The ReThink Blog

Starting from scratch in politics and science


The Missouri Ballot 2014

It's that time of year again, but once more I find myself in a new state of the union with unfamiliar politics. In order to prepare myself to vote, I need to be a good citizen and examine each candidate and issue on the ballot, being extra careful as I am largely an outsider. While I have looked into much of the rest of the ballot--things like the State Auditor race and the proposed amendments to the State Constitution--today I'm training my focus on what I believe to be the three biggest races in my districts: the U.S. 2nd District House race, the 22nd District State Senate race, and the State House Race for District 113. As usual, I will attempt to look at each candidate dispassionately and without preconceptions, which shouldn't be hard as I know nothing about them from the start.

Ann WagnerArthur LieberBill Slantz

The seat once held by the infamous Todd Akin is currently in the hands of incumbent Ann Wagner, who is seeking re-election and is expected to win. She is a fairly consistent party-line Republican who has voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act, cut federal spending, not raise the debt ceiling, increase the powers of the government under the Patriot Act and the NDAA, and sue the president for exceeding his authority under the constitution. She is a strong supporter of gun rights, expanding the military, and putting U.S. sovereignty ahead of the U.N. She also opposes same-sex marriage, abortion rights, green energy, stimulus spending, and of course Obamacare.

Her Democratic Party challenger is Arthur Lieber. According to his campaign website, Lieber believes in a "full-employment" economy where everybody who wants a job can get one. He believes the federal government should take a "greater leadership role" in green energy projects, that our healthcare system should be akin to "Medicare-for-all" but that medical tort reform is necessary to keep costs down, that our campaign system relies far too much on money, and that civil liberties should be "primarily protected by the federal government, not states." On education, where he has the most experience, he wants to take focus away from standardized testing, allow for non-sectarian and non-profit vouchers, increase focus on early childhood education, and allow teachers to teach even if they lack state certification.

And finally, there is Libertarian Bill Slantz, running for office for the fifth time in five years. He believes in a strong free market that is unburdened by federal regulation and tax incentives, in a law enforcement platform that is guided by the strict definition of crime as being "limited to aggression against persons and property, including fraud," that there should be no prohibition against drugs, that education should be freed from "the entrenched governmental bureaucracy that has held back progress for far too long," that foreign intervention should be restricted to instances where there is a clearly defined and legitimate national interest, that gun rights should be absolute, in open immigration but strictly controlled borders, and in aboloshing minimum wage, income tax, and Social Security. He only deviates from being a cliché Libertarian when it comes to being pro-life, with how hawkish he is about illegal immigration, and in his belief that infrastructure spending is a necessary and proper use of the federal pocketbook.

For me, I can certainly see things about all three of these candidates that I like, but the only one I can see myself voting for is Bill Slantz, the Libertarian. While his views may be a bit on the extreme side, I think he's far more likely to vote the way I would on a wide range of issues and I appreciate that he's not the kind of gung-ho non-interventionist that I have been unable to vote for in the past. Wagner, the Republican, is fine on things like economics, the Affordable Care Act, gun rights, and such, but I can't vote for somebody who is as willing as she is to grant more powers to the surveillance state and who so vehemently opposes same-sex marriage. As for Lieber, I honestly find him more palatable than your average Democrat--his take on education is reasonable and his acknowledgement of the necessity of medical tort reform is laudable--but I am disappointed in his support of the modern Democratic rallying cry of getting money out of politics (because it is logistically impossible without trampling all over the Constitution and redefining our nation as something other than a Representative Democracy), his eagerness to spend money on green energy, and his insistence that the federal government protects our rights (which isn't how it works).

Jeff RoordaPaul Wieland

First on the ballot is Democrat Jeff Roorda, a Congressman from the 113th District and former chief of police in Kimmswick. He is definitely not a party-line voter, as he has voted to triple waiting time for abortions and to allow teachers to carry guns in school. He did sponsor a failed bill to increase the state minimum wage and continues to run on the promise of pushing for such an increase. However, he has voted against dairy subsidies and voted in favor of offering more choice in the school transfer program. He also helped raise money for police officer Darren Wilson, the man behind the controversial shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, and has been vocal that "Jefferson County is a working-class county that believes in trial by jury, not riot."

Opposing Roorda is Republican Paul Wieland, a Congressman from the 112th District who beat Roorda in a House election back in 2010. The owner of an insurance company, he has pushed (and promises to continue pushing) for more funds for ports in Jefferson County, believing that such funding will dramatically increase the number of jobs available in the state. While he has voted along predictable party lines when it comes to taxes, gun control, the birth control mandate, and abortion, he did sponsor a bill that would allow drug felons to receive food stamps. Where education is concerned, he supports the school transfer program and is open to adding a more robust voucher system to improve competition. He also voted in favor of exploring options that would replace Common Core.

I could actually see myself voting for either candidate. The only thing I can find in Roorda's record that I strongly disagree with is his determination to raise the minimum wage, but I don't actually think that's as big a deal as most people seem to believe. As for Wieland, I get exhausted by his more evangelical tone when it comes to things like abortion and I am wary of any lawmaker who thinks more spending automatically makes more jobs, but I don't disagree with him on pretty much any of the other topics listed. Even in the places where he opposes Republicans--as in the case of the food stamps for drug felons--I think he's on the right side. So, with a disclaimer that I would be perfectly fine with Jeff Roorda, I'll vote for Wieland.

Sean FaussDan Shaul

Sean Fauss, like the current holder of 113's seat Jeff Roorda, is not your typical Democrat. He believes in abortions being "safe, rare, and legal" (which goes against the current wording of the Democratic Platform which has omitted the word "rare"), is a strong supporter of gun rights, and opposes eminent domain abuse. However, he is obsessed with increased funding for local education, but is careful to point out that tax dollars should be "spent on students' education, not lavish administrative packages and salaries." He also wants to put limits on campaign donations--especially gifts from lobbyists--and opposes right-to-work laws.

His Republican opponent is Dan Shaul. Shaul opposes limiting campaign donations, believing instead in maintaining a high degree of transparency and trusting the people to be a proper check against cronyism. He is adamantly pro-life, "a strong supporter of holding everyone accountable in the education process," and insists that he has the experience necessary to bring the parties together.

In contrast to the above State Senate race, I don't want to vote for either of these guys. I like the areas where Fauss doesn't tow the party line and I am not completely opposed to increasing local funding for schools, but I could never vote for a candidate who opposes right-to-work and who honestly believes that the real problem in government is the lobbyists. As for Shaul, his answer to cronyism isn't exactly reassuring, and his talk of accountability in education reeks of more standardized testing, which I am opposed to. Also, while I can understand being personally pro-life, I don't think it's the government's job to "protect the unborn" as he does. So yeah, I think I'm going to leave this one blank; to paraphrase Simon Le Bon, I'll put my faith in none of the above. (Yes, there is a third candidate from the Constitution Party, Donna Ivanovich, but I have a hard time even considering that one.)

-e. magill 10/28/2014


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