As part of our efforts to keep our readers informed about local elections, we sat down to interview Nick Thomas, independent candidate for Congressional House District 2 in Colorado, which includes parts of Longmont.
1. Why are you running as an independent in House District 2?
I happened to be in D.C. working on some bipartisan issues when the shooting occurred at the Congressional baseball game last year. Somebody walked up to a practice field on the last day before the game and asked if they were Democrats or Republicans, and when the response came back “ Republicans,” he opened fire, nearly killing Steve Scalise. That for me was the final straw, the realization that we have become so tribal, so polarized that we have lost the ability to respect people from the other side. Even if I disagree with every one of your issues, I can still respect you as a person, as a fellow human, a fellow American. We’ve lost that basic ability and so I decided the best way I could support our country and help my community would be to run as an independent. We haven’t had one in Congress nationwide in 40 years.
2. It appears that Longmont is not in CO-2, but you have heard from a lot from people who live here?
Actually, if you are a downtown Longmont resident, you are in Ken Buck’s District (CO-4), but if you are on the outer edges of Longmont, you are part of CO-2.
I also don’t only stick to the district, I actually travel all over the state because I feel like I’m also representing all the voters of Colorado and specifically the independents in this state. Independents are the majority in Colorado; there’s 1.2 million independent or unaffiliated voters, 1 million Democrats and a million Republicans. In CD-2, an even higher percentage of voters are independents with the break down being 204,000 Independents to 172,000 Democrats and 132,000 Republicans.
People are pretty angry with where the system has taken us. The only thing the two parties can really get along on anymore is keeping third parties out; that is the one thing they do well together.
3. How do you differentiate your candidacy from either the Democrat or Republican candidates? In other words, why would the average voter want to vote for you versus one of the two parties?
As an independent, I can choose what’s best for the citizens of CD-2 on any issue, not what is best for the Democratic or Republican party.
The second thing is that there’s an unlikely but real possibility that neither party will have the majority after this next election, and an independent, like myself, could end up being the deciding vote on who controls the speakership in the House, and that would mean leverage for this district and for independents in general.
Independents would have this incredible ability to repair the tribal nature of our Congress even a little, get us back to a place where we have leaders like John McCain, whom we just lost to brain cancer. Some people on the right don’t like him because he broke from the Republican party often and some people on the left don’t like him because he was a military hawk, but most people agree that this was someone who knew how to break party lines, reach across the aisle and work together to make policy happen, and we need more people like that in Congress.
4. What do you see as the most critical issues for voters in this upcoming election?
Climate change is the big one, the issue should be bipartisan on really what I like to call a human issue. It’s not a political issue, it’s a human issue when we talk about our health and the world we raise our children in. If you look at the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts, which were the biggest pieces of environmental legislation, it was Richard Nixon, a Republican who put those forward. And the National Park system was created by Roosevelt, also a Republican. And yet right now, because it’s politically the thing to do, a lot of Republicans, who know science is an important factor and know deep down that climate change is not only real but human-caused, have had to bite their lips or pretend otherwise because they’ve been forced into this us versus them mentality.
However, don’t even get me started on the Democrats in this state and how they’ve also turned away from the immediate need to do something right now. Out of nine Federal positions in the state of Colorado, I am the only candidate or sitting Congressperson who has the gumption to stand up for Proposition 112 and put the health of our environment, the protection of our children and older population, and our limited water supply first and foremost beyond money, special interests and short-term thinking. That still astounds me. Not even my Democratic challenger here in lopsided CD-2 has stood up and endorsed Proposition 112. And he needs to.
Healthcare is another big issue. A group of governors, five Democrats, five Republicans, and an independent, created a health care plan that made a lot of sense and was ignored by Congress because you don’t make money from making sense. The Affordable Care Act screwed us because Obama told the drug companies that if they supported the law, they wouldn’t mess with drug prices, which of course is one of the biggest cost drivers of health care. The Democrats also didn’t like the idea of buying across state lines and they haven’t been OK with buying drugs out of Canada, and all 3 of these are silly ideas and major cost drivers that we should deal with.
5. As a follow up question on climate change, have you heard of the concept of a revenue-neutral carbon tax and is that something you would support?
Big time. I’m fiscally responsible and though I think we have all kinds of little pet projects from different senators and congressmen from across the country that we can lose, I think one tax that is really beneficial overall would be a revenue-neutral carbon tax. The amazing thing is, three out of four candidates for CD-2 probably would agree with a revenue-neutral carbon tax, including the libertarian. If you take the party lines away and made human-centered decisions like this one, we would get a lot further.
6. In an article on your website, you mention the idea of a program for all Americans to encourage them to either attend school or participate in a service program. How would these incentives be structured and be paid for?
I think one of the ways to really deal with some of the fundamental flaws in our society would be to think long-term about a lot of different major issues that confront us today. It’s not the next election but the next five elections over the next ten years that we should be taking into account. I think a service component would help particularly in areas of our country where there are pockets of people who don’t really have alternatives, in suppressed economic areas.
We need to create a service plan that every single eighteen-year-old nationwide, male, female, etc, will have the option of entering once they complete high school or turn eighteen. They would serve their country by building skills and giving back either through (1) going to college (2) entering a trade school, which as a society we clearly don’t give enough credence or support but is an honorable and fiscally smart choice or (3) serve in either an armed or unarmed force. What I mean by this final option is you’d still have the option of Army-Navy-Marines-Air Force-Coast Guard but then you also allow for unarmed service by expanding AmeriCorps, Teach for America, the Forest Service and even the National Guard making it an unarmed unit and geared more toward supporting the country during natural disasters and internal emergencies of which we’ll have more and more of as the climate continues to become more erratic and extreme. A lot of the kids who are going to sign up for this are people who don’t otherwise have opportunities to build job skills or to have education and then in the long run, five or ten years, these kids are serving their country, taking personal responsibility, learning skills that they can use later and become somebody who can contribute. That means a service program is an investment in the security and future of this great nation.
7. Would the eighteen-year-old be required to take one of these tracks?
I would love it if they were, but we can’t do that and shouldn’t. I think if it’s highly incentivized it would work. We could offer free community college in exchange for a few years of service. We can find ways to incentivize for the program, I don’t think that is as hard as some people might think.
There’s a lot of kids out there who go down the wrong path because they don’t really have alternatives and something like this would give them that chance.
8. Anything else you would like the people of Longmont and surrounding areas to know about you or your candidacy?
We are very excited to announce a concert on October 22nd at the Fox Theater in Boulder. We’re going to have what is being called the Proxy band and it’s being put on by a group called Proxy Vote for which I am one of the first candidates.
As I mentioned earlier, I am also the only Congressional candidate who’s endorsed Proposition 112 regarding setbacks for fracking. I don’t usually agree with a one size fits all regulation, but I also think we need to take some valuable steps forward and this is a good step in that direction for a myriad of reasons.
Finally, people need to realize there is a serious, credible Independent candidate for U.S. Congress out there and we need their support and excitement and ultimately their vote. The fact that Colorado has a candidate who is interested in actually representing the view of Coloradans rather than of one broken party or another is huge. There is a reason we have a majority of registered independent/unaffiliated voters and we have this amazing moment in time where we can thread the needle and make history. This is the reason 1.2 million Coloradans and over 200,000 residents of CD-2 chose not to affiliate with either major party. This is the moment we’ve all been waiting for, for decades, and it could not come at a more critical time of need for the healing of this country. More than that, I may not agree with every one of the positions held by registered Democrats or Republicans, but I’m always going to listen and I’m actually going to work for both sides, not just my blue cult or red cult, and I will always always put the people of CD-2 above party leadership or moneyed interests. In a district where we are so gerrymandered we can’t “split the vote”, and the reality is that this will basically come down to a head-to-head between myself and the Democrat, everyone on all sides can vote for policy instead of out of fear.
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