Radio Free Resistance is proud to publish transcripts of the “10 Questions” series by @CaptainsLog2O18
10 Questions with Justin Kanew – with Guest Host @StormResist
Justin is a candidate for US House of Representative, Tennessee District 07
JK: Great to talk to you, too, Storm. The trail has been great. We’ve been to all 19 counties in this gerrymandered district, raised close to $200K, have over 500 volunteers, and we’re poised to ride this #Bluenami and get this district back in the hands of the people of TN7.
S: What an amazing start to this campaign! Let's jump right into the questions!
Q1: There are a record number of Democratic candidates running this year, what inspired YOU to run for office? #TN7
JK: I get asked this a lot. “What’s your why?” She’s right here Storm. That’s the short answer. The longer answer is, I never intended to do this. It wasn’t the plan. But after the election a little over a year ago (feels like 10), I had a thought I think a lot of people had, “What can I do to keep this country heading in a positive direction for our kids?” My thoughts turned to Marsha Blackburn, our Rep here in #TN7, and I decided I would go help whoever was running against her. Problem was they didn’t exist. I couldn’t sit by and watch Blackburn get another free pass. I had done a lot of talking, it was time to put my money where my mouth was. My wife is a fighter also, so we decided it was worth it. We jumped in in July, and here we are. Blackburn is what got me started, but what keeps me going are the people we meet on the trail every day. Middle Tennessee is a special place, where people care about each other. This is our home, and it deserves to have someone who embodies that spirit representing it.
S: Q2: The country is reeling this week after yet another mass shooting. What sort of gun control legislation would you support to keep our children safe? #TN7
JK: It’s horrible. The next morning, I dropped my daughter off at daycare and had to ask her teachers if the glass door was bulletproof. This can’t be acceptable to anyone. Inaction is unconscionable and anyone who thinks otherwise has no place in public office. There are a lot of things I would support, things most Americans want. Universal background checks, close the gun show loophole, close the domestic violence loophole, stop people who have committed hate crimes from buying guns, and a big one, end the gun violence research ban at the CDC. Even ex-GOP Rep. Dickey, whose name is on the amendment, REGRETS IT! I’ve heard a lot of other ideas and I’m all ears. We can’t do nothing. We can’t let all these victims have died in vain. I also believe there’s a mental health aspect to this, especially in our schools. My wife is a behavioral therapist for kids with mental health issues in Rutherford county. Teachers should be trained on behavior and mental health and we MUST invest in more specialists. The bottom line is we need to be thinking PREVENTATIVELY. And inaction is a disqualifying position to take I’d also point out that my likely opponent, Mark Green, has been completely silent about Parkland. Not even a tweet of empathy. As a potential constituent it frightens me.
S: Q3: Breaking news yesterday saw indictments alleging Russian interference in our elections. This included a Russian backed twitter account posing as the Tennessee GOP with thousands of followers. What would you do to protect the integrity of our elections? #TN7
JK: This is a huge issue. We’re drifting further away from democracy. First of all, we need these platforms to take a hard look in the mirror. Twitter is my 2nd home but if they’re letting bots run wild to help their active user numbers, they need to be held accountable for that. I’m also committed to pushing back against these blatant GOP voter suppression efforts that disenfranchise people, especially minority voters. They know they’re losing an entire generation so instead of changing their message, they’ve decided to make it harder to vote. It’s shameful. We need fair districting. We need to stop racial gerrymandering, get dark money out of our politics, and overturn Citizens United. I’ve pledged to take no corporate PAC money, and I implore voters on both sides of the aisle to support candidates not in the pockets of special interests. But yes, what Russia did is very concerning, and wanting to impose sanctions as congress already voted for overwhelmingly, and punish them, to guard against it happening again this year, should NOT be a partisan issue.
S: What is #AKanewDeal and why should it be important to Tennesseans?
JK: Very glad you asked. Nobody trusts congress anymore. We feel our government is putting donors over voters, because they are. “The Kanew Deal” is a pledge not to take special interest money, so people know I’m putting the people of Tennessee first. Everywhere I go, I say “it’s not about left vs. right, it’s about right vs. wrong” and I believe it. We have far more in common than we realize. The true dividing line in this country is between the few special interests who own these politicians and the people. It’s time to put country over party, get past this extremism and division, and realize we’re all in this thing together. The only people benefitting from the climate of anger right now are the big donors. The Kanew Deal is to show whose side I’m on: The People’s.
S: Agreed! We need representation that is for people, not donors. One of the issues facing the nation and TN in particular is an opioid public health crisis partially brought on by drug lobbyists.
Q5: What should be done to address this crisis? #TN7
JK: This comes up everywhere I go. Tennessee struggles with this as much as any other state. There’s a lot we need to do but first, thinking locally, we need to expand Medicaid here in Tennessee like our Republican Governor Haslam wanted to. The money recently allocated to fight it is a start but not expanding Medicaid here left $4 BILLION out of our state that could’ve been used to fight the opioid crisis and many thousands have suffered. My likely opponent, state Senator Mark Green, is on the hook for that. We also need to be thinking preventatively and devoting resources to mental health facilities rather than over-imprisoning addicts and a BIG thing is to hold drug dealers disguised as pharmaceutical distributors accountable for what they’ve done. I’m appalled at the role Blackburn played in making it harder for the DEA to fight the crisis. Her Big Pharma donors should face a reckoning for wittingly allowing this to happen the same way Big Tobacco did. Without accountability nothing changes.
S: Thank you! Switching gears a bit now, a large portion of your district is rural TN.
Q6: In your district, broadband internet is not available to many. Why is this important and what legislation would you support to increase access? #TN7
JK: Rural broadband is important for the same reason telephones were important. Without it our rural communities, will be left behind in every aspect. We’ve been paying lip service to it for too long, we need to do something about it. I would support and push for a national rural broadband program that ensures everyone in this country has real access to the internet. We did it with phones, we can do it here too. It’s an investment we need to make, it will serve as a jobs program also. It has to happen. We get told these things are pie in the sky, meanwhile the GOP just put $1.5 Trillion mostly in the pockets of corporations and the wealthy. When I think of the other things we could’ve done with that money to give our economy a boost, I cringe. Rural broadband is a must.
S: Q7: There is a lot of talk about a “living wage”. Do you support an increase to the minimum wage? #TN7
JK: I absolutely support a minimum wage increase. The best way to create better jobs is to turn bad jobs into decent ones by paying people properly. We can have an adult discussion about what the number should be and it can be different in Giles County than Seattle but #RaiseTheWage
$7.25 is a joke. People can’t live on that. Meanwhile, the same people who fight a wage increase want to cut food stamps, Medicaid, housing; it is nothing short of a war on the poor. We need representatives who will call it for what it is and stand up to it. As a union member myself, I support unions and their push to make sure working families are paid properly and have a seat at the table. Wages need to come up because the economy grows from the middle out, not when it “trickles down”. We are the real job creators. I’ll close this one with a quote I heard from a CEO in Nebraska during Romney-Obama: “Give me customers, I’ll create jobs. Give me a tax cut, I’ll take my wife to Aruba.” We need customers. We create those by paying people properly. This should not be a partisan issue.
S: Q8: Immigration and DACA are hot topics right now. Tennessee has many immigrants, both documented and undocumented. What would you support in immigration policies?
JK: Just to set the table here, I’m the son of an immigrant and the grandson of two people who survived the Holocaust. I believe what truly makes this country “great” is that we have every single kind of person living in one big melting pot. Diversity is a strength. I understand illegal immigration is an important issue and don’t discount the anger some American workers have towards people who are here without documentation. We need strong borders and so I would support a deal to strengthen borders in exchange for helping the DREAMers. That said, I find the fearmongering and hostage-taking awful. If those behind it were serious about solving the problem rather than just running campaigns on the issue, they would go after the companies who hire those who have come here for the work. The work is the magnet. But going after those companies (their donors) in a real way would implode the economy and they know it. If we deported 11 million people tomorrow, the economy would collapse. So instead they fearmonger, arrest fathers, teachers. As the grandson of holocaust survivors, it’s chilling.
S: It's frightening and we need strong leaders that will stand up for immigrants and citizens.
Q9: Women’s rights for equal pay and reproductive rights are a concern to many in the US and in your district as well. What policies and laws do you support to address these areas?
JK: I support equal pay. Period. Full stop. I also support women’s reproductive rights, again like many things, this is about thinking preventatively rather than reactively. Investing in education, contraception, support resources, expanding Medicaid, community health centers. Cutting resources for these important programs put women, especially low-income women and minorities, in difficult situations. This is a civil rights issue as much as anything else. We should be supporting and empowering women, not taking their rights away.
TS: Absolutely! Last Question!
Q10: What is one issue we haven’t covered today that is an important one affecting your district?
JK: The one thing I want to talk about here is legalizing medical marijuana. This is something we need to do for health care reasons, for economic reasons, for racial inequality reasons, and for our veterans. The American Legion talks about it constantly. I met a Trump-supporting veteran who had been addicted to opioids, became a vegetable, got off them, now supports me as a one issue voter who wants medical marijuana legalized. If we can help even one veteran, we owe it to them. This administration is taking us backwards.
S: Thank you so much for joining me today! I appreciate you taking the time to share your platform. Where can people learn more about your campaign and how to support it?
JK: Enjoyed it storm, thank you. Please ask the resistance to kick in a few bucks to help us wrench this district back from special interests https://secure.actblue.com/donate/kanew-for-congress-1
Follow Donna Noble at @DonnaNoble10th.