enhanced gun legislation. The shooting at Virginia Tech proved that a determined person will simply use whatever option is easiest to implement.

I do not favor restricting gun ownership among the majority of non-violent, law-abiding citizens. The second amendment, however, was never meant to support unrestricted gun ownership and use. I would not be part of shutting down the vital conversation about gun violence in this nation. There are measures available that would keep guns out of the hands of people who set out to do harm, if we just had the courage to pursue them.

I do not support limiting any type of firearm, besides those already limited by automatic weapons bans. Nor do I support limiting accessories, other than bump stocks and increased capacity magazines (higher capacity than what came with the gun), which I believe ought to be included in the automatic weapons bans already in place.

• Then how will we reduce gun injury? How will we keep guns away from criminals?

First, I believe gun education would go a long way toward reducing the problem in the same way that vehicle education reduces vehicular injury. I don't believe in gun accidents, I believe in negligence. And just as negligence with a vehicle results in restricted vehicular rights, negligence with a firearm should result in restricted gun rights.

Second, I support universal background checks for gun purchasers, and common sense privacy laws to allow mental healthcare providers to communicate with law enforcement in risky situations. Alongside that, I support licensing guns in a manner similar to how we license vehicles, along with each gun's "ballistic fingerprint". This would allow law enforcement to trace where a gun used in a crime came from. The question would no longer be, "Why do you need an AR-15?" Or, "Why do you need 20 handguns?" Because as long as it is licensed, it wouldn't matter.

• Should we support Israel?

I first want to be very authentic and say a stance on Israel in no way reflects one's honor of God or lack of honor of God. And further that we should not confuse modern Israel with Biblical Israel. War, including the ongoing warfare between Israel and Palestine, is about money. I would vote for or against appropriations for Israel on a case by case basis and with input from you, the constituents, about whether you believe it is a good use of your tax money.

• And speaking of war--

War is about money at its core. Whenever I have heard the opinions of veterans, they say government should exhaust every other avenue of resolving an issue before sending our service members to fight a war. I support pursuing all avenues of diplomacy before engaging in war. Once we have crossed that line, however, we need to be ready to fully serve our veterans. It's a disgrace that we still have homeless veterans and so many living in poverty. It's unacceptable that families are being torn apart because veterans are not getting adequate treatment for PTSD. If we can place a state-of-the-art weapon in their hands, we can give them complete access to state-of-the-art treatment for their physical and mental injuries, provide support for their families who have also sacrificed, and honor their service. We must keep the promises made to them of educational and other support. We honor them best by not inventing so many wars for them to fight in.