Pacific Green Party candidate Dan Pulju is running for the U.S. Senate. He was interviewed by KATU.
WHO ARE YOU? I'm a working-class Oregonian, University of Oregon graduate, poll interviewer, and seasoned anti-war activist and party organizer.
WHY ARE YOU RUNNING? I'm fed up with Federal government corruption, and I'm determined to do something about it.
WHAT MAKES YOU UNIQUELY QUALIFIED TO BE A UNITED STATES SENATOR? I'm an anti-war activist with a deep and thorough understanding of our hegemony-based foreign policy and how it has eroded our rights and prosperity here at home. I'm an outsider, not part of the two-party system and I can't be bought.
AS A U.S. SENATOR, HOW WILL YOU HELP OREGONIANS WITH THE IMPACTS OF INFLATION? Our economic troubles began more than two years ago with the misguided responses to Covid, and they continue because of Joe Biden's reckless trade war. We need to stop intervening in the Ukraine war and let global trade return to normal. Inflation is our most pressing issue, and the main focus of my campaign is helping people understand we can end it quickly by ending this trade war. The Fed keeps raising rates but that keeps failing to work, and won't unless we sink into a recession.
WHAT WILL YOU DO TO HELP OREGONIANS WITH THE IMPACT OF HIGH GAS PRICES? Ending the trade war will quickly lower gas prices. Attempting stimulus payments or other subsidies is the last thing that would lower prices. We are already in the backwash of the massive stimulus outlays during the coronavirus lockdowns. This question appears to be about gasoline, but if Washington implements its plan to start exporting LNG to Europe to replace Russian gas from the damaged Nord Stream pipelines, natural gas prices will likely increase here. There may even be shortages. There is an enormous disparity between corporate interests and the genuine public interest.
ARE MASS SHOOTINGS, LIKE THE MOST RECENT ONES IN BUFFALO, NEW YORK AND UVADLY, TEXAS, A UNIQUELY AMERICAN PROBLEM? WHY OR WHY NOT? No. Mass shootings are a typical feature of many countries the United States has invaded or otherwise destabilized, such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and Ukraine.
AS A U.S. SENATOR, HOW WILL YOU HELP REDUCE THE NUMBER OF MASS SHOOTINGS IN THE UNITED STATES? I have to challenge the implied premise that mass shootings are a pressing issue for the Federal government to address. While they are tragic, they are also a small fraction of the overall number of gun homicides in this country, approximately 1000 compared to 20,000 in 2021. The media sensationalizes them for profit, raising their profile and exaggerating the risk to the public. It also exploits them for political gain when convenient, but ignores politically inconvenient details like the Sonnenrad sported by the Buffalo shooter at a time when it was pointedly ignoring similarly neo-Nazi elements of the Ukrainian military. I think it's likely that a significant number of mass shooters are motivated at least partly by this lavish media attention.
It matters less to a victim of gun violence whether it's a mass shooting or the less newsworthy kind. According to World Population Review, the continental US was not (as of 2019) among the 10 countries with the highest rate of gun homicides per capita, but the territories of Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands were. That's not interesting to media, though it does pay some attention to the high rates in Mexico and El Salvador. Much of that is gang-related, and a significant portion in the US is too, though it's hard to measure precisely. What's not hard to see is how much of it is clustered in dense urban areas, particularly poorer neighborhoods. Shortly after I left the Washington, D.C. area in 1989, it became known as the "murder capital" of the US. Nowadays Chicago has a similar reputation for gun violence.
To answer this question in the context of overall gun violence, poverty and gangs are a direct result of our country's misguided War on Drugs. Federal policies have failed to stop high-level trafficking, instead making it more profitable. while punishing petty dealers and users so severely that they are effectively banished for life from all but the lowest economic castes. This socioeconomic divide underlies not only crime, but homelessness and dependency on government services. It is both expensive and counterproductive, even disregarding our country's infamous incarceration rate. Oregon's Measure 110 in 2020 was a wise step toward solving the problem, but there's a long way to go to dismantle the remaining structures of institutionalization. The Federal government needs to take the same step by overhauling the controlled substance schedule to decriminalize possession of small amounts, and taking a more serious and less corruptible approach to stop trafficking.
On the economic end, the Federal government needs to end the trade war and allow our economy to start recovering. During this recovery, we need to restore our grassroots, small business economy and redevelop our outsourced manufacturing sectors.
What the Feds don't need to do is impose more gun regulations. States are already free to take effective and appropriate measures like Oregon's Extreme Risk Protection Order law. I agree that the Second Amendment protects responsible gun owners from intrusion, and the conservative supermajority on the Supreme Court would overturn attempts by Congress to strengthen regulations in any case. Rather, Congress should attend to its constitutional duty to promote the general welfare of all Americans.
IN THE DEBATE OVER GUN REGULATIONS, DO YOU SEE ANY POSSIBILITY OF FINDING COMMON GROUND? There is little genuine debate taking place, but plenty of rhetoric, distortion and politicking. Extremists talking past each other and seeking to force their views into policy. Measure 114 is the latest misguided appeal to bureaucratic salvation. (Note: The Pacific Green Party has voted to endorse a "yes" vote on Measure 114)
WOULD YOU VOTE FOR A NATIONAL BAN ON ABORTION? WHY OR WHY NOT? No. Bodily autonomy and informed consent are human rights, never to be infringed by the state.
WHAT IS THE BIGGEST LESSON FROM THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC? That bodily autonomy and informed consent are human rights, never to be infringed by the state. As you may guess, I am pro choice on both abortion rights and vaccine mandates. The state has no standing to intervene or coerce without a civil consensus at the very least. There is no consensus. As with the gun issue, there has been no genuine debate. One side has tried to force its views on the other through censorship and force.
WHAT WILL BE A BIGGER ISSUE FOR OREGONIANS 5 YEARS FROM NOW, AND WHAT WILL YOU DO AS A U.S. SENATOR TO ADDRESS IT? The American petro empire is slowly collapsing, and this will radically and dramatically affect the country's net worth. Even the poorest Americans will start finding out how good they had it before. If you think things are bad now, just wait.
I won't wait five years, because the solution starts now. We need to reverse "outsourcing" and bring back our domestic manufacturing. We need policies to revive our small businesses, and we need to rid our bureaucracy and Congress of corporate control. We need to end the Forever Wars and sign non-encroachment treaties with other major powers. We'll negotiate fair trade, not free trade, and our so-called adversaries will become our partners in prosperity.
DO YOU SEE ANY SERIOUS THREATS TO OUR DEMOCRACY? IF SO, WHAT ARE THEY AND WHAT WILL YOU DO TO STOP THEM? Democrats and Republicans have taken turns accusing each other of cheating in presidential elections. The Democrats even set the stage for Biden's trade war with their nonstop insistence that Russia had somehow helped Trump beat them in 2016. Then in 2020, in a sudden reversal that would shock Orwell himself, they started insisting that questioning the legitimacy of an election is akin to domestic terrorism.
To a Green, this question is like asking if professional wrestling is real or staged. Here's what's real: our electoral processes are tightly controlled by the major parties and the massive corporate and financial interests whom they represent. In many states, including ours, one-party rule prevails and democracy barely exists to be threatened in the first place.
Our candidate for US Senate in North Carolina, Matthew Hoh, was thrown off the ballot without cause this year by the 3-2 Democrat majority on the state's elections board. The courts reversed the decision, but this undoubtedly cost his campaign considerable resources. Our 2020 presidential candidate, Howie Hawkins, was forced off the ballot in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin on minor technicalities, again by Democrats. Both of those were swing states in that election.
WOULD YOU MAKE BIPARTISANSHIP A PRIORITY? WHY OR WHY NOT? The very word "bipartisan" is a commitment to the corruption of the so-called "two party" system. According to Ballotpedia, 38% of voters aren't registered Republican or Democrat. Of those who are, figure in the "lesser evil" voters, and the ones who join them in one-party states to vote in the primaries that decide the general election, and I believe fewer than half the electorate genuinely align with either of them. Where's the democracy when the majority is unrepresented? I believe most Americans are sick of the two-party system and ready to be rid of it.
WHO IS YOUR HERO, AND WHY? I don't have a hero, and I'm not a hero to anyone else either. People need to be self-reliant and learn to empower themselves. Politically, they need to learn to take action on their own and pursue their own interests, rather than pinning their hopes on duopoly figures who will only sell them out. It's not easy, but there's no other way.