Had a phone interview a few days ago with Steve O'Donnell.
He's among those running for the Democratic Party's nomination for the chance to run against Congressman Tim Murphy (PA-18).
I started with some general questions and then we moved on to some issues.
O'Donnell explained his decision to enter the race as not a sudden one but part of a developmental process where he came to the conclusion that "clearly there's a time for change in this country."
He sited a few numbers. He started with the numbers of American troops killed in Iraq (in the thousands) and wounded in Iraq (in the tens of thousands), the numbers of Iraqis dead and wounded (in the hundreds of thousands) and the money wasted in a war we were at best manipulated into and at worst lied into (between $8 and 12 billion - with a "b"). Then there's the trampling of the Constituion, the lost of respect overseas. You get the idea.
It was a cumulative effect, he said.
On the war, he said that the Bush Administration is not done well in meeting the needs of the troops returning home. That the modest gains in Iraq have only come to pass because the Iraqis' political will that underpins the war is evaporating - they're realizing, he said, that the resources coming from the American military won't be available for very much longer. In spending so much time settling old scores, they've wasted an opportunity.
The troops should be removed safely - though he's not confident it'll happen soon. The plan for the troops' removal has to be directed by the military - the Congress' job is to set the policy. It's for the military to implement it. He expects to see this with a new Democratic President and a growing majority in Congress.
We had a long talk about Health Care. He's in favor of (and he said this more than once) "a single payer, not-for-profit, universal health care system." The current system, he said, doesn't need to be repaired, it needs to be completely replaced. It's a system, he said, that's "horribly upside-down."
He's looking at a system where the Doctors and hospitals stay private, but the government (with a 3 or 3.1 percent raise in income tax) pays the medical bills. Once the profit motive is taken out of the system, he said, it would save a substantial amount of money.
We got into a shorter discussion of some hot button issues.
He's a big fan of the Equal protection guarantees in the Constitution and as such feels that in order for the Constitution to truly offer equal protection, the same rights must be extended to all citizens. It follows that if a straight couple can get married, then a gay couple should also be able to get married. Anything else is discriminatory and contrary to the Constitution's equal protection provisions.
He's also pro-choice. He said that Roe v Wade has less to do with abortion than it has about privacy. Once the right to privacy has been established, a woman's right to choose follows closely after. He said that right is fairly absolute in the first trimester - but once the fetus is viable (and this is from the text of Roe v Wade) the government does have some say.
We ended the interview with him casually pointing out how Congressman Murphy voted with George W. Bush "100% if the time on key issues."
Well now, who would've guessed that??