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Interview With Violet Rae, Chair of The Rose Caucus

Posted on February 15th, 2020 in Interview by James Deal
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Violet Rae is the Chair and a founder of the Rose Caucus. She worked on the Joshua for Congress 2020 campaign before founding the Rose Caucus, helping to support and elect democratic socialists, socialists, and leftists to public office.

Violet RaeCourtesy: Violet Rae

Can you give me a little bit of background about yourself?

Let's see…

I was a socialist in 2012, because everyone kept trying to get me to vote for Obama. I didn't vote for him in his first election, and I didn't vote his second term either. People were asking, "Why? Why?", So I did research because he seemed like everybody else, [like] every other politician. Turns out, I was correct about him being an imperialist early on, and so, when everybody else was voting for Obama and getting active, I just wasn't feeling it.

Then I saw Bernie speak at Liberty University, (I wasn't there, I saw a video online that my partner at the time had shown to me) and he was talking about how it's really easy to talk to people who agree with you, but it is just as important to talk to people who don't, to see where you find middle ground. This was a conservative christian college, so he didn't really have a lot of friends in the room, but by the end of the speech they're on their feet, and they're clapping for him. It was a truly powerful speech if you haven't seen it.

Bernie Sanders giving a speech. Courtesy: Vidar Nordli-Mathisen on Unsplash Courtesy: Vidar Nordli-Mathisen/Unsplash

I think I have. Yeah, it was really good. That's one thing I love about Bernie is that.

That was my first come to politics moment, where I started getting really involved- and obviously I voted for him in 2016; my first time voting in the primaries. But of course, I didn't get to vote for him for president 'cause...

 

Unfortunately, yeah the DNC does not like to play fair with us.

They do not.

 

No… And I think it's becoming more and more obvious. In 2016 you could've argued that it was just a few people in power at the DNC, like DWS (Debbie Wasserman Schultz). And now with Tom Perez, it's becoming more clear that it's still an issue.

So after that? It was probably about a year and three, or four months ago; it was October, I think, of 2018. I went out to Bloomington, Indiana to see Bernie speak at Dunn Meadow, for Liz Watson; he was stumping for her. She didn't end up winning, but he came out and the crowd turnout was massive.

We got there a little early and parked a way away, by the old Union Memorial building. We weren't expecting it, but I came upon Nina Turner, far away from where they were supposed to be speaking, and I immediately looked around for Bernie, but didn't see him.

I took some time to talk to Nina, and that was where it all happened! She was really normal and down to earth and she talked to me about my family, my motivations, and just a little bit about politics. It wasn't anything really important, other than she took the time out of her day to encourage me? and said something along the lines of, "just hang in there." And, I don't know if you've ever met Nina or seen her speak…

 

I've not met her, but I've seen her.

I walked away from that interaction feeling like I was carrying a little bit of that energy with me. From there I just really dug in my heels and I started saying, "okay, just shoot your shot; just try." I started to get really active on Twitter. I went from 120 followers to I think I'm approaching 11,000 today [Violet's account is now approaching 11.5k followers,! and growing] and that was just for posting about stuff that I cared about.

I got my job with Joshua with a tweet, where I just tweeted, "@berniesanders, @mikegravel, and @joshuaforcongress, here's my resume," and it was this thread from my old employer talking about the skills that I brought to the table. Joshua replied, "oh, I wish we had the money to hire you," and I responded, "did you read the hashtag?" I think it said, "#IWantToMakeChangeMoreThanIWantToMakeMoney," so I volunteered. I wasn't paid for the first several months until the campaign really took root, and we were all able to get paid.

VioletCourtesy: @RaeRevived

I worked with Joshua until January 20th. I still work for him in web & art, but I'm no longer directing staff. When we founded the Rose Caucus, I didn't want any potential conflicts of interest to come up, and it felt like the morally correct thing, to step down out of the directing staff position so that I could better serve the Caucus.

 

You announced that you were going to be running for the House of Representatives in 2022, right?

Yeah, I'm going to be running in Virginia. I can't tell you where yet, mostly because we still have our oppo & research team, trying to decide where I'll be the most viable ,and in the best position to actually create change, and advocate for the people's platform, which is what the whole slate is behind and pushing for.

 

How did you find consensus when writing the platform and how did you choose which ideas to address?

Okay, so the platform actually comes straight from the Collins' campaign originally. It was Joshua's platform that he and his team of directing staff sat down and put together, but it wasn't just us that wrote it. We actually went and talked to people that would be impacted by different issues, the people that would be directly living with the results, if we managed to get these ideas out there. Rather than deciding for these people, we talked to them, we brought them in on the process and created our planks from that.

So really how we decided what the most important issue was, was: first, "what issues are important to us?" We're all politically active, we're all engaged and informed, so "What are the things that we're struggling with the most?"

Well, capitalism is still number one, but there are a lot of issues that are intersectional, that we all care about, and it just sort of formed around that.

 

That makes sense. Obviously having the people those issues impact most directly involved in the process is critical. I think that's something that's missing from a lot of establishment candidates on both sides of the aisle. They're so out of touch; they haven't been in the working class since they were elected, which is problematic obviously.

It's also important to talk to people who don't necessarily look like us. So when it comes to climate, we take our cues from the indigenous tribes in our area, in Tacoma and other places around the country, who have a lot to say. These people have been the leading climate activists before most of society caught on to there even being a problem. Obviously, these are the experts, so we should be deferring to them and listening to what they have to say.

 

One criticism I'm sure you've heard of progressives is that conservative communities would 'never embrace' the progressive agenda. What do you think the best way to reach out  to those communities is?

Relational organizing.

Here's the thing; I have received more pushback personally, when talking about this stuff, from liberals than I have Republicans. The thing is, these are class issues that affect the working class. This is a real thing for everyone, regardless of whether they're liberal, conservative, or otherwise. So when you come to people where they're at, and you talk to them about real issues they go, "oh, I can see myself in that," and it's really easy to get them to listen to you.

There's just a kind of ease to getting in on those issues that are really important to you; if you're aware of them, and are fundamentally knowledgeable about how classism works, you can get through to these people very quickly and very effectively.

Even if they don't agree with you on every social issue, there are a lot of areas that they will agree with you.

Green New Deal Presser. Courtesy: Senate Democrats/Wikimedia CommonsCourtesy: Senate Democrats/Wikimedia Commons

Starting with economic policy: In a 2019 interview, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez indicated that public-private partnerships could function as a part of her social democratic reform agenda, particularly in respect to the Green New Deal. Does the Rose Caucus hold aligning views, or does it prefer a more socialist means of environmental and economic intervention?

We're really leaning into eco-socialism as a solution. There is no kind capitalism. Incremental change might have worked ten or fifteen years ago, but what we're looking at is climate devastation, and it's going to impact the poor and minority communities, first and foremost.

These are people who are economically forced to live in areas that are more polluted, less safe, and have fewer resources. They're not as walkable, and don't necessarily have yard space to grow their own food. Incremental change only works for those who are already comfortable.

 

With rising cost of living (CoL) remaining a pressing issue, particularly after the 2008 financial crisis, a $15 an hour minimum wage remains insufficient in all parts of the country in respect to affording a 2-bedroom apartment and basic life necessities. Current estimates state that $23 an hour federal minimum wage and $30 an hour minimum wage in high cost of living areas would be necessary to meet living needs for working-class Americans. Would the Rose Caucus support this means of allowing all Americans to rise out of poverty?

Absolutely. We already feel that $15 isn't quite enough. It's a little too late.  By the time that we argued for the $15, it was a win sure, but I think 85% of Americans live paycheck to paycheck, (The statistic is actually 78%, but Violet asserts she was attempting to account for and include individuals who are not documented workers, or those who aren't reporting income.) and when you think about what that means, it doesn't mean you just barely have enough money to cover your bills; it means you're always just a little short.

How any of us are doing this is- well, I'm not going to say unknown; people are working two or three jobs, they're taking out payday loans, they're getting risky loans with high interest rates, and they're asking for kickstarters for healthcare, or to not lose their apartments.

So, we absolutely would support an effort for a higher federal minimum wage, because all people deserve to have a fair living wage.

 

And I'm assuming the Rose Caucus supports tying that to inflation as well?

Absolutely. We should be doing active studies on what the cost of living is currently, and keeping regular updates to the federal minimum wage to reflect that.

 

I cannot agree more with you on that. It's such an important issue and affects so many people; it's unfortunate that politicians are so out of touch with what it's like to live paycheck to paycheck.

It's a little weird, the amount of gaslighting that has been done to the American population. We have a shrinking, if not non-existent middle class, but most people who are right on that poverty line don't even think they're poor. They don't realize that they're not middle class, well off, or that they're living paycheck to paycheck. That they can't afford a vacation, or to take time off of work when they're sick. So it's kind of wild to me that we've been conditioned to feel this way about ourselves.

If we fail at providing these basic needs for ourselves, we feel like we've done something wrong, systematically, in how we put ourselves out there. Maybe we didn't do as well at our job as we should have, or maybe we just should have worked more hours, but the truth is that capitalism is a choice.

USA Wealth Distribution 2017. Courtesy: Delphi234/Wikimedia CommonsCourtesy: Delphi234/Wikimedia Commons

So I know the Rose Caucus supports a wealth tax. Does it match Bernie's policy or does it go further? Specifically, I know Bernie's policy is taxing income, so if you sold illiquid assets, it would be taxed at the same rate. But the issue that a lot of economists have pointed out is that a lot of the wealth that's held by people like Bezos, $126.8 billion, is held in illiquid assets that aren't taxed unless they're sold.

Honestly, the economics of that particular issue aren't my strong suit, but I do know that our plan does go further than Bernie's. You'll find that a lot of our platform has "Green New Deal, plus" or "Medicare for All, plus", because there are things that we feel like we should ask him and his campaign to push for.

So, in regards to that, that's pretty much our tactic with all of our platform. I know we have some stuff that is kind of "wish-list", but I've read all of his books and one of the things that Bernie implies is that he wants us to be critically supportive, he wants us to demand more. Something that I say a lot is, "a politician by virtue of being elected doesn't have any power. It's the people that give them that power." So if we're asking Bernie, "hey, come more left on this," or, "hey, that was a bad take," like SESTA/FOSTA, he's proven to us that he will listen, and add those things to his platform.

We had whistleblower visas on our platform, and it's kind of a niche thing; it just appeared on his [platform] very recently and we got really excited. I don't know if if correlation is causation, but I know that we were calling for that, and there's a couple other things that have made it in that really excited us. We hope to keep being able to do that; to say, "hey, we like what you're doing, but we need a little more."

That information is always based on the people that are telling us, "this isn't enough," or, "could we do this this way instead because this community is being negatively impacted in this specific way."

 

I'd like to shift toward housing policy, which is a pressing issue in areas like California where you have massive homeless populations because there's not public housing available and gentrification has taken away the lower cost housing options there. Would the Rose Caucus support the funding and construction of a non-profit housing collectives with at-cost rent, which could be waived for applicants in need?

I'd have to look more into it, but on paper it already sounds a lot better than what we have. I know we have a more comprehensive long term housing plan, but one of the things that I'm most excited about, that can be done in the immediate future, is "Housing First".

Studies have been done that prove it is more costly for a city to provide care and maintenance around houseless individuals, than it is to just give them a house. We have 8 houses, I think, at the last count, for every houseless individual in the country. Not every houseless family, but every houseless individual could have a house. A lot of them are just sitting empty and dormant, and owned by banks. It would be really interesting if somebody were to use something like eminent domain.

 

That was actually the next question, specifically about eminent domain. So would the Rose Caucus support that?

Even if we purchased them from these people [banks] at cost, it would still be less expensive per year to do that, than it is currently. And a lot of people, even those who live in conservative areas, have actually started doing these programs because they are so fiscally successful.

 

Being from Texas, I believe that Houston has actually started doing this where they house people in houses that are on the market, but not being used. And honestly, why not? They're just sitting there empty, they're unused. So no one's really losing out on anything obviously and you're providing shelter for people that really need it. 

Absolutely, everyone deserves the basic human right of having access to shelter. One of the things that can cause trauma to an individual is insecure access to housing, food, or any basic needs; so it's definitely something that we should be having the government take care of.

 

I'm glad to see the Rose Caucus support the use of eminent domain on this issue. If Trump can use eminent domain for his wall, we should definitely be able to weaponize that for the actual issues that really matter and can be addressed, and it's sad that we haven't.

Absolutely.

It feels like nobody's thought outside the box, for what eminent domain means. We are happy to do it when we have a fascist president who wants to build a wall, but when we have houseless individuals literally freezing to death, or suffering from heat exhaustion on the street, the blinders go on, and they just move on as if there's no available options.

 

I'd like to shift toward foreign policy; what Sanders has proposed, while a drastic improvement from any other prior significant presidential candidate, still leaves a lot to debate. The Rose Caucus supports ending all wars, including the closing of all foreign US military bases. That being said, would the Rose Caucus support a US-equivalent of Japan's Article 9, which punished Japan for egregious war crimes by limiting the role of its military to solely self-defense?

I'm honestly not sure. I'm really familiar with our foreign policy platform; I know that it definitely calls for a lot more than Bernie's. We love our "old commie grandpa", but he's not as far left on the foreign policy issues as we'd prefer, and honestly? Most candidates are not.

We definitely want to end all the wars. We want to stop being imperialists, number one. As far as "what should our military's function be?", the military needs to be handling the climate crisis, and be here for our people. Dealing with mass human migration, and humane efforts to house everyone, and make sure that everyone is taken care of in what we have coming. I personally can say that I believe the military should be for defense only. I'm not a fan of the endless wars. We've been at war for as long as I can remember, and there are people, like my ten year old son, who have never lived in a world where we weren't at war.

It's just time for all of that to end.

 

How does the Rose Caucus see the role of the US in a more peaceful world? Does this align with many leftist ideas of alter-globalization mediated by friendship and economic collaboration between nations?

Like it or not, we've made ourselves the authority on how things move forward- and that's pretty much been done at gunpoint... So when you take that dynamic away, what we should be doing is working to heal the trauma that we've created in other countries, and individuals, including in our own people. We should be working towards collaboration for finding ways to combat climate change, to clean up the planet, and reverse some of the damage that we've done; all to establish more peaceful relationships between our country and other countries, and to be better allies. We've been behaving really poorly for as long as I can remember, and it would be nice to see us move in a direction that is more focused on repairing the generational trauma, and fixing what we've done to the climate; first and foremost. 

 

I agree. We need to act as leaders, but not in the same way we have been. We need to be pushing the issues that are important, not a gunpoint obviously, through productive negotiations and not staging so many coups.

The model that the Rose Caucus uses might be beneficial. When you have people coming together to work toward the same goals, for the same reasons- even if they don't necessarily agree on everything, the unity model allows for the best... I don't want to say "middle ground" because this would still be progressive change, far beyond what they're asking in centrist politics right now- but when you have people who are highly motivated to create change, in desperate situations like climate change, it leads to unity critiquing being more viable as an option.

I'd love to see us doing more of that.

 

I'd like to shift toward criminal justice, because obviously that's a huge issue in society today. To what extent does the Rose Caucus support police demilitarization, would this include unilateral disarmament? 

It's on the platform to demilitarize the police.

 

Police Militarization. Courtesy: Alec Favale/UnsplashCourtesy: Alec Favale/Unsplash

But then does it specifically call for unilateral disarmament? I guess that was more of the real question there.

We're currently working on our gun rights platform, and one of the things that we're talking about putting in there is that police officers should not be allowed to use any weapons that the American citizens cannot use. We definitely don't want to have any discussions about disarming the proletariat before we disarm the police, so right now the best thing that we can do is demilitarize them. If that means disarming them, that means disarming them. We just don't want to get into taking away peoples' rights to own a gun, or protect themselves…

 

So what we've been doing is working with membership of the SRA, including leadership, to find the best gun policies that we can. Concerns about the police are first and foremost in our minds because, until we change how things are now, a lot of the things we might want to do wouldn't be viable, or would put vulnerable communities and individuals at more risk.

 

That's one of the reasons I love Killer Mike as one of Bernie's surrogates because he talks about the idea that guns are so important to the black community. You used to have the KKK come and you needed that rifle to be able to protect yourself and your family from that sort of violence against you for your identity. And I do love that we have people talking about that because it is dangerous to live in a police-militarized state and not be able to protect yourself against the fascist sort of invasion of your personal space, your personal privacy without justification.

It goes beyond just personal protection too!

You have to consider cultural issues, like indigenous hunters for instance.

So the argument in fear comes, "oh, we should ban all guns," or, "we should ban assault weapons," or whatever, but when you look at the practical application of that, it's actually just as dangerous, and it doesn't really do much other than maybe make a couple people feel better.

So what it's going to take is a really hard look at how we're arming people currently, and obviously the common sense reforms like better background check systems, ending the gun show loophole, and stuff like that are important. Maybe redefining or further defining what qualifies as an "assault weapon". This is all stuff that we have down on paper, that we're currently refining into a more comprehensive plan.

 

That's awesome because we definitely need some sort of comprehensive gun reform, but it shouldn't be just confiscating guns or gun buybacks.

I want to really kind of underline something. I'm a dues paying SRA member. I don't personally want to own a gun, but my partner owns a couple; it's mostly that I have an anxiety disorder and don't feel comfortable having that responsibility. I'm afraid I'll accidentally shoot the wrong person [because of anxiety in the moment], but I firmly believe that we are not going to be able to make any progress as the proletariat, or as a revolution against our fascist police state, without arming the people.

 

I mean, that's the real danger, right? If things do ever get bad enough that we need it to happen, some sort of reform needed to be changed, and the military was coup-ing against socialists or against the elected officials, you would want the populace to have weapons to be able to defend themselves. At a minimum, defend themselves and at best sort of prevent that rise of fascism from occurring. So yeah, definitely guns are a huge issue and I think that's very important that the Rose Caucus is addressing that.

This is one of the areas that we get a lot of surprise from conservatives on because they're shocked they can agree with us on this.

 

Yeah, I can imagine.

Because literally a couple weeks ago we had a bunch of people who were misinformed, threatening Rep. Carter's life over an old law they didn't even understand.

 

Yeah, that was insane. No, 'cause it is such a cultural thing. Even for white people in the South, it's just a cultural thing. People love having guns, they love being able to go shoot guns on the range safely, and go hunting. Of course they're going to be upset when they hear stuff like, "Oh, the Democratic establishment wants to take all your guns," but it shouldn't be that, obviously.

Wait, who said I was a Democrat?

 

Right? That's actually one of the questions I had. Does the Rose Caucus aim to sort of push the Democratic Party left to accepting, at least supporting in the same way they do centrist candidates, socialists or does it aim to create a viable alternative third party platform?

Okay, so think of it this way.

Bernie Sanders is actually globally considered a centrist. This is a really important thing to say, and make known, because globally we are a really right-leaning country, which is just a really polite way of saying we're imperialist.

What we're seeing right now is the Republican Party, and then we have "Republican-Lite" in the Democratic Party, and they honestly aren't really fighting with each other. They have shared interests that they uphold. What we're looking to do is get actual representation for the left in the leftist party.

That doesn't mean starting a third party or pushing for that, even though we really support that, and still think it's really important. However, for the type of rapid change that we need, it's a lot easier just to take our party back.

 

I mean, it really is and I know Republicans love to preach, "Founding Fathers," and I know George Washington even warned about the two-party system, right? Yet, that's exactly what happened.

If you look to other countries, their parties are much more diverse. There's more nuance. You can actually delve into these ideologies and go, "oh, I'm more aligned with the labour party," or whatever. Here, there's two parties, and that's it. There's not any nuance or real differences between the two parties.

 

Yeah, I mean, if there are, they're very tiny. Yeah, you've got A.O.C. and then you've got Pelosi. So obviously, there are a little bit of differences, but not that drastic. Though, I guess it is more drastic with a couple.

And I think people like A.O.C., whom people love and adore? She's what most people would call a "Social Democrat", which is way better than most of the "left" in the country, but it's also not necessarily all the way there either. 

 

Shifting back toward criminal justice reform and policing; granted that policing forces have historically been derived from slave-catching institutions and strikebreakers, would the Rose Caucus support the dissolution of the contemporary police state in favor of autonomous community volunteers? Sort of similar to what the Black Panther's did in terms of community policing.

Honestly, I personally think that sounds amazing. I couldn't speak for the Caucus without asking them first, but it sounds like the sort of thing that we would get behind. The police don't act like, or seem to really consider themselves civilians at this point. They act within their own ranks, and outside of the law in a way that is not deeply connected to their communities, or [in a way that] seems healthy. Their actions seem to support toxic, dogmatic power structures. The police function right now, in essence, to protect the elite ruling class, and not the average citizen.

 

Does the Rose Caucus support legalization of psychedelic drugs? Not all necessarily, but like Mushrooms (Psilocybin), Acid (LSD), stuff like that, right, that there have been studies that have shown, in the 50s and 60s, that there were clinical uses for this type of medication.

I know I've heard all of us talking about this, and our general consensus is that anything with a medicinal use that is showing positive, promising options for the future that could help get us off these synthetic, pharmaceutical drugs, would be ideal.

I personally love magic mushrooms. They've pulled me out of some deeply depressive states in my life, and brought art and music into my world in new, clearer ways. I definitely believe that there's something there that we should be exploring at the present, but apparently the government believes it's just "too hard to regulate" something that just grows out of the ground. Looking at you, Cannabis.

Cannabis. Courtesy: Esteban Lopez/UnsplashCourtesy: Esteban Lopez/Unsplash

I mean, I know the Rose Caucus support legalization of cannabis, which is why I skipped that one. Because that's so important, it's good to see that that's finally being accepted even by more mainstream centrists that this is something that needs to change. Although, they've managed to do absolutely nothing even though democrats control the house. You would think they'd bring it to a vote, but no.

We don't just support legalization of cannabis. We also are pushing for reparations for offenders to be given something back for wrongful imprisonment, or for being wrongfully burdened with convictions that definitely impacted their lives for the worse.

It's one of the things that have been weaponized against black people, and people of color as well. I think the numbers are something like four times more black people are convicted of cannabis possession/crimes than white people, and it's just feeding the for-profit prison system that uses slave labor. It's unacceptable that we're such a developed country, and we're still operating in such an old and cruel way.

 

Would the Rose Caucus support a full federal investigation into the pedophilic/human trafficking conspiracies of elites within the US government, elite financial circles, and Hollywood?

Yes.

 

I mean, that's a pretty easy question, straightforward at least. That's good because I think that there is, I mean, there obviously is something there. At a minimum, it's Epstein, but it's pretty hard to believe that it just starts and stops there.

The wealthy elite have been, for a long time, behaving in their circles as if they are above the law. What you're seeing happening now is that, as people are paying attention, this stuff is starting to come out and we're starting to see just how much they are getting away with; all because they have money and power.

And that, honestly, has been really eye-opening for a lot of people who were maybe apolitical before, or just laymen and kind of new to it, who are now thinking, "holy crap, how are they getting away with this?! I can't even steal from Walmart without getting prosecuted to the full extent of the law, but these people are actually doing unspeakable things to children."

 

Does the Rose Caucus support ending cash bonds for the incarcerated awaiting trial?

Yes.

 

Okay, because I did look through the platform and I don't believe I saw that in there, so I just wanted to ask.

It's being added to the platform currently, if not already on there. We haven't even managed to have our first table meeting as a full caucus yet!

 

Oh, that's impressive that you have so much written out already and you haven't even had the first table meeting.

Right? We've had so much interest in people getting on board, and helping some of our folks who have primaries here in March get prepared for that via social media strategy and rollout for that, figuring out how we can best assist them for fundraising pushes, stuff like that. So it's been kind of amazing because we've all gotten to take time to get to know each other, and do all that; but we have our first table meeting coming up this week. We have one tonight that's literally just a strategy meeting for the folks that have their primaries here in March.

These are some of the best human beings that I've ever had the pleasure of working with. They're intelligent, they're educated on the issues, and they are coming in with an amount of enthusiasm only seen in far-left organizing spaces.

 

So then shifting toward Green Policy; what is the Rose Caucus's opinion on nuclear energy, granted that it has far greater safety than any fossil fuel and has functioned well in the past as a means of transition to green energy?

We've gotten a little bit of conflict around how we feel about nuclear energy. Some of us are really for it; one of our candidates actually has a degree in all this stuff, so it's really cool because he can come in and talk about this from an educated perspective.

My partner [VA Delegate Lee J Carter] is also really knowledgeable on this as well. What we've been having happen in this conversation is, we've talked about some of the finer points of, "would it be good for transition," or, "would it be good long-term with these replacements," for how we're doing it.

So I would say that we haven't ruled out nuclear power as an option, but it's just not something that we're advocating for currently, until we have a better consensus as a group for how we feel about it, and what we want to put on The Peoples' Platform. We want to make sure whatever we're putting on there is representative of viable options, that will work for real people long-term.

 Nuclear Power. Courtesy: Roberto Uderio/Wikimedia CommonsCourtesy: Roberto Uderio/Wikimedia Commons

Shifting to education; one of the greatest inequities in our education system is derived from the fact that local property taxes fund local schools, leaving low-income schools with too little funding. Assuming primary residence taxes would be banned, this would mean that only districts with high concentrations of landlords could derive property taxes, and therefore fund local schools. Would the Rose Caucus be open to federalizing the education system in respect to collection of property taxes?

Yes, I believe so. We'd like to move away from using property taxes to fund schools entirely because it's not a sustainable, healthy, or fair way to be deciding what the quality of our children's education is. We already are seeing lower income areas suffering tremendously; I don't see it changing any under the current dynamic.

 

Yeah, it's such a mess right now the way the system has worked and it's just perpetuating the systemic issues and the issues of those lower income neighborhoods and areas. So then, how would the Rose Caucus fund public schools in that case? Because you said you do not want it to be from property taxes obviously.

Right, so I think that what we're looking at is this; when you look at the systemic changes that we're trying to create with different planks across the platform, some of this actually solves itself.

Currently we are working with teachers all across America to discuss what the best ways to manage some of this stuff looks like. Again, it goes back to talking to the people who are directly impacted by this legislation if it were to become law.

Through talking with them we've come across a lot of really good ideas! Obviously, one of the better ones is the wealth tax. Personally, where I come, in it comes back to capitalism being a choice.

Education is an investment in every future worker, so I don't look at this as something that we should be arguing over how we're going to pay for. I would happily pay higher taxes myself if I knew what that was going towards. It comes down to communities taking care of themselves and each other, and figuring out what works best as a country. So right now, that looks like more discussions with more educators, and families with children.

 

Does the Rose Caucus support the nationalization of private universities (i.e. Ivy League, USC, etc.) that largely function as gatekeeping associations for the elite? 

Yes.

 

Would the Rose Caucus support the making of legacy admissions and donation-substantiated admissions a federal crime? 

I'd have to ask them, but I know I support it.

 

I mean, fair. You cannot speak for the whole Rose Caucus in terms of stuff like that.

Every individual learner should have access to the same quality education; no matter what their race, their gender, their economic background, or who their mom is, you know? It should be based on an equal and accessible opportunity for everyone.

 

The last question we had overall was actually about labor rights: I know that the Rose Caucus, as well as Bernie, support the repeal of Section 14(b) of the Taft-Hartley Act. While this would allow unions to collect dues from those who benefit from union contracts and activities, it still leaves unions in a compromised position due to the other provisions of the Act. Does the Rose Caucus support the full repeal, or at least repeal of some of the other sections that really leave unions at risk, of the Taft-Hartley Act?

Last I heard, yes, but I will double check on that and get back to you to make sure. I don't want to misspeak or misrepresent what we are doing in the Caucus, but the last time I think this was brought up was a couple weeks ago and we all agreed, "let's just repeal the whole damn thing."

Repeal Taft-Hartley. Courtesy: Wikimedia CommonsCourtesy: Wikimedia Commons

Yeah, I agree. There's a couple parts where it's hard to say if it really makes a difference either way, but for the most part, you know, Federal employees should be able to strike if they're not being paid, stuff like that. So it is good to hear the Rose Caucus talking about that because it's a little disappointing that Bernie's only saying repeal 14(b). That's a huge step for sure, getting rid of the Right to Work I believe is 14(b), but there's still more to be done.

Oh, Right to Work has to go!!!

 

Oh, 100%. That's definitely 14(b) and I saw that was in your platform as well as Bernie's, so I was really glad to see that just because I mean, living in the South, every state in the South has Right to Work and it's just absurd that that's still allowed to happen.

We have Lee's bill here [In Virginia] for that!

 

I saw that! Yeah, it's really nice to see that happening in Virginia at least. No one has introduced that in Texas as far as I know.

They might kill it, but it's nice to see that we have legislators fighting to end what is, frankly, a racist law.

 

Oh, 100%. It was really eye-opening to see that quote that Lee was talking about, about the creator of Virginia's Right to Work law saying, "It's to keep white people from having to work with black people." I mean, it's absurd and, I'm sure there are way more examples of laws that were created for the same exact reasoning. It's absurd that there was such an open quote like that at any point in history; well, I'm not surprised, but it's absurd that we know that and that is still a law.

Yeah. I mean it's completely absurd that there are laws on our books that are blatantly racist, and openly so- if you check the receipts. The fact that we have any legislators that would object to that is, frankly, absurd. Not only do we have legislators that would object to it, but it appears that we have people that will just openly try and bully us into stepping back from our positions; that isn't going to happen.

 

Yeah, that's what I love to see from Lee. Even his whole like, allow cops to go on strike and that whole attack thing going on about that, so it was really nice to see him hold his ground on that issue because I know that is obviously such a big issue. And his bill was not doing anything that they [those making the threats] were saying; complete slander, lie campaign going on to try to villainize him, but it was really good to see him stand up and not step down or back away from that issue.

That's one thing that we can definitely rely on Lee to do, and I'm hoping to see our Caucus members putting that same foot forward as we progress in our goals, because that's what it's going to take.

We have to be unrelenting.

We have to handle every bit of pushback with a backbone of steel, and when we don't feel like we have the will for it, we need to find it in each other.

 

Exactly, because I mean the system is not going to just embrace socialist reforms that's at the detriment to their success within the current skewed system.

Capitalists are psychologically incapable of stopping; the system benefits them too much.

 

I think that was all I had for you today; I'm glad that we were able to get this interview done. Thank you so much!

Thank you!

 

If you're interested in finding out more about the Rose Caucus, their slate of candidates, their policy platform, or getting involved, more information can be found on their website or on their twitter.