U.S. House Questionnaire: Steven E. Hight | Candidate Questionnaires | Indy Week
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U.S. House Questionnaire: Steven E. Hight 

Name as it appears on the ballot: Steven E. Hight
Campaign Website: Stevehightforcongress.com
Phone number: 
Email: 919-805-5697 | steve@stevehightforcongress.com
Years lived in the district: 62

1. In your view, what are the three most pressing issues the United States faces? If elected, what would you do to address these issues?

"First is the weakness of the economy for the middle class. I think we need to go big and create a plan to repair our infrastructure. We can put veterans to work because many of them have been trained in building bases and camps. They have the proven discipline and ability to get things done. They can train other people on the job. We can encourage apprenticeships.This is a good investment.

We need policies to encourage small businesses and new opportunities for growth. We must project into the future what our needs will be and develop policies that provide steady jobs and decent income.
Second, reform the criminal justice system. We must repeal mandatory minimum sentences and stop incarceration of non violent offenders. The ""war"" on drugs has been a discriminatory failure. We need police to protect and serve, rather than to be paramilitary forces. We need to make sure that no one is wrongly convicted because of police or prosecutorial misconduct.

Third, we need to address climate change and its consequences. Economic loss and human displacement will result from droughts, floods and disrupted weather patterns. We must reduce global carbon output and prepare for the changes that we can forecast. Rising sea levels will affect populations along coastlines all over the world. We must prepare for disruptions in food and power supplies, and dislocations of many people."

2. Name three members of Congress, past or present, who you look up to as role models. Explain why you have picked these three.

"Sam Ervin was a constitutional scholar and a statesman. He was intelligent, strong and compassionate. He represented our state and country admirably.

Ted Kennedy stood strong and resilient about progressive issues regardless of any political considerations. He fought battles in the Senate for those who needed a voice. He dedicated his life to this fight.
David Price has been a strong, consistent voice of progressive reason. He has intelligently represented his district without blind ideology."

3. If you are challenging an incumbent, what decisions has the incumbent made that you most disagree with? If you are an incumbent, what in your voting record and experience do you believe entitles you to another term? For both challengers and incumbents: In what ways would your election benefit the citizens of North Carolina?

"My candidacy is based on a positive approach and a positive message. I believe America is still a great nation. We have the biggest economy in the world. We have relatively low crime. We have security here at home for the most part, as evidence shows that we are far more likely to get struck by lightning than be harmed by terrorism. It will require diligence and open minds to maintain our greatness.

We can and should work with those who have opposing views to reach common ground. Our common interests are greater than our differences. We must be willing to put aside pure ideology, and understand the benefits of compromise where necessary.

I have a vision for the long term. I have studied domestic and international relations all my life. I have the empathy to process and understand varied beliefs about our societal needs. I can work with all people. "

4. Candidates running for president this year have proposed wildly divergent tax plans. The Democrats have proposed raising taxes on the wealthy, whereas some Republicans have argued that we should do away with the graduated income tax altogether. What do you believe should be done about taxes? Are there any current proposals that you would support in Congress?

"We need to restructure the tax code to make sure all pay their share of taxes. Corporations take advantage of loopholes to pay little or no taxes. The share of taxes paid by corporations has gone down considerably over the last thirty years.

Workers are the backbones of corporations. Executive pay has ballooned to an average of 400 times worker pay. In public corporations, excess executive pay should pay a percentage over to a fund to benefit the employees of that corporation. And graduated tax rates should continue higher to discourage excessive executive pay and disparity of wealth.

Inheritance taxes should be assessed on large multi-million dollar estates, but in such a manner to protect homesteads.

We should raise the limit on income subject to social security decuction."

5. Since its inception, the Affordable Care Act has been polarizing. Republicans have called for it to be repealed “root and branch,” but have not reached consensus on what a replacement would look like. Democrats, meanwhile, have been supportive of the ACA, and some, especially Senator Bernie Sanders, have proposed moving to a Medicare-for-all system. What do you think should be done about health care in the United States? If you support repealing Obamacare, how would you propose structuring and funding its replacement? Do you support or oppose moving toward a single-payer system? Why or why not?

"I support the ACA. It is a new plan that will need tweaks and revisions to lift the burden on doctors, and to make insurance more affordable for all. And at the same time we must make it economically feasible for insurance companies to provide coverage.

It is in the public interest to integrate medical information, so the government should help finance this transition. We need to be patient about expectations because it is a huge, complex part of our society.
I favor a single-payer system because I believe appropriate medical care is a fundamental right. Politically, the ACA was a pretty good first step. We can always seek to improve it. "

6. Concerns about terrorism and related unrest in the Middle East have been at the forefront lately. Do you believe the United States is doing enough to counter the threat posed by ISIS and other militant groups? Why or why not?

Terrorism is by definition an attack by an individual or small group. It is difficult for nation-states to respond. Brute military force is often ineffective, and in many cases causes more resentment among innocent people who are caught in the middle. I believe that we have done well overall, but we are learning how to respond as we go. We must understand and address the underlying causes of the foment of terrorism. we will have to adapt as we learn. I believe we are doing a pretty good job so far. And there have been errors, but we are learning.

7. In terms of foreign policy, what do you believe are the best three things the Obama administration has done over the past seven-and-a-half years? What do you believe are the administration’s three biggest shortcomings or failures? What steps do you believe Congress should take with regard to these shortcomings or failures?

"Best: The move to open relations with all countries. (2) The strategic vision to establish partnerships for the future. (3) Opening relations with Cuba.

Shortcomings: The failure to protect American workers in the partnerships. (2) The lack of a clear plan to address the origins of terrorism, (3) Inconsistent policies about human rights.

Congress has the responsibility of overseeing foreign policy, and its effect on our citizens within a world view that provides security."

8. Do you consider the Iran nuclear deal a success or failure? Explain why. Do you support engagement with the Iranian regime?

I believe that the Iran deal was the right deal at the time. We have slowed their development of nuclear weapons and we have changed their citizens' view of America as "The Enemy". I favor engagement with Iran with healthy skepticism.

9. Similarly, do you believe the Obama administration’s engagement with Cuba is prudent? Why or why not?

Yes. Cuba is our neighbor. Cuba is not a threat to America. Isolationism and blockades have mainly hurt innocent Cubans. The threat of communism is no longer a real issue. We will bolster our interests by recognizing that they are our neighbors.

10. One area where there seems to be an emerging bipartisan consensus related to criminal-justice reform, specifically as it relates to nonviolent drug offenses. How would you propose reforming drug policy? Do you believe marijuana should be either decriminalized or legalized under federal law? Do you believe the federal government should intervene where states have relaxed marijuana prohibitions contrary to federal law?

"Again, the ""war on drugs"" has been harmful failure. We need more drug courts and drug treatment. We need to eliminate mandatory minimum and excessively long sentences. Drug laws are discriminatory against minorities in concept and application. Better policy would be focused on prevention. This requires that we address the causes of the loss of hope and self worth that lead to drug abuse.

Marijuana should be legalized. I don't think the federal government should intervene in those states."

11. The recently negotiated Trans-Pacific Partnership has been criticized by some corners of both the right and left, though Congress did vote last year to grant the president “fast-track” authority. Congress is expected to vote on the TPP sometime this year. In general, do you support or oppose the TPP? Why or why not? Do you believe that it does enough to protect American workers?

I do support the TPP, but it obviously does not protect American workers. America must recognize its relationship with other countries, and how we can strengthen our security through partnerships. But we must maintain the viability of workers and the middle class at home. This means that we must adapt our resources to produce what the world wants and needs.

12. What do you believe is driving the polarization of and rancor in American politics? Is there anything you believe Congress can do about it? In what areas do you believe you could reach a compromise with members of the opposite political party?

" Of course there are many causes. Media is used to stir fear and tribalism. The world is moving ever faster, and people are rushed just trying to keep up. They feel they are being left out of prosperity. Changing demographics and social mores create tensions with old rules and power structures. Our melting pot is actually more of a grinding wheel. There will always be friction and resistance.

But we must first ask what we each have in common. We will all be Congressmen who want to represent our districts. We know that we want the best for America now, and for our children in the future. Then let's talk about our priorities and see where they meet. Politics is about that slow grind. I will put in the hard work to find solutions that allow different ideas to be recognized. I know how to talk to people and I know how to listen."

13. Over the past year, the GOP campaign has been almost defined by Donald Trump’s bombast—from calling Mexican immigrants rapists to proposing a ban on Muslim immigration to demeaning John McCain’s military service—and yet he’s nonetheless likely to be the Republican nominee for president. To what to you attribute Trump’s success? Do you believe his rhetoric is appropriate? If you are a Republican, do you plan to support Trump as your party’s nominee in the fall? If you are a Democrat, are there any areas in which you believe you could find common ground with a President Trump?

"Donald Trump has tapped into many different emotions and concerns of ordinary citizens who feel that all the rules have changed and that they are paying for it. This allows him to identify different enemies for different problems. Mexicans, Muslims, China and all the ""others"" are the causes of all our problems, and we could get rid of them if our government would act. Then he plays the hero and says ""I will eliminate them and America will be great again.""

These themes play on fear and bigotry. The anger among people is real because of the loss of jobs and the weak economic recovery. Simultaneously, demographic and societal shifts provide a convenient scapegoat for Trump to blame.

Actually, I believe I could work with a President Trump. I don't want him to be President, but he is moderate on some issues."

14. Identify and explain one principled stand you would be willing to take if elected that you suspect might cost you some popularity points with voters.

I would move for the legalization and regulation of marijuana. Possession and use of marijuana should not be a crime. At the very least we can start with the legalization of medically authorized marijuana.

15. The Citizens United decision has been criticized by some on the left for opening up the floodgates for special interests to influence political leaders. What changes do you believe Congress can or should make to campaign-finance regulations? Do you believe that Citizens United has had a positive or negative effect on American politics?

Congress is constrained by Citizens United, as it is the law of the land. We have to regulate within the guarantee of the right of freedom of speech.

Transparency can be addressed so that we know who is funding messages that cost huge amounts of money to broadcast. Ethics rules can be established in Congress to hold members accountable.
I do not agree with the ruling in Citizens United. I believe that treating corporations as people for these purposes destroys the power of the vote. In fact, that is the point. Corporations cannot vote, and should not enjoy the same rights as the people.

It has had a negative effect on politics.

16. Finally, these congressional primaries were moved from March to June after a federal court invalidated the state’s districts, calling them an unconstitutional gerrymander. What are your thoughts on the new district map? Would you support an independent redistricting commission to draw these maps in the future—as is the case in Arizona—or do you believe the legislature can handle the task fairly?  

Fortunately, I believe the present configuration of the Second district was a fairly reasonable result, even though it was drawn for political purposes. One of the Republican members of the legislature even stated that the districts were redrawn to make sure there would still be ten ""safe"" Republican districts. That should not be how we draw our districts. (Let me be fair. Democrats have done it, too.)
I have long thought we should have an independent commission. We now have the digital capabilities to draw districts that represent areas of similar interests and makeup. We must move into the 21st century, and take the unfairness out of this process. 

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