First Q & A

Send Me Your Questions, Concerns, or Comments.
Twitter: @gaither4il

I think we need less personality and more connecting with voters. Less personal and social issues and more economic messages that connect with workers.

“We need people to understand the conservatives and find common ground. Enough revolutions and verbal bomb throwing.”

When I discuss finding common ground, it’s with voters. Without more voters coming over to support our candidates in areas like the 15th District of Illinois, we have no chance of taking back the House for American workers and small business owners.

Number one, there are many people throughout rural and Mid America, the very areas that Dems and Progressives lost, that deserve better. Secondly, these areas have been grossly underserved by their representation in state legislatures and in Congress. Many only have had the “verbal bombs” thrown at them from both sides. The problem is that they’ve known the conservative mantras their whole lives. We have to begin to change that now.

Q: But how? It’s entrenched in their lives and culture.

A: By first listening to the people. Then, relating what you hear to a message that resonates with them. This won’t happen overnight.

Democrats have largely left these voters behind for decades. That vacuum and damage can’t be bridged and healed overnight, or over even one election cycle. What most don’t realize or never hear is how the GOP policies have harmed their lives and livelihoods.

Calling them stupid, deplorables, bigots, and fascists doesn’t really bode well for bringing them into the big tent that is the Democratic Party. It also happens to not be accurate.

Q: Many claim Bernie Sanders’ plans are financially not feasible without severely raising taxes. I have no problem paying higher taxes for single payer healthcare or free college, but still too many people claim this is socialism.

A: The real issue with paying for programs and services are the caps on taxes for the wealthiest. Nowhere is this more blatantly obvious than in the State of Illinois where we have a flat tax system. The highest income earners pay an effective tax rate of 3.75%. Compare that to your own tax rates. 

This is where education of voters is quite powerful. You can only do that one voter at a time. Most won’t believe an ad or something on the news. They naturally fear socialism and definitely higher taxes. They distrust the $15 minimum wage and free college.

I’ve talked to so many intelligent, hardworking Americans that believe if we did raise the minimum wage that new workers would be the only ones that receive that $15/hour but that they wouldn’t. It’s bizarre, but I hear this everywhere I go.

Q: Where are the moderate Republicans in Congress when it comes to a vote to help their constituents?

A: They’re not receiving enough calls from their own constituents. We’ll see how they respond to the Senate Trumpcare bill. We have to not give up the good fight and reaching out where we can actually make a difference. 

In House races here, in the upcoming gubernatorial race next year in Illinois, state legislative races, and in all Senate races everywhere, we have to challenge incumbents. We have to do this with more than just candidates but with messages and policies that resonate with regular folks.

We can’t control what others do, but we can make a good faith effort at reaching out to them. Relentlessness without exhaustion, attachment, and expectation is difficult to make a personal reality. It happens to be a survival strategy in political discourse, advocacy, and activism, in my experience.

Q: Conservatives are ideologues. Their relationship with and the part Christianity plays in their lives influences everything including their support for an authoritarian figure in charge. You cannot ignore that and simply focus on economic issues and think you will change their minds. It is so powerful that it has caused people to vote against their own economic interests for years.

A: I’ll never say to ignore any aspect of voters’ lives. However, ignoring these voters and these areas completely is repeating a mistake and expecting a different result. The idea that people are voting for the GOP and against their best economic interests is somehow due to Christianity is overly simplistic.

Democrats haven’t been running in most of these areas, locally, state, or in federal races, for a long time. Democrats abdicated these to the GOP long ago when manufacturers beat down Unions and jobs began to decline. That mistake must be rectified.

Believe it or not, most people aren’t mean-spirited Christians. They want to do good for others and their communities. Democrats just haven’t focused on messages that relate to these voters in a way that is meaningful.

Seeing these voters as monolithic is an error of judgment I won’t be making. If I saw them that way, I wouldn’t bother to run to make a difference here.

It’s also a mistake to believe you’re going to change people’s minds. Politics is about broadening your message so that it relates to voters and their communities, not the other way around. This is never more true than in these deeply entrenched districts that have been held by one party or another for decades.

These voters naturally distrust politicians of any stripe or creed. They trust what they know or what they’ve known. Breaking through is not a simple process. It takes time, diligence, and relentless perseverance. Repeated contacts, openness to questions and concerns, and always listening and relating back to core principles and messages that matter to people.

I look forward to more of your questions as I continue to put my campaign together. Pleased to so much energy and inspiration out in the district, state, and country.

Keep up the good fight!

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