Wikinews holds Reform Party USA presidential candidates forum

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Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Logo for the Reform Party of the United States of America.
Image: Reform Party National Committee.

Three men are currently seeking the presidential nomination of the Reform Party of the United States of America: small business owner Andre Barnett, Earth Intelligence Network CEO Robert Steele, and former college football coach Robby Wells. Wikinews reached out to these candidates and asked each of them five questions about their campaigns. There were no space limits placed on the responses, and no candidate was exposed to another's responses before making their own. The answers are posted below in unedited form for comparison of the candidates.

The Reform Party is a United States third party that was founded in 1995 by industrialist Ross Perot. Perot ran as the party's first presidential nominee in 1996, and won over eight percent of the popular vote, the highest percentage for a third party candidate since. In 1998, professional wrestler Jesse Ventura ran on the Reform Party ticket and was elected Governor of Minnesota. The party fell in prominence during the lead-up to the 2000 presidential election when it was plagued by infighting between ideological factions. In 2000, paleoconservative Pat Buchanan won the presidential nomination, and went on to receive only 0.4 percent of the popular vote in the general election. In 2004, the party opted to endorse consumer advocate Ralph Nader, but ended the year nearly bankrupt. In 2008, Ted Weill won the party's presidential nomination, but appeared on the ballot in only one state and won a total of 481 votes.

The party is currently trying to rebuild and has opened several new state chapters. They will attempt to appear on the ballot in more states for the 2012 presidential election. The party is expected to nominate its presidential ticket during the National Convention this summer.

The candidates

Candidates for the Reform Party USA presidential nomination
Image: Andre Barnett. Andre Barnett of Poughkeepsie, New York served in the U.S. Army until he was injured in a helicopter incident in 2000. Since that time, he has worked as a fitness model, has assisted several federal agencies and corporations in information technology services, and founded the company WiseDome, Inc. He considers himself a conservative.
Image: Reform Party National Committee. Robert Steele of Oakton, Virginia is CEO of the non-profit Earth Intelligence Network, which promotes "public intelligence in the public interest". He previously served as a Marine Corps infantry officer, national intelligence officer, and in Marine Corps intelligence. For his presidential campaign, he focuses on his plans for electoral reform, the creation of a coalition cabinet, and the creation of an open forum for participatory democracy.
Image: Robby Wells. Robby Wells of Charlotte, North Carolina is the former head football coach for Savannah State University and former assistant coach for Benedict College, South Carolina State University, and the University of South Carolina. He joined the Army National Guard in 2006, and has worked as a motivational speaker. He bases his campaign on a platform called the "gameplan".

Forum

Question 1

Wikinews waves Left.png((WIKINEWSWikinews waves Right.png)) Why did you decide to run for president?

Andre Barnett: Though it may seem a bit selfish, my decision was more of a conviction of heart, mind and spirit after seeing what my own family and friends were enduring during this economic downturn. As I began speaking with my fellow veterans and hearing about the lost jobs, homes, and families many issues came into focus. The time I spent living overseas in different countries allowed me to studying their economies, governments, military capabilities, and learn what other countries really think about the US.
We can no longer accept the notion we are on a path of no return. Our government has an obligation to the people of this nation to address the needs and concerns they are facing.
Robert Steele: Multiple reasons. The economy killed my business, so I've been working on Electoral Reform. The Occupy movement raised my hopes that America was ready to wake up. I had also been sickened by the Republican clown show. The time seemed right for something better. While there are politicians I admire, none of them were offering the public a coherent, complete approach to restoring the Republic and the integrity of our government. That's what I'm looking for, and that's why I decided to run. Some will say I am a long shot but I actually believe that We the People can come together and win this in unconventional ways, and of course I believe very strongly that someone has to say what needs to be said: we live in a two-party tyranny, all three branches of the government have been captured by banks and corporations--hence the US Government no longer represents We the People. And – this is the big one – we have ONE SHOT, between now and 4 July 2012, to force the issue of Electoral Reform and take our government back.
Robby Wells: There are several reasons why I chose to run for President. I chose to run after observing the path our elected officials have been taking. It is obvious that the policies of the Democratic Party and the Republican Party are not effective anymore. The 14 million that are unemployed, the 25 million that are underemployed, the 49 million that live in poverty, and the 149 million that are considered low income is proof that our two party system has failed. It is time for America to have strong leadership from someone that has the best interest of the citizens of this country. It is time for our country to move in a different direction. It is time for our country to make a "Real Change". I believe that I am that candidate because I understand the pressures that 99% of our citizens face. Most of the top candidates for the GOP and President Obama are wealthy, and are out of touch with the vast majority of this country. I am just like most Americans. I consider myself middle class, have been unemployed, have been underemployed, and woke up every morning concerned about how I was going to provide for my family. Just like millions of Americans, I felt like the American Dream had been replaced with an Economic Nightmare. Someone had to take a stand. I love my country, and I know that my plan, "The Gameplan," will bring our country back to economic greatness. You can view "The Gameplan" on my campaign web site : www.electrobbywells.com.

Question 2

Wikinews waves Left.png((WIKINEWSWikinews waves Right.png)) Why did you choose the Reform Party?

Andre Barnett: The Reform Party the party of solutions. This party is ready to propose to America a more excellent debate on the issues, a united and all-encompassing solution to address the issues of this great nation.
Robert Steele: Of the three excluded parties that are credible in America--Libertarian, Green, and Reform--only the Reform Party leadership was interested in a "complete" approach to reform. The others focus on important issues but don't go far enough -- Libertarians focus on civil liberties and the Constitution, and really do not think in strategic holistic terms; Greens have a lot of promise, and I am watching Jill Stein with interest, but they don't have a coherent approach to governance either. The Reform Party is aptly named by its founder, Ross Perot, and after overcoming years of internal legal battles is now ready to come out and represent ALL of us, or as they put it, everyone between the two extremes. The USA needs the Reform Party now.
Robby Wells: I chose the Reform Party for several reasons. In 1992, Ross Perot ran for President, and he recieved almost 20% of the vote as an Independent Candidate. In 1996, Mr. Perot had formed the Reform Party, and he once again ran on that ticket. I supported Ross Perot, and I believe that he was about 15 years ahead of his time. I truly believe that America is sick and tired of being sick and tired of our elected Republicans and Democrats actions in Washington. We have too many politicians that go to Washington trying to keep their job in lieu of doing their job. The Reform Party believes in balancing the Federal Budget, spending only what we have, creating jobs in America for Americans, government reform (term limits), and tax reform. Their philosophies are in line with my philosophies, and it seemed like a great fit when the leadership of the Reform Party contacted me and asked me to be a part of their party.

Question 3

Wikinews waves Left.png((WIKINEWSWikinews waves Right.png)) Why would you be a better candidate than your two opponents for the nomination?

Andre Barnett: I do not intend to engage in "1 upper" politics. I am about the movement this party is moving towards. I am interested in redirecting this conversation towards the solutions we have to offer and working with the other candidates to show a stability this country is longing for.
Robert Steele: The other two candidates for the Reform Party nomination are good-hearted individuals who share my commitment to reform. I have the experience to back it up. I have a deep understanding of how government corruption works and what can be done about it; an understanding of why Occupy matters and how to work with them; and I know how to address patterns of failure, how to recover the substance of governance, how respond to legitimate grievances, and how to begin to roll back much more that is hurting this country. This is all discussed in my book, ELECTION 2008: Lipstick on the Pig (Earth Intelligence Network, 2008), on sale at Amazon and also free online.
I have a fully articulated strategy that we need now: Electoral Reform, a Coalition Cabinet and a Balanced Budget announced by 4 July 2011, and a commitment to True Cost Economics--this is an approach that seeks to create a We the People Reform Coalition that is attractive to moderates from both parties, to Independents, and to all the parties excluded from US politics today, Libertarians and Greens included. I am running less as a Reform Party candidate and more as a team-building candidate. I have already named my preferred Cabinet members—subject of course to changes as the coalition evolves—and I am well on my way to crowd-sourcing a balanced budget that connects the true needs and priorities of the public with their money – the two-party tyranny has been using the public's money to enrich themselves and their cronies across America (not just Wall Street); the two-party tyranny is out of touch with ethics, the public, and reality. I have the capacity to engage Independents and all others with a new direction not offered elsewhere – not from any party including the Democratic Party.
Robby Wells: Coaching is a complex job involving strategic thinking, leadership ability, obtaining and keeping respect, and judging the abilities of the people you have at your disposal. My career in coaching has well prepared me for a leadership position in government. A good coach knows that his players have skills he doesn't have, but he understands what abilities they DO have. He uses good judgement in choosing the right people for the task at hand, and knows how to use them effectively. He knows when to let them do their job while he watches, and when to step in and take a hands-on approach.
As president, I will bring the same mentality to the White House. I will look across the political spectrum and choose the best partisan and nonpartisan people; people with knowledge, expertise, and credibility who have already earned your trust, for all cabinet positions. And I will use my long years of leadership to know when to let them do their job, and when to step in and take a more direct role to get the most out of that team for the American people. Because we all deserve a White House that can go up against America's problems and WIN - not fumble at 4th and ten.

Question 4

Wikinews waves Left.png((WIKINEWSWikinews waves Right.png)) If nominated, what will you do to gain ballot access?

Andre Barnett: I will be working to unify this party during the course of this campaign. With unification we will better be able to utilize the ground game for petitioning. I also believe I will be able to acquire other ballot access lines.
Robert Steele: BEFORE anyone is elected, I am working hard to present every single politician up for reelection with an Electoral Reform Pledge. I am the one who presented the original Statement of Demand and Electoral Reform Act to Occupy in NYC. It has since been crowd-sourced and attracted a range of very serious proponents from across the country. Tomorrow there is an Inter-Occupy telephone conference call to discuss Occupy's morphing toward political activism. Our goal is simple: to get an Occupy political liaison in each of the 50 states, and to then recruit citizen delegations in each of the Congressional districts. BEFORE Congress returns to Washington in January, I want a simple table showing where every one of the Representatives and Senators stands on Electoral Reform: red, yellow, or green. The rest is up to the public.
Ideally, Congress would be forced to pass the Electoral Reform Act in January 2012, in time for the first half of the provisions to apply to November 2012. I think Americans Elect--a good idea corrupted in its implementation--will be litigated into oblivion by the two-party tyranny. We have to force Congress to be honest. The documents can be seen online.
AT A MINIMUM and in time for November 2012 I want Congress to mandate that all states be required to put the presidential candidates on the state ballot for each and every party that has achieved national party status. In addition, Electoral College votes should be apportioned across the party spectrum, not in a winner takes all manner, but that's going to be harder. Both of these corrections are Constitutional and within the power of Congress to enact.
The corruption of the electoral process at both the state and federal levels has made a mockery of our Founding Fathers, the concept of a Republic, and all because our elected politicians and their appointees are completely lacking in integrity. They have sold out their public for a bit of gold. If I am nominated, I will work with Occupy and others (veterans, young people who should have the vote) to SHUT DOWN any Presidential debate that does not have me and other third party candidates fully integrated into anything televised over public air waves. Litigation has not worked in the past because the courts--including the Supreme Court---just go along... What will work is Occupy. Organized people will defeat organized money every time. Now is that time.
Robby Wells: I have friends and business colleagues all over the country. I am relying on them, and volunteers to help us gain access on the ballaots in each state. Every state has different guidelines, and I am relying on the people of our country to take a stand for our future by helping us get on every state's ballot. We will be holding a petition drive to make this a reality. The Reform Party is already on the ballot in five states, and has easy access in another 25 states. That leaves us some hard work to gain access on all 50 states, but I believe the people of America are ready to be heard.

Question 5

Wikinews waves Left.png((WIKINEWSWikinews waves Right.png)) What are some of your policy proposals, and how will you implement them as President?

Andre Barnett: My policy is based around all-encompassing solutions. It is impossible for us to pick out one portion of the larger overshadowing issue and try to fix just that part. The economy is connected to healthcare which is connected to entitlements, which is connected to jobs, which is connected to education, etc… I will provide you with an excerpt of what is on my site.
Enhancing Health Care
Healthcare in the US is so overpriced in comparison to other modern developed nations. Our healthcare system, though we claim it to be the best in the world, is out reach for too many that will never experience its benefits. Insurance companies have been able to drive up cost as well as double dipping billers (doctors and doctor’s groups) have taken advantage of the general public. With this in mind many who cannot afford healthcare have no choice but to take advantage of whatever treatment they can get and the bill is passed to the rest of the tax payers.
The medical industry justifies the cost by flashing new technology costs and pharmaceutical development cost. Truth be told, that cost is recouped many times over as physicians receive kickbacks from prescribing various drugs in their infancy stages that have not been fully tested. I am aware of this from firsthand experience. Here is what I support:
  • Healthcare insurance premiums need to be regulated and driven down to affordable levels. This need not be the battle of the federal government as it is one of the major factors in the exploding cost. Intra-business sector checks and balances is one of the best ways to manage any flocculation in cost. Allowing business to bear the burden of the premium cost (not pass it onto the employee) would allow for much lower premiums and also elimination of the government’s role in these negotiation processes. This in turn would allow for the only foreseeable tax deduction for corporations lowering the tax rate to below the 12% threshold.
This is capitalism in its truest form and the only way to dramatically reduce the size of government. This also permits all family members to be covered and fewer uninsured greatly increasing the pool size driving down cost. To allow small businesses to take part in these savings, they would be placed in the same pools with larger companies to drive down cost even further. What better way to negotiate lower premiums than to have business sectors performing the negotiations of prices they are willing to pay.
  • Healthcare funded by the government should be subject to the same rules as the GSA, in that the lowest price offered to any customer must be the price made available to the government for provisioning to those not working (for a finite period of time). This would be in the cases where an employee has been laid off and cannot afford healthcare insurance on their own and would last for the duration of unemployment.
Though this is only a portion of the plan, I am sure you can see where I am going. Reducing the government’s role in this entire process and letting the economy perform as it was meant to, that is what I support. This process should be adapted to all sectors to eliminate the government’s role as a micromanaging resource hog. http://bit.ly/t2th4j
Robert Steele: I am the only candidate--including the incumbent—who has a concept of operations for modern governance. I have presented much of this in my chapters in ELECTION 2008: Lipstick on the Pig, and point to The Substance of Governance as well as Candidates on the Issues, where my populist and centrist views are clearly outlined in the summary section for each issue area. However, for the purposes of your excellent question, I will summarize my policy proposals at four levels.
At the highest strategic level, America must restore integrity to its electoral process, its government, and its commercial community. This integrity demands that we apply True Cost Economics--calculating the cost of all externalities and of now devalued precious elements such as drinkable water--in every transaction. A Balanced Budget is what sane responsible people do--for the two-party tyranny and its banking and media partners to have sanctioned by omission the FACT that we have been borrowing a third of our federal budget each year for over thirty years shames me for my prolonged ignorance, and angers me as a responsible citizen. That stops immediately. Governance with integrity is not possible under a winner take all "do as I say" system. A Coalition Cabinet that can achieve responsible informed consensus is essential. I have already selected my Cabinet, and I believe you will find the specifics very revealing about both my competence and my ethics. The Federal Reserve will be turned over to someone like Ron Paul, and as soon as he has done what needs to be done, he will be my nominee for Chief Justice of the Supreme Court--I anticipate at least four justices finding compelling reasons to resign from the court in my first two years in office. For one third of what we spend on war we can achieve a prosperous world at peace--I am fed up with the corruption in the military, prison, health, and energy complexes. Our coalition administration will be one that makes decisions based on public intelligence in the public interest.
At the operational level, we need to eliminate substantial portions of the existing government including the Department of Homeland Security, the Internal Revenue Agency, half or more of the Departments of Education, Health & Human Services, and etcetera. All of it needs to be scrubbed. The US Government is not a "government," but rather a series of Cabinet Departments and agency stove-pipes that exist to protect "budget share" for their stakeholders--their stakeholders are NOT the public as one might expect, but rather those that receive public funds via a Congress that discounts the Treasury by 95%, earmarking treasure for things we do not need and cannot afford, solely to "earn" their 5% "cut" (bribe). I have written extensively on how to restructure the government and reallocate our precious funds. I would start by appointing two Deputies. The first--and Michael Bloomberg gets this job if he wants it--will be Deputy for Education, Intelligence, and Research, responsible for stripping two thirds of the money from the ineffective corrupt secret intelligence world, and applying that toward holistic integrative education and research such that we become a Smart Nation, a concept I developed in 1994. The second will be Deputy for Global Engagement, with oversight of commerce, diplomacy, and the military. Two thirds of the military budget will be stripped down and away from corporate vapor-ware, with half being pure savings that lower the debt, and the other half funding what we need to be credible and competitive world-wide. Our infantry, 4% of the force, takes 80% of the casualties and receives 1% of the Pentagon budget. I will redirect 20% of the surviving military budget to the infantry, sponsor a 450-ship Navy that is truly expeditionary, closes down all of our overseas bases without exception, create a long-haul Air Force, and end our dependence on very vulnerable and costly satellites for all communications. If should mention that in ending personal and business taxes—in fact most taxes—we will be substituting the Automatic Payment Transaction (APT) Tax, that yields a much higher revenue stream across a broader base, while drastically reducing the contributions of individuals and small businesses.
At the tactical level--the grassroots level where America is nearly comatose, I want to work with the Governors, whom I will elevate to be co-equal to the Senate as an advisory chamber--there is a great deal to be done. 46 million Americans are on food stamps today, we have destroyed not just the middle class but also the once proud and vital senior blue collar class, and we have lost an entire generation if not too to an educational system that is mediocre at best, pathologically inept at worst. I have been developing a plan with a former Deputy Secretary of Labor to fund a full year of employment and training for every unemployed American, using a mix of academic, private sector, and military induction centers to get every citizen off the streets, on a payroll, and learning what they need to know to make their own way in the 21st Century. We need to kill most of the regulations that prevent state-based businesses from flourishing--butchers, for example--we need to push back hard on absentee and mega farming, and we need to work very very hard toward resilience across every state. Larger cities need to be broken up into smaller cities, suburbs need to be restored to farming, I could go on--we need to redesign our Republic for people--for the good of the many--rather than what we have now, a pig farm that profits only a few.
Technically I am very enthusiastic about Open Everything. I have a book coming out from Random House / Evolver Editions, the same group that published Charles Eisenstein's Sacred Economics: Money, Gift, and Society in the Age of Transition. My title is THE OPEN SOURCE EVERYTHING MANIFESTO: Transparency, Truth, & Trust. The book will come out in June 2012, and it is a manifesto for all of us--it is a book that along with others marks the beginning of Epoch B, the restoration of bottom-up multi-cultural consensus, of decisions made by people of good will acting on all available information and thinking long-term. I will turn the US Government into the world's first open source software, open source hardware, and open spectrum engine of prosperity, migrating all of this out to the other intelligence tribes (academia, commerce, local and state government, law enforcement, media, military, and non-government / non-profit). My primary instrument for doing this will be the Open Source Agency that I have advocated since the early 1990's. We will create the World Brain Institute and the Global Game--I have Medard Gabel, co-creator of the analog World Game with Buckminster Fuller ready to go--and we will harness the distributed intelligence of every human mind in every language all of the time. This will eradicate corruption and be the technical foundation for creating a prosperous world at peace.
I know how to do all of this. What I do not know how to do is raise money. All I can do at this point in time is show myself to be engaged, and hope that kindred spirits find me.
I will do what I can. The rest is in the hands of the public.
Learn more at http://tinyurl.com/Reform-Steele-2012
Robby Wells: Please go to my campaign web site: www.electrobbywells.com and click on "The Gameplan". This is my step by step, common sense approach to bringing the United States of America back to economic greatness. I cover job creation / Getting Americans Back to Work, becoming and Energy Independent Nation, Foreclosure Credit Forgiveness, Securing our border with Mexico, National Defense, Tax Reform, and Government Reform. These are the main issues that concern most Americans, and my plan is very effective, and moves our country in a positive direction.


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