Steve Schwartzberg: Candidate Profile
5th District U.S. Representative (Democrat)
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Note: Answers provided have not been edited for grammar, misspellings or typos. In some instances, candidate claims that could not be immediately verified have been omitted.
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5th District U.S. Representative
Family: I am divorced with two children: a 23 year old son and a 21 year old daughter.
Occupation: Candidate for Congress, former building and office manager at Church of Our Saviour
Education: PhD in History from Yale in 1996, Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy in 1992, Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Reed College in 1984.
Civic involvement: Elected president of the Chicago Literary Club in 2017, volunteer canvasser with Bernie Sanders' campaign in the primaries in 2016 (door-to-door in Iowa and Wisconsin) and with Hillary Clinton's campaign in the general election, volunteer chairman of the Winter Clothing Drive at Church of Our Saviour from 2008 to 2015, volunteer with Food for Friends at Church of Our Saviour providing free meals to the homeless from 2008 to the present, co-mentor of the Education for Ministry program at Church of Our Saviour from 2012 to the present. Lifelong social democrat.
Elected offices held: None to date
Questions & Answers
What do you think is the government's responsibility in assuring that citizens have health care? To what extent does the Affordable Care Act address this responsibility? What, if any, changes are needed in the act.
I support Medicare for All, with a special emphasis on workforce and compensation structure issues to ensure that universal healthcare will be better quality healthcare for all (see my newsletter on the subject: http://conta.cc/2ydWYy5 ). In short, I believe that the struggle to insure that quality health care is guaranteed for all the inhabitants of our landÃ‘citizens and non-citizens alikeÃ‘begins with building as strong a consensus as we can that, in the wealthiest nation in the history of the world, people should not be crushed into bankruptcy by a chance illness, or driven into debt by excessive deductibles and co-pays, or completely denied the care they need by insurance company bureaucrats who are ignorant of the art and science of medicine, or by an inadequate governmental compensation system.
For most of the first decade of the twenty-first century, polls showed solid majority support (60+%) for the claim that it is Ã’the responsibility of the federal government to make sure that all Americans have healthcare coverage.Ã“ ThenÃ‘with the Republican assault on ObamacareÃ‘support declined to around 40+%. Now with the public having seen something of the successes of Obamacare (inadequate though it is), and of Republican mendacity in the fight over Ã’Trumpcare,Ã“ we are once again seeing solid majority support (60+%) for the principle that everyone's coverage should be guaranteed.
What immigration policies do you support? Where, if at all, do you see room for compromise to produce an effective policy on immigration? What, if any, responsibility does the government have toward immigrants referred to as Dreamers who were brought to the United States illegally as children and are now adults? How will these policies affect your district?
We, as a people, must renew the sense of ourselvesÃ‘of AmericaÃ‘as a nation of immigrants. This is who we are and who we want to be: a hospitable people made up of individuals from every other nation on earth. As A. Philip Randolph used to say: our ancestors may have come over on different ships, but we're all in the same boat now. That is exactly right. And that is why there must be a swift legislative path to citizenship for all of the undocumented immigrants in the country. They are already part of who we are, but in a second-class status that they do not deserve and that weakens our unity as a people.
The capacity of our economy to grow depends on the creativity of our system of higher education and the inventions and innovations that fuel technological development. Since the Nobel Prize was established in the early 1900s, more than 900 prizes have gone to Americans and about 35 percent of all US Nobel laureates have been immigrants to the United States. In a fit of ignorance and prejudice, the Trump administration is killing the goose that lays the golden eggs.
The role of immigrants in the field of healthcare is perhaps even more important. There is already a desperate shortage of trained medical professionals, a shortage that will worsen in severity as the population ages, and acquiring professionals from other countries will be an essential part of the solution.
What military or diplomatic roles should the United States play to promote peace and stability in the Mideast? Under what circumstances should we have military forces actively operating?
The best allies the United States has in the fight against ISIS are the more than a hundred and twenty Islamic scholars who crafted and signed an open letter to Baghdadi, the leader of the so-called Ã’Islamic State,Ã“ which concludes: Ã’But as can be seen from everything mentioned, you have misinterpreted Islam into a religion of harshness, brutality, torture and murder. As elucidated, this is a great wrong and an offence to Islam, to Muslims and to the entire worldÃ“ (www.lettertobaghdadi.com). We should seek to make it clear to the peoples of the Middle East that we see our pursuit of our own ideals and interests as perfectly compatible with respect for what Islam genuinely teaches, as explained by these Islamic scholars, as well as with respect for the national sovereignty of all the peoples of the Middle East (the people of Israel and the people of Kurdistan included).
The United States should not ally ourselves with dictatorships in the Middle East, whether the current Ã’pro-AmericanÃ“ authoritarian rulers of Egypt and Saudi Arabia or the current Ã’anti-AmericanÃ“ authoritarian rulers of Iran and Syria. These dictatorships will sooner or later be overthrown by those they are oppressing, by people who might otherwise be won over to viewing the United States and democracy with sympathy. We should seek to maintain civil relations with every established government. And we should remember that terrorism thrives on anti-American sentiment and seek to avoid increasing support for terrorism by allying ourselves with oppressive regimes.
What should the United States be doing to reduce the threat of potential nuclear conflict from North Korea?
The fantasy that freedom from vulnerability can be achieved by military means led to a war in Iraq that made us more, rather than less, vulnerable. War against North Korea would make the war in Iraq look mild by comparison. It would make usÃ‘and everyone else in the worldÃ‘much worse off while costing unimaginable sums in lives and treasure.
Our accepting our vulnerability is a lousy choice, but it is a better choice than war would be. The odds are overwhelming that Ã’effectiveÃ“ coercive measures would prove counterproductive in the extreme. And by Ã’counterproductiveÃ“ let me be explicit that if Ã’effectiveÃ“ sanctions lead to war we are talking about tens of thousands of deaths from conventional weapons in the first day of the conflictÃ‘and potentially millions if atomic weapons are usedÃ‘in conjunction with a blow to the global economy that could easily lead to a global recession and an antagonism with China that might well lead to another Ã’Cold WarÃ“ with what would become a much more formidable foe.
What we should be doing is cultivating our capacity for undertaking covert action in North Korea while seeking to encourage an eventual peaceful regime change through nonviolent means. We should be publicly planning with South Korea for a Ã’softÃ“ and a Ã’generousÃ“ approach to reunification with the people of North Korea that might someday encourage a faction in the North Korean regime to overthrow their government and surrender to South Korea.
How would you describe the effectiveness of Congress today? If you think Congress needs to be more effective, what would you do to promote that?
My commitment to pursue a politics informed by compassion and civility in no way diminishes the militancy of my commitment to work for social democracy. But successes in advancing a social democratic agenda will largely depend on how much organizational strength we, its advocates, can muster and, above all, on what the American electorate as a whole decides over a series of elections. The Ã’gridlockÃ“ that has been a feature of American politics in recent years, and the swings of administration between Ã’conservativesÃ“ and Ã’liberals,Ã“ are rooted in divisions of opinion among the American people that will take time and effortÃ‘and dialogue and organizationÃ‘to resolve into a new majority consensus. In the meanwhile, we need to find ways of embracing all of the members of this nation as fellow citizens and as fellow children of God. We need to restore generosity, honesty, and goodwill in our relations with each other as Democrats, Republicans, and Independents alike. This does not mean starting with lukewarm compromises that satisfy no one, though compromise is an essential part of politics. It means starting with the recognition that many of our most important problems cannot be solved by politics. It requires cultivating a civility and a compassion that transcends politics, seeks to serve the common good, and recognizes that those we disagree with are capable of doing the same.
What other issues, if any, are important to you as a candidate for this office?
According to James Wilson, my favorite revolutionary among the founders of our country, weÃ‘the American peopleÃ‘are Ã’sovereigns without subjects.Ã“ It took the Civil War, and the civil rights movement, to even begin to make this true for African-Americans. It took the suffragists, and the women's rights movement, to even begin to make this true for women. And it took the organization of trade unions, and the labor movement, to even begin to keep this true for working people: to prevent the power of the state being used on behalf of corporations to make subjects of workers. In our own day, it will take a moral and political revolution to keep the 1% from making subjects of the rest of us and destroying the promise of the American Revolution. And it will take repentance on the part of the American people to cease attempting to rule over the Indian nations as if they were in any way our subjects, or subject to our jurisdiction.
My top five priorities will be:
1) Advancing Medicare for All.
2) Supporting infrastructure investment and the Ã’decarbonizationÃ“ of our economy through a Marshall Plan for America.
3) Promoting a foreign policy that rests on concern for the common good, and respect for the rights and interests of others.
4) Respecting tribal sovereignty
5) Advocating a Freedom Budget for the 21st century with which to begin to abolish poverty through investments in public education, housing, and job training.
Please name one current leader who most inspires you.
The Dalai Lama
What is the biggest lesson you learned at home growing up?
Love of God and neighbor
If life gave you one do-over, what would you spend it on?
Have more children
What was your favorite subject in school and how did it help you in later life?
History. Knowledge of history helps me advocate ways of drawing from our common past to build a shared future
If you could give your children only one piece of advice, what would it be?
Love and forgiveness, civility and compassion, are the most important things in the world and all that will matter in the end.