Discussing Politics and Religion

Throughout my life, I’ve found it curious when people would state unequivocally that we simply could not discuss politics and religion in public.

When American culture agreed to this pact, our society and country suffered for it. There should be no reason we cannot discuss issues important to the lives of our families, communities and country without it descending into a disrespectful shouting match.

If something isn’t working out for the best interests of most people, I’ve simply been unable to remain on the sidelines accepting that failing status quo. 

This is why I so often have stood up, said and done what I felt was necessary, especially when it came to the intersection of politics and religion. Growing up in the Midwest and rural America, there is no escaping either. 

Since I was young, I’ve seen one party take over this region while the other appeared to walkaway. 

Due to the erosion in how both politics and religion are discussed, sustained progress in tackling our toughest challenges has become nearly impossible.

Why is it that the most crucial issues are often championed by the most polarizing figures in America and often in the most divisive ways? 

Who wants to get behind a candidate that is for a comprehensive set of solutions to address this complex array of problems?

It’s far easier to use simplistic talking points designed to gain attention instead of practical, pragmatic messages. 

Social issues are complex and often are used to keep voting blocks coming back to political parties. They do this with little regard to local economic issues nor the willingness to discuss the negative consequences on public health and wellbeing by pushing this monolithic social agenda.

Who wants to hear a nuanced position on key issues that inspire intense emotional reactions in order to have a discussion about how to produce beneficial results for community and family?

It’s far easier to force people into choosing to be against someone so they don’t feel they have any other alternatives.

This is why many special interest groups create political candidate questionnaires that are devoid of nuance and designed to focus voters in the ‘for or against’ paradigm.

Over my lifetime, I’ve been blessed to have many discussions with others about both politics and religion. It’s actually a pleasure to listen to someone with a different perspective. I’ve always been skeptical of “Yes” people. No one can really agree on everything. 


That’s why the way in which some on the far left behave is so counterproductive. There’s no room to have a vigorous and thoughtful discussion on any issue. 

You see similar behavior on the far right, which has nearly engulfed the entire Republican Party. 

I’ve watched AOC celebrate ending 25,000 jobs, which is painful while longtime Republicans have backpedaled on American tradition and our U.S. Constitution, all for the sake of political expedience in support of President Trump and their own re-election.


The vast majority of people aren’t in the extreme wings of either political party. They stay mostly silent because to speak up means to become the new target of one or both extremes. 

Each election cycle the party in power will try and pit the other as the most radical and extreme as to sway those in the middle that their side is with them.

This is why Republicans will focus on socialism and abortion rights through 2020 to keep their voters and independents from seeing Democrats as a reasonable alternative. 

Wouldn’t it be far better to have an election based on what candidates want to do if elected instead of one based on fear and anxiety?

If we’re ever able to move this country forward for all her people, we have to be able to discuss the issues that matter to each of us in a realistic way.

It might not be something we’re accustomed to doing, but it is something we need to become comfortable in doing for the sake of the country, our communities and our families.

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Sensitive President, Party Flails in Europe

Senator Lindsey Graham and President Donald Trump are upset by the remarks by President Macron of France Sunday to honor the fallen soldiers of World War I, which also marks America’s Veterans Day. I highly suggest watching the full speech, as it is an important perspective regarding global and our national security.

Considering the unfortunate state of our international relations with our longterm allies, the frayed nature of the alliances that have helped prevent a third World War continue to be stretched under the Republican Trump Administration. 

After World War I, nationalism persisted throughout Europe and around the world, despite efforts to counter it. This ultimately led to the rise of the Third Reich and World War II. These same nationalist energies are rising once again, and we must be vigilant and recognize what’s happening around us. The stakes are extremely high.

On one hand, you have the President demanding our NATO allies to step up to the plate with more money and forces. On the other hand you have both the President and Sen. Graham complaining about these same allies discussing setting up such an army while they increase funding to the alliance. It’s not easy to see through the hyperbole and double standards.


  1. We have a President that is quite sensitive with an extremely thin skin. He can’t even bear a light rain for Veterans Day events with world leaders commemorating our fallen soldiers in Europe. 
  1. We have a sensitive GOP that is bereft with double standards. Even when Europe steps up and makes enforcement and funding a priority, they elect to defend our weak President instead of holding him accountable for his words and deeds.
  1. We have a Political Party and a Political President that chooses to weaken our alliances and disregard our agreements that have helped to protect both our country and the world.

Instead of focusing on legislation and actions that will both protect our national security through both soft and hard power, the Trump Administration and the Republican-controlled Congress have increased military budget while slashing diplomatic efforts.


All of this will only increase our dependence on hard power, helping to fuel the military industrial complex, which both parties support. 

All of this will only increase the dependence on our young men and women in military interventions abroad. 

All of this will only increase our budget deficits and national debt, leading to higher interest rates, a drag on the economy, and diminishing capacity to make the investments necessary to rebuild our country, invest in education, and prepare for the future.


As a country and as Americans invested in our communities, our national security, and in our future, we must demand accountability and responsibility from our elected officials, regardless of party.

Subservience to a party over the people is a road paved in good intentions without checking in on the results.

When our national security is at stake, it’s crucial we get it right.

Solidarity After Anti-Semitic Attack

In the wake of the worst anti-Semitic attack in American history, the country is in need of healing and of leadership that brings us together. Hatred and bigotry never dies, and when it turns into violence and killing we must stand in solidarity against it. We can only do this together as a nation not by furthering the divisions between us.

The mass shooting in Pittsburgh at the Tree of Life synagogue is a tragedy, and one that is deeply felt by our own Jewish community in the 15th District. The Mattoon Jewish Community experienced anti-Semitic attacks back in 2001, which incorporated the same hateful message as the shooter was spewing on Saturday. Our local Jewish community locks their doors during services so as to protect those who attend services. 

It’s a painful reality that too many live with day in and day out in America. The fear of being attacked and killed for who you are and for your faith is something no one should have to experience. It is the experience of many Americans.

We can do better. We do that by working together, standing up to hatred and bigotry in all of its forms, and not turning away when those in our own families and communities use divisive and hostile rhetoric that we know is against our American values.

(Picture Courtesy of USA Today)

A Testament to Public Service

Senator John McCain will be missed.

As many of us have witnessed over the last few days since his passing, he has many loud critics on both sides of the aisle.

That’s what happens when you stand up to your own party and stand up for what you believe in, regardless of the political fallout.

His life was one of public service that is a testament to what it means to be an American. 

Throughout my life, I remember disagreeing with Sen. McCain many times. This did not strip away what we had in common, we put people over party.

We’re Americans striving to make a positive difference for others, our country, and to help pave the way for a better future for our children and our children’s children. 

None of us are perfect people, but all of us are capable of doing so much more for others than we usually put forth the effort to achieve.

That is the real lesson of the life of John McCain. He always wanted to be better, do better, and make this country a better place. That’s a path of public service we all should be encouraged by because we each can walk it as well.

My condolences go out to the McCain family and his many loved ones as they honor and remember him. He will be remembered.

Representation Not Abdication

Illinois is mentioned in the recent indictments of 12 Russian intelligence agents. Meanwhile, our Republican House delegation remains silent on Russian interference in our elections, even though Illinois’ voters were targeted.
Rep. Shimkus continues to abdicate his constitutional responsibilities to protect and defend our country from external and internal threats.
He, along with the rest of Congress, are also abdicating their constitutional responsibilities of regulating trade with foreign Nations. This is threatening our downstate and southern Illinois economy. 
We need a pro-active representative that listens and interacts with their constituents, that engages with both workers and business owners, and that tackles the big issues instead of leaving problems for the next generation.
I will be the representative that listens, interacts, engages, and tackles.
We can’t wait any longer.
In 21 years Rep. Shimkus has held ZERO Town Halls. In only two months I’ve held two while answering questions and engaging voters from every background across the 15th District.
It’s about time that downstate rediscovered what representation is supposed to be.
It’s about you and our communities, not about your party. It certainly should not be about filling up the campaign war chest so a representative doesn’t bother with answering tough questions from voters.
I will be the representative that will show up, stand up, and speak out for you.
Waiting two decades is way too long to wait for real representation.

Tired of Falling Behind

Our nation’s political system is broken. Both parties have been unable to address the big issues successfully for decades. This has deepened polarization, helping to eliminate common ground approaches that combine the best of our American style of democracy. 

Currently, the GOP has control over both the White House and Congress and cannot even pass immigration reform, infrastructure, healthcare, and so much more despite having criticized the Democratic approaches for a decade.

The only issue that seems to unite the GOP is being in opposition to the Democratic Party, especially when it occupies the White House.

The GOP has become unable to do anything but pass massive tax cuts without paying for it. Our grandchildren will be footing the bill. Not exactly fiscal conservatism. And, before the trade war, GDP growth was predicted to decrease annually after these tax cuts, not increase growth. Does that make common sense?

The Democratic Party has its own issues. It has never resolved the divisions exposed during the 2016 presidential election, not recognizing it as yet another false binary choice. During the Great Recession, the Democratic Party chose to tackle healthcare instead of tackling immigration and addressing long term infrastructure issues. 

Like all major reforms, healthcare wasn’t perfect. Far from it. Then, there was no legislative way to fix it without Congressional partners looking out for the best interests of the American people. Does that match up with our common values?

Due to the extreme polarization of our political parties, we now sit with even larger and worsening problems than we did in 2008:

  • Trillion dollar deficits for the foreseeable future. 
  • Higher healthcare costs for Americans. 
  • Crumbling infrastructure issues that have real costs for Americans. 
  • A broken and worsening immigration system.
  • A self-created border crisis that has been made worse by bureaucratic decisions. 
  • A self-created trade war that is increasing costs and prices for American farmers, businesses, and consumers. 

It seems clear that the American economy will get worse on our current trajectory, not better:

  • Making deficits rise faster. 
  • Making wages more stagnant, even decreasing more than they already have over the last year. 
  • Decreasing out of pocket money faster as prices continue to increase. 
  • Increasing unemployment. 
  • Increasing local, state, and federal budget concerns further. 
  • Forcing cuts to vital services which will decrease more revenue to local businesses and economies. 

Do we see the issue with our current trajectory?

We need a new direction as a country. That starts with a new direction politically.

Instead of electing career politicians who rely on big dollar donors and offer rubber stamps and excuses, we should be focusing on what will build an economy, rebuild our infrastructure, and deliver education that provides for a better future. 

I’m tired of falling behind. Aren’t you?

That’s why I decided to run against a 21-year incumbent who I saw as being out of touch with the hardworking people of the 15th District. They deserve someone that will listen to their experiences and concerns and act upon them in Congress.

That’s what I will do as your representative and why I am fighting to earn your support and your vote this November.

People Over Party.

“Are you for the party or the people? Both parties have wrecked IL. It’s “structure” is currently in a “state of disrepair” (has been for decades). With an estimated $8B deficit and growing, over 35k net loss of people—how will you standup to the Madigan’s and Edgar’s of IL? You won’t! They will not support your re-election…you’ll be ostracized.”

First, I agree that there are serious problems in Illinois caused by both sides of the aisle, especially when it comes to downstate.

Second, I’m running in a federal race to represent the 15th District in the U.S. House of Representatives, not the State Legislature.

There are great Democratic candidates running for State House and State Senate races throughout downstate. I would urge you to find yours and listen to what they have to say because they want to listen to what you have to say.

“IL can’t even climb out of the cellar in this historic economy?”

About “this historic economy.” It is historic, but not in the right way for the vast majority of people. And, that’s not just about Illinois. Wages have been stagnant for decades, in some industries wages have actually been decreasing. Many 70-80 year olds are working 6 or 7 days a week to help foot the bill for two or three generations. These working class people have been left behind by the economy, especially in rural America and rural Illinois.

“We sold our land in S.IL a few years ago—we were going to build our “dream” home; dumped the plans to retire in IL from the military—why bring our $ and entrepreneur ideas to a state with the top tax burden?”

If you want to examine the real drivers of our high tax environment in Illinois, look no further than our regressive flat income tax. This places all the burdens on working people and true small businesses. It also lands the burden of paying for education, infrastructure, and local government on property taxes. This is why the economic environment is so hostile to both workers and especially to business.

It will only get worse when the economy slows, and it will—tax receipts will decrease and state handouts will uptick.”

Calling assistance to families “handouts” is an easy way to not appreciate the real needs as well as the real economic benefits of this assistance. Under our current system, working while poor is punished. We should be incentivizing work instead. If you have any health condition within your family, these issues are compounded greatly.

The reality about monetary, healthcare, shelter, and food assistance is that all of these go directly into our local economies. When we cut these resources, we’re robbing our small businesses of much needed revenue. And, without eliminating the disincentives and punishments for getting back to work, the bridge to self-reliance is non-existent. We can work on this from both a state and a federal level.

“Why would an IL politician be concerned with people staying or leaving IL? Politicians do well in IL, get that state “gravy-train” (golden parachute) retirement plan to the tune of $72k off the backs of workers. For what? Nation leading deficits, taxes, state gov criminality, etc. When outflow outpaces inflow, maybe people will learn?”

When you examine downstate politics, the Republicans have one mantra. “Madigan.” That’s all they run on mostly, adding in one or two social issues that divide and separate as opposed to build and boost our local economies. I know that the People are exhausted by that boring, tired playbook.

Republicans have also ran nearly every county board, city council, state house, and state senate district for decades. What do the People have to show for it? Mass exodus.

There is plenty of blame to go around, but doing the same thing and expecting a different result . . . there’s a phrase about that, isn’t there?

  • I’m focused like a laser on changing the conversation.
  • Moving beyond this blame game.
  • Finding common ground, using common sense, and utilizing common values to move our district forward.
  • That is why I’m showing up, standing up, and speaking out everywhere I go. 

The People deserve to be heard, they deserve to be believed, and they deserve someone to stand up and fight for them everyday, both in D.C., in Springfield, and in their communities.

  • I’m open to solutions while sharing the innovative solutions I know have worked and that will work here.
  • We’re working together with anyone that is willing and open to do so.
  • Most people are too.