What does being a "Centrist" mean to you, and why did you get involved?
Being a "Centrist" means that you are not obligated to align with either side of the white-collar gang warfare mentality that has become our political landscape. There are more than two choices for almost every scenario and there are hundreds of issues that citizens care about so there are thousands of viable combinations that represent Americans - not just two.
Being a "Centrist" means that you are willing to genuinely listen and learn, but you are also willing to speak up for what is right and you are willing to make the hard choice.
Being a "Centrist" means that some groups of people might be far left or far right, but all people deserve to be represented and legitimately listened to by their government.
Most importantly, I believe being a "Centrist" means a return to being a Democracy where the people rule, where the needs of the people come first, and where becoming a politician means answering the call of a public servant and not a self-benefiting quest of personal ambition.
What is a policy issue you are passionate about and why?
I have several policy issues I am passionate about, but most personal to me is healthcare reform. My wife is a type 1 diabetic/T1D/juvenile diabetic. T1D is a genetic condition. No matter how good of care she takes of herself, and she takes excellent care of herself, if she doesn't get access to insulin and proper treatment devices for every single meal then she could go in to a coma and die. People often mistakenly think T1D is similar to type 2 diabetes, but it is far closer to the idea of a lethal allergic reaction to nuts that requires an EpiPen whenever nuts are consumed and there are nuts in every single meal.
The first part of this reform touches prescriptions. Insulin is a 100 year-old medicine, yet my wife is charged roughly $1,000 for each insulin prescription. Needles, glucose meters, test strips, insulin delivery devices, continuous-glucose-monitoring (CGM) devices - medical device and prescription companies charge ludicrous amounts of money for all of them (and all cost only a few dollars in many other 1st world countries). However, these items will often times cost as little as a third as much if you pay cash. A practice that drives up insurance rates and falsely represents the notion of having 70, 80, or 90% of the cost covered by insurance.
Secondly, by mandating that every American have health insurance, every health insurance company has become an extension of the government, yet while we all must pay, we have no say in what they must offer. How is that not taxation without representation?
We need severe insurance reform, but we first and foremost need to decide who we are as a country, because there are really only variations of two conceptual options. One of America's key principles was giving everyone the chance to succeed, but that also means the chance to fail and suffer the consequences of that failure. On the other hand, if you remove the risks of failure then it is mathematically impossible not to equally limit the potential for success. Do we stick to our founding principles and allow those who either risk and fail or who simply choose poorly to the ends that private society would slate for them or do we burden the responsible and the prosperous with the mandatory obligation of the debt incurred by the less fortunate?
Of course there are variations of how to answer the question (do we force opioid manufacturers and distributors to pay for treatment centers, the biggest producers of unhealthy foods pay for obesity treatments, make social media pay for anti-depressants - just kidding... well, half kidding) and I think every American agrees that some form of assistance during hard times is appropriate, but the core answer of whether healthcare for the self-inflicted unfortunate person is a right or an individual responsibility is one we should make as a nation.
Inversely, healthcare for the faultless-unfortunate cannot be a question. We are not ancient Sparta where the weak or crippled were put to death - this is the United States of America. American citizens already burdened with chronic illnesses or conditions should not also be forced in to poverty because of their ill luck nor should the determination of whether or not they have access to proper healthcare be determined by the completely uncorrelated attribute of working for the right corporation.
I own my own business and although we aren't rich, I do well for my family, yet my wife is forced to work at a Starbucks coffee shop. Every insurance company is cancelling the individual insurance plans that will give her the medical coverage she needs to maintain a healthy lifestyle as a Type 1 Diabetic. We paid over $30,000 last year and will again in 2017 for health insurance, prescriptions and appointments and now, if she doesn't get a job with a large corporation, she will receive substandard medical care or we will likely pay $50,000-60,000 or more after out of pocket expenses in 2018. We have had no gaps in insurance, we are four healthy individuals, and we have had no major incidences, but this is what our current government policy puts upon us. She can no longer work with me in my business, she cannot be a volunteer, she can't start her own business or work part time, and she can't be a stay-at-home mom for our children. There are millions of families in a similar situation and they are all now truly and completely sincerely a prisoner of the business man if they want proper healthcare. That is not freedom, that is not justice, that is not equality, that is not a democratically decided policy and that isn't right.
How do you think we can unite our country and fix our politics?
By becoming a Democracy and making people believe that politics isn't a lost cause anymore. Get people in to office who believe political office is a public service. Get big private money out of elections, clean up the campaign process, institute Ranked Choice Voting and put the power back in the people's hands. Most importantly, unite the middle. They can relate to the left and the right and can facilitate conversation that should increase the wisdom of our leadership and represent a greater portion of America.
Anything else you'd like to add?
Help me help you (Jerry Maguire).