I am starting what will be called “Tea Time” for Patriot not Partisan. I will have tea and chat with some of the most influential and life changing people I know. I couldn’t think of a better person to have tea with than Marie Newman.
Marie Newman is running in one of the most watched congressional races in the country. Her opponent, incumbent Congressman Dan Lipinski,
is a Democrat in name only. He has openly shown his disdain for the LGBTQ community, has voted against Women’s rights, and the rights of the Elderly. He has also sided with Donald Trump on many issues and refused to side with President Obama on various issues. In essence, Congressman Lipinski is a Democrat, because in the 3rd Illinois District, having a D by your name is the difference between winning and losing. The Republican opponent in that district is a Nazi (I am not joking, he is a real Nazi). Marie Newman is a beacon of hope to many in the community, because a win for her is a win for the community and also the nation. She has received endorsements from many of Congressman Lipinski’s peers in Congress, and the likes of household names like Patricia Arquette, Debra Messing, Jennifer Beals, and the holy grail of empowerment Gloria Steinem. She has also been endorsed by entities such as Planned Parenthood, Illinois Federation of Teachers, and The Illinois Council SEIU, Our Revolution Illinois, and a host of others. (You can view her endorsements at marienewmanforcongress.com/endorsements).
Marie is not a career politician, but a small businesswoman and a true entrepreneur. She is also a human rights activist. This puts her in the perfect place to serve her community, someone with a true understanding of making a dollar work and the compassion to understand when it doesn’t. Marie has consulted for large companies as well, such as Humana Discover, and Advocate Healthcare. When one of her children became the victim of bullying Marie teamed up with Sears Holding and became the Managing Director of Team up to Stop Bullying. Marie, in my opinion, is poised to become one of the best congressional members in America because not only does she understand the problems of her constituents, she has lived them, and has fought for better solutions her entire life.
Ken Mejia Beal: So my first question is why do you want to represent this district?
Marie Newman: I'm from this district. I was born in Beverly and I now live in LaGrange so I'm a third districter. I know a lot about this because I have such deep roots here with family and friends and neighbors and I really understand the problems and it's really clear what we have. At a year and a half ago, when I started this whole journey people had asked me to run expressly for that reason is that I understood the issues and had already a lot of acuity around political issues in this district. We have the Lipinski monarchy. This has been for the last 36 years now, 22 years of Bill Lipinski and now 13 or 14 years of Dan. We've got the monarchy and then we've got the Chicago machine supporting it on the southwest side and the south west side is kind of the last bastion of the machine. And if we can break that up, that would be fantastic. And obviously the only person that could do it was a woman. It really is, like there's no way it would work in this political environment to have a man break up this machine. Not only have I been asked several time to do it, but I feel like my background is a convergence of what a congress person should look like. So I have a business background, I run small businesses, I've been a leader in business, I've also run a national non-profit author and had done a lot of rights advocacy work. So that blend allows you to relate to anybody really. And so I think that that's why people had recruited me to run. And I think that that's why I felt comfortable saying yes upon doing the research and then ultimately saying yes, and filing almost a year ago in April.
KM- I know something that a lot of people in this district worry about and all across the country is the gun violence. And I wanted to know what are your ideas on gun reform and gun control? And how would you vote on those issues?
MN-Yeah, that's really easy for me. So I'm the former spokesperson for Moms Demand Action of Illinois, the gun safety advocacy group that works on laws at the state level, municipal as well as the federal level. They've been around for five years and I stepped down from a volunteer position so that I could do this. So that's been a great grounding in what my passions and advocacies are around on reform. So for me, this is really easy. We need revive the assault ban and only allow people in the military and police officers and folks that are in law enforcement to have automatic weapons. That's just really easy. So we need to revive the assault ban that is already out there and on the books and we can bring it back or we could have a new law that would not allow anybody to have automatic weapons other than law enforcement, military. Two is we need universal background checks. Some states have it and some states don't. And therefore, there's all these loopholes and people can bring guns back into our state. We have two states that have very loose gun laws Wisconsin and Indiana and so all the guns come to us, which really contributes a dramatically to our gun violence problem. It's not just that we have other issues in specific areas, we also have suburban areas that are problematic. Lyons sells more guns than literally anyone else in the Chicago area. So it is not an urban suburban thing, it’s an American thing. There's gun violence everywhere that we have issues, not just with gangs or shootings or criminals. It's everywhere. And the reason is we have too many guns out there and it's really simple and we have to stop dancing around this issue on there now. I'm very happy for responsible gun owners to own a gun. But if you have mental illness, you are a criminal or terrorist, you're a domestic abuser or for whatever reason aren't responsible with your gun. You shouldn't own a gun. But if you're a responsible gun owner and you want to hunt or have it in your home for protection or target practice, God Bless. But if you are challenged with something, you should not own them.
KB- I think most Americans agree with you, it's just really common sense gun reform
MN-Yes it is, in this with the NRA it wants to divide the country when most of the NRA members like something like eighty percent of them want universal background checks. That's very telling. So what that tells me is that there is just a zeitgeist inside of primarily Republicans in Congress that are unwilling to bring it to the floor. A year and a half ago when that bill came to the floor, the Democrats did the sit in Lipinski decided to sit out, the only Democrat that didn't sit in. So that's pitiful and sad. It makes me very angry. But beyond that, the fact that Paul Ryan would not bring the bill to the floor, it is beyond appalling, given that he's received millions from the NRA.
KB- You talked a lot about big money in politics. Should big money be in politics?
MN- No. Before I ever decided to run, I was angry about money in politics. It's ridiculous that politicians have to spend half their time on the phone or fundraisers. That's ridiculous. We could be doing a lot better things with that time .And plus that money could be curing cancer, could be stopping criminal violence, it could be doing a lot of things, right? So I am infuriated that people have to spend time fundraising. We should have some small dollar system. In fact, there's, there's a bill out there, a congressmen put together, that I think is viable. Ultimately I would like it to be a fair share of deal where everybody got the same amount and you get three to six months, like they do in the United Kingdom Everybody go and have at it. Its super fair.
KM-Do you think it would work in America?
MN-I'm not sure it would be that specifically wouldn’t work. We have to do something significantly different. The billions of dollars that go into a political fundraising is not only time consuming, it is a suck on everybody. The folks in this district should not have to give me money to run.
KM-I can honestly say I think for big money in politics, why the voting happens the way it does in this country, when we do a elect our representatives to go to Congress, if they are in the pocket of their donors, I don't believe that things are going to happen for the constituents that they're supposed to represent. My next question, speaking of constituents is you have been a hero to the LGBTQ community.
MN -oh, that's funny
KM- You are! What makes you step up to the plate, especially running against Lipinski who is very vocal about his anti –LGBTQ stance?
MN- Sure. Long before I found out that my daughter was transgender, I had been working for LGBTQ rights. I mean this has been a volunteer passion of mine for many years, but three years ago after a very long depression and severe social anxiety and severe depression and an actual been hospitalization , my daughter came out as transgender and became her authentic self. And so that would have such a great impact on my family. I decided to be an advocate for Lurie children's gender identity clinic and had done quite a bit of advocacy around that. And so, that was one of the many reasons. I believe this, LGBTQ rights are human rights are civil rights. We should all have the same rights. To that end, I felt like the day after Trump, it wasn't just LGBTQ folks or women it was everybody's rights that were under attack. I never get depressed, like I did after the election. I am a very positive person, but after Trump won that election I sat in pajamas all day. I knew I had to get off of the sidelines and get involved. I will fight hard and I'm very passionate and no one will outwork me for sure.
KM-Well, I will say the day after Election Day, I crawled out from under my box of Franzia and that's when I decided to start writing politically and get more involved with my community politically. And I found that Democrats and Republicans use different language, how will you speak the language of the Republicans in your constituency?
MN-Here's what we all agree on what hasn't been addressed by the congressman that's currently in the third district, we all want working families to thrive and we all want a bigger middle class and he has done nothing to help either. So that's one place where whether you're a Democrat and independent or a Republican, Libertarian, Green Party, whatever you are, we all agree that working families need a fair deal and we have not had a fair deal in 40 years. We need to get a livable wage, we need $15, we need healthcare for all, benefits, and you need affordable childcare. It's just really simple. We can all agree on those four things. So if we all talk about it and what the objective is versus saying that I'm, I'm purple and your orange or wherever you are, we're get a lot farther faster.
KM- Gloria Steinem, she endorsed you. How did that make you feel?
MN-Oh my goodness. I'm a little shell shocked when it happened. Um, I was a little shell shocked. I have to tell you, I didn't know quite what to do with it because it was such an honor and it was surprised. So friends of mine that were on the finance committee introduced us, and she had interestingly been already watching this race and I thought she's sitting in New York watching this race because she had probably been aware of Lipinski’s horrible record on healthcare, on women's rights and LGBTQ rights, on working families rights because you know, Ms. Steinem is a really big advocate for working families. And so she knew how bad his record was on every front, so she had been watching the race anyway. But then when she started to get to know how I was conducting the campaign she decided to jump in. So beyond honored that doesn’t quite cover it, I’m proud.
KM-That is a huge accomplishment. Speaking of accomplishments, one of your platforms is job focused education, what do you plan on doing to accomplish that?
MN-There's three pieces to it. One has to do with re- looking at how kids in school learn about careers. When I was in school. I used to have career days frequently and people would learn what an accountant did, a salesperson, marketing person, plumber, and an electrician. That doesn't really happen anymore. We have to start doing that and very young age, like fifth, sixth, seventh grade, so kids start to get passionate about something sooner. We also have to bring the trades back into schools, vocational skills because those have been taken out for funding issues. We have to get those back in school. We also have to start thinking about how we take those ideas about careers and passions and push them through into community colleges and use our community colleges and our community centers better. There are a thousands of community colleges in the US that we don't leverage enough. Not everybody should go to a four year school, I’m just putting it out there and all of these parents that are forcing their kids to get a four year degree, when their kids don’t want a four year degree , it’s not going to work for everyone. It will be a waste of their time and their money. What I often talk about is that if we get smarter about the trades and all started implementing that in schools, students will learn a lot. But then also by the time they get to a higher education level, whether it is a one year program, we need to meet with those colleges and administrators and those are the building curriculum alongside employers and government and the schools themselves. So that we build curriculum that leads to real jobs that when you get out of that one, that six week, that one year or two year or four year program or degree that you actually will be qualified to get that job. Because part of the big gap, there's 6,000,000 jobs in the country right now that are unfilled. 1,000,000 of them are construction jobs because we haven't trained plumbers, carpenters, electricians very well and we don't have enough of them. Another 5,000,000 or 6,000,000 are folks that don't have middle skills, folks that are customer care agents are med techs or laptops. And then the other piece is that we have not had that cooperation between employers and universities to understand what are those skills that employers want that you should incorporate into their curriculum. So let's start all getting together convening. I talking about this. So kids, when they get out with this degree, it's meaningful and they get a job.
KM-So this is a wrap , but I have one question-If there was one song that played every time you entered the room , what would it be ?
MN- There's this really old song that I love because I’m a competitor. .There's this song called “Hold on, I’m Coming” by Sam and Dave. In my head when I see Lipinski, I hear that song and I think “I’m Coming for you”. But on the positive side I hear that song and think of my constituents and think I’m coming to help.
Contributing Editor: Ken Mejia-Beal
Ken Mejia-Beal is a concerned citizen, who cares deeply for his country. Ken wants to make the world a better place for all people. A capitalist with a heart who believes in free thinking and human rights. Ken wants to use his words in order to shine a light on political ventures in order to allow those without knowledge to form strong positions through fact based conversation. Ken resides in DuPage County, within Illinois. He has ambitions to motivate those around him to communicate differing ideas while remaining civil.