APN Chat with Rand Knight, US Senate Candidate
(APN) ATLANTA — Rand Knight, Democratic candidate for US Senate against US Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), is a political newcomer in Georgia. Atlanta Progressive News sat down with Mr. Knight for an interview about his stance on many political issues, as part of a series with US Senate candidates in the 2008 Democratic Primary.
Previously, APN interviewed Dale Cardwell about his position on these same eight issues and two others in early January. Meanwhile, Dekalb County Commissioner Vernon Jones’s campaign has not returned multiple requests for comment left by telephone, after an email address provided to APN by the campaign did not work.
Knight, a young Atlanta native, has never held a political office. He notes, however, that he is older than his political heroes, former US Sens. Sam Nunn (D-GA) and Richard Russell (D-GA), when they were elected.
Knight worked as an ecologist for the US Forest Service, before earning a Ph.D. in Ecosystems Analysis. He worked as a businessman in the private sector, a postdoctoral fellow at the American Institute of Biological Services in Washington, DC.
Knight is currently director of QL2, working on national security technology and consulting.
“I’m fed up with [US Sen. Chambliss] voting against minimum wage,” Knight said. “I’m fed up with him voting against kids’ healthcare. I’m fed up with him voting against raises for teacher’s salaries… him not taking care of our soldiers when they come home… him ignoring the opportunities we have for energy independence in this country.”
Knight also criticized Vernon Jones and Dale Cardwell’s platforms.
“Vernon has never met a bond he didn’t like,” Knight said bluntly. “Dale wants to abolish the IRS without any kind of answer as to how we’re going to build our revenues. Dale’s background in investigative reporting does not prepare him to handle the kind of challenges the way I have with respect to identifying and understanding science and business.”
SINGLE-PAYER UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE
Knight said while he supports a single-payer healthcare system, he noted that no US Senator could make that decision and that he would support the initiatives laid out by a Democratic president.
“I just want everyone who wants access to healthcare to have it,” he said. “It’s just a sin that you can have two people working full-time, two parents, but they can’t get healthcare at their jobs and they can’t take their kid to the doctor. What in the world is going on here?”
While he would prefer to keep healthcare companies in the process, Knight said the way healthcare companies do business is going to have to change.
“We’re letting healthcare companies bilk us for millions of dollars in corporate welfare. We’re paying for the research and development of these drugs, grants, tax cuts, subsidies and they’re charging us a thousand dollars a month for these drugs for our people. It’s crippling our system so we can’t provide healthcare.
“Driving increased margins every year and growing every year, this is not reasonable in an industry where we make money off of people who are sick and dying. We’re not going to get rid of these companies. We need to be honest about what is a fair profit, what is a fair amount of money to make on this and do you need to increase your margins every year or is it just OK to make 8 or 10 percent a year and just be satisfied with that?”
US INVASION OF IRAQ, TROOPS HOME NOW?
“Oh yeah we want to bring them home honorably as quickly as possible and reward them when they get here instead of squashing them and their families when they get back.”
“I want no more combat missions in Iraq. We’ve built this half a million dollar base over there that is supposed to be an embassy. We’re going to have to staff that thing and we’re going to have to have security for our diplomats There’s going to be a certain level of military defense over there in order to protect our assets over there and our people on the ground. I’ll never leave an American hanging over there.
“If we can’t take care of our people here at home and we can’t take care of business here in our own backyard, then we have no business protecting 105 countries. We certainly have no business spending $40 billion a month in Iraq while our people are dying over here, while education is going down the tubes here.”
ELECTRONIC VOTING, PAPER TRAIL
Knight called the lack of a paper trail on electronic voting machines “a joke.” He also noted the fact that Diebold controlling the electronic voting machines poses a serious threat.
“They’re taking the Democracy away from us, tearing up the Constitution.”
“I would prefer not to have to have nuclear power if I had a choice. However, here’s the real deal with the energy independence equation in the US. There is no single arrow that is going to solve this right now. It’s going to have to be a motley crew of technologies to make this happen.”
Knight suggested these could include solar, wind, geothermal, clean coal, and ethanol, as well as biodiesels made from items like pecan shells, leaves, kudzu, and pine waste.
“Each one of these things needs to play a role in the transition to a low carbon economy.”
DEMOLITION OF PUBLIC HOUSING
Knight did not answer the question directly of whether he supports the demolitions of public housing.
“It’s not necessarily a federal issue and maybe it should be more. That is something that is going to be decided at a state level more likely than not. I would like to send more federal dollars down here to buy federal grants and federal tax incentives for us to build housing that is more community based.”
2002 USE OF FORCE RESOLUTION
Knight says he would not have supported the Congressional authorization of use of force in Iraq in 2002. “No. I have thought for quite some time we are paying for the protection of too many countries without getting reimbursed for it while we’re building up debt. If we can’t take care of our own house, we have no business trying to take care of the business of others.
“Sure, there is terrorism out in the world that is out to get us. However, by having boots on the ground in a lot of these places in the world where we probably shouldn’t be, we are engendering more terrorists. I’m saying we’re making it worse.
“We probably need to mind our business a little bit more and get our own house in order. When our own house is in order, maybe we can go out and be the world’s police again.”
CUTTING FUNDING FOR NUCLEAR WEAPONS
“Absolutely. I stand in strong, unwavering solidarity with the nuclear treaty initiative that Sam Nunn runs with Ted Turner and some other folks who are progressive thinkers.
“In a perfect world, we wouldn’t need nuclear weapons. It’s not a perfect world, we need them for deterrent right now but I am overwhelmingly in favor of taking them off the table at any possible stage.
“We need to invest the money in our priorities. Maintain fiscal conservatism and pay down our debt and not be wasting money on technologies that kill people. Peace is every step. I believe peace is one of the most important steps toward prosperity in the world.”
“I’m a huge proponent of LGBT rights as a whole. I have no problems whatsoever with it. However, this is the deal. You want something successful that we can get passed through legislation, you’re better off asking me as a US senator fighting tooth and nail for civil unions because I can probably get that done.”
“I want equality for all people… I want everyone to have the same benefits regardless of their sexual preference. It shouldn’t matter at all. In Georgia, if we want to get a progressive thinker in office and we’re going to demand he or she say “same sex marriage,” it ain’t going to happen this decade, probably. If you’re willing to let us take this and get civil unions done, I think we can pull this off.”
Because of Mr. Knight’s environmental expertise, APN also asked him about his views on solutions to global warming.
“It’s all about accelerating our transformation to a low carbon economy. It’s also about conservation. We are held hostage by energy producing countries.
“Restoring leadership in energy, research, and engineering because a lot of the solutions are going to be technological advances and solutions and we need to restore our leadership in those areas like we used to have.
“We have got to have enormous conservation efforts. We’re not trained to think about conservation as a core part of our lives. That’s a problem and that’s got to change if we want to have our cake and it eat it to. We’re not going to be able to keep consuming at the level we have been consuming.
“We’ve got to be able to have the options that give tax credits and tax incentives and grants and subsidies where they’re needed, not to companies who are making billions hand over fist. Exxon and Shell are the past; they’re not the future unless they want to get involved in clean technology at a level that’s not just slick, fancy PR material in magazines,” he said.
About the author:
Jonathan Springston is the Senior Staff Writer for Atlanta Progressive News and may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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