Kevin Zeese doesn’t seem like a zealot to me. In fact, if you actually listen to what he says, what he writes, what he works for, Zeese seems pretty reasonable in a progressive, populist way and makes some good arguments. But Zeese is running for the U.S. Senate as an independent candidate backed by the Maryland Libertarian, Populist, and Green parties, so we haven’t heard much about him. Since we've interviewed, profiled, and promoted lots of Democrats including long-shot congressional candidates like Jim Corwin in the 1st and Andrew Duck in the 6th, it might be interesting for you to hear about the long-shot U.S. Senate candidate who has a lot to say.
Zeese earns the Populist endorsement of his candidacy when he offers a cogent critique of how the economic deck is stacked against working and middle class Americans, and a call for progressive taxation:
I see the nation as rigging the economy for the wealthiest. We have funneled the money of the middle class up, especially over the last two decades. Currently the top 1% has the same wealth as the bottom 95% of Americans combined. I have several steps I would want to take to create a 21st Century economy. If we do not take steps urgently to transform our economy we will not be economic leaders in the future.
On taxes, I want to see the first $100,000 of income to be federal income tax free. This is how the income tax began -- it was only a tax on the top 2% when it started. By not taxing the first $100,000 we would be given most Americans a 22% raise -- a tremendous spur to the economy. This costs the Treasury $380 Billion annually. I'd replace that with a tiny micro-tax of 1/10th of 1% on Wall Street investments -- stock, bonds, currency and derivatives (options). A tiny micro tax on the purchase of these instruments would raise 1.2 Trillion annually. And, it would lead to taxing the investor class more and the working class less.
On corporate welfare, currently more than $300 billion per year, I would transform that into taxpayer investment and model a program on the successful Alaska Permanent Trust that shares the oil wealth of
and has been doing so since 1978. The national permanent trust would take a small percentage of the profit of corporations that get taxpayer investment and invest it. Then each year every American would get a share of that profit. In Alaska in some years each person gets $2,000 -- a family of 5 gets $10,000. That is money for down payment on a home, starting a business, paying tuition or paying off debt. Alaska is the only state in the nation where the rich-poor divide has not expanded in the last decade. This would create a real ownership society that would share the wealth of Alaska . America
Zeese argues for making the tough but necessary decisions to invest in clean, sustainable energy and in our weakening infrastructure, changes that “create jobs that cannot be sent overseas and will put in place a system that will allow a more fair sharing of the wealth. Our GDP is expected to grow by 3 or 4 times over this Century. If we do not make changes like this we will continue to expand the rich poor divide and funnel money to the top.” He argues for fixing education and having a national health care plan (single payer) by using the money from ending the occupation in Iraq and corporate welfare. Zeese has harsh words for those unwilling to step up to the plate: "
He argues for fixing education and having a national health care plan (single payer) by using the money from ending the occupation in Iraq and corporate welfare. Zeese has harsh words for those unwilling to step up to the plate: "On health care, the answer is so obvious that the failure to enact it is proof of our elected officials put the profits of their campaign donors ahead of the need of the people." He remind us that "We pay more per person on health care than any country in the world but waste 25% on unneeded health insurance bureaucracy."
While most of us believe that the U.S. Senate race is between Cardin and Steele, Zeese is eager to take on the idea that Marylanders have only two options, saying “I want them to know that the only wasted vote is a vote for someone you do not believe in. If you oppose the war, the Patriot Act, corporate welfare, militarism, want health care for all, expanded free education, fair taxation -- then you will not get it from either of my status quo competitors. You will only get change from me as I am the only real change candidate. When I listen to my opponents they both describe themselves as "independent" "challenging the special interests" -- Cardin claims to be an "anti-war candidate" and "protector of civil liberties" -- these are all false claims -- but it shows that they know that is what voters want. I am all those things. So, if enough voters vote for what they want we really have a chance of getting what we want.”
While some might question how one independent could make a change in politics or policy, Zeese proclaims that his “election would give hope to independent politics -- something polls say most Americans want. And, it may wake up the two parties to start listening to the people rather than the money. And, in a close Senate my vote would be sought after by both sides. I think I'd have more power than someone who is a reliable Republican or reliable Democratic vote.” And he's not wrong -- a Zeese victory or even a showing outside of the low single digits would energize independents and others on the margins of politics.
While most political pundits are wondering if the Republican nominee in a usually Democratic state can win, Kevin Zeese argues that “Three-way races are unpredictable” and that in the debates he thinks his message has resonated with activists and voters.
I want all voters to think of themselves as historical actors who actions -- whose votes -- really matter at this critical time in history. I want them to think -- if it was 1850 would I vote for one of the two status quo parties that favored slavery (the Democrats and the Whigs) or would I vote for the abolition parties? And, then think, 50 years from now do you want to be remembered as someone who voted for the corporate-Democrat or the corporate-Republican at a time when the central issue of our times is corporate control of government. Or do you want to vote for someone who will really create a government of, by and for the people. I think the answer is obvious -- don't throw your vote away on a corporate candidate who will not make the fundamental changes that are needed in our government.Kevin Zeese may be a longshot, but he's got some good ideas and a lot of dedication to making a difference.