Alan Augustson is the Green Party congressional candidate in the race for the 5th District. The 44-year-old has worked as a political analyst, economist, and management consultant in Chicago for over seven years. In 2006 he was part of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce serving as the Associate Director for the Issues Council. The Sault Saint Marie, Mich. native, who moved to Chicago in 2000, opens up to the Windy City Times about his third-party beliefs.
Windy City Times: For many years you have been working behind the scenes in politics as a political analyst. Why have you decided to emerge this election season and run for public office?
Alan Augustson: I honestly felt that I had to. At the time I filed to be on the ballot, Rahm Emanuel was running unopposed in my congressional district, and I felt that was unacceptable considering his record. And since no one else appeared to be stepping up I just felt compelled.
WCT: Before running for congress you campaigned as a green party candidate for president. What made you drop out of the national race and join a local race?
AA: It was strategic. I didn't think that the presidential race was a hittable target. I don't have mass resources at my command, I am not a millionaire. In fact, I'm struggling for survival just like a lot of people in our district. But to cease to do anything? Well, that was unacceptable, too.
WCT: What are the local issues you would focus on upon being elected into office?
AA: The first thing on my mind is that we need to improve the mass-transit situation. CTA is having to cut back precisely at the time ridership is going up because of rising gas prices. Mass-transit is one of the solutions both to fuel shortages and to global warming. We can't do with having cutbacks in mass-transit, in fact we need to beef it up. We need it to be more extensive, we need it to be better quality and we need it to have better capacity.
WCT: Feminism and gender equity is listed on your Web site as one of your top ten key values as a green candidate. What about women's rights do you find important and in need of attention?
AA: I think women's reproductive rights have been threatened for a number of years now and they are going to continue to be threatened as hyper-conservative elements continue to take control of the government. My position on abortion is clear. You are the owner of your body, period. I am not going to tell you what to put into or what to take from it. I don't think that is government's role.
WCT: Is it safe to say that separation between church and state is an important issue for you?
AA: I call it crucial to our long-term survival. If you try to let God run the state, you run into the problem, whose god? Do we listen to the majority on that? Or do we allow whoever is the loudest and biggest bully to impose their god upon us? No, No, No. I say throw God out of government, plain and simple.
WCT: Okay, and on your Web site, you say the argument against same sex marriage is based on religion, Christianity to be specific, and you stress that 'America is not a Christian nation.' Could you further explain your stance on this issue?
AA: Marriage, if you look before the establishment of religion, marriage or at least partnership between people, between humans, between lovers- it existed before organized religion did. Religion didn't create it, religion shouldn't dictate to it. I think it's more important in this day and age not whom you love, but that you still have the capacity to love. I'll show up at the wedding regardless if you're both wearing a tux.
WCT: You have said that you will stick to these views even if it costs you the election. However, if elected, what are your plans to fight against this argument surrounding same-sex marriage?
AA: I personally intend to introduce or, if it has already been introduced, to co-sponsor legislation to provide federal recognition of same-sex marriages across the nation.
WCT: How do you feel about amending the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, making it all inclusive so that those in the LGBT community would be protected?
AA: I favor amending anti-discrimination acts to specifically cover same-sex partners and same-sex preferences. I support any amendment to include gender preference and marriage and partnering preference in terms of establishment of their human rights. For instance, hate-crimes legislation, I will support the inclusion of sexual orientation in hate-crimes legislation and I will not support any hate-crimes legislation that does not include it.
WCT: What are your thoughts on the 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' military protocol?
AA: I think it has been a failure and it needs to be ditched. I feel it has failed by driving sexual orientation underground in the military which is the exact opposite of where it needs to be. To ask anybody to suppress their nature in order to fit into somebody else's mold is counterproductive, it is inhumane, and it is unacceptable in my eyes.
WCT: Could you outline one or two major goals to continue your support for the LGBT community if you are elected.
AA: Right now, the folks in the LGBT community are worried about the same things as the rest of us. They're worried about gas, jobs and healthcare. These are things that I need to address first. You'll see me pushing for the total repeal for the Patriot Act; the Military Commissions Act; the restoration of habeas corpus; and a thorough opening of the entire intelligence community, the Justice Department, the CIAall these other institutions that have left alone to operate in the shadows for far too long and allowed to do whatever the people in charge tell them to do without being questioned. It's un-American. These are all things that cannot help brought to bear against the LGBT community if somebody doesn't actively stand up to them.
See www.augustson2008.us .