Sixth Congressional District Primary Interviews: Geoff Young, Part 2
"We don't need to waste 700 or 800 billion dollars a year on so-called defense, which is really offense."
Welcome back to the final installment of our four-piece series getting to know the Democratic candidates hoping to unseat Rep. Andy Barr in Kentucky’s Sixth Congressional District. If you missed the first part of our interview with Geoff Young yesterday—it was Mother’s Day, after all—start there, then gather some additional food-for-thought right this way as Young lays out his positions on cutting the number of troops, taxing the rich and addressing the threat of nuclear war.
If you’ve missed any portion of the candidate interviews with either Chris Preece or Geoff Young, I suggest backtracking and digesting them all in one go. It’s always good to compare candidates side-by-side: think of it as a mini-debate playing out in your brain.
And, as always, don’t forget: May 17 is primary election day! Tell your birding group! Remind people in the freezer aisle!
(Photo via Young4KY)
Sarah Baird: You have a lot of boundary-pushing ideas. How would you get other Congressional Democrats on board?
Geoff Young: Well, I plan to join the House Progressive Caucus, and also work with those Republicans in the House who are concerned about our budget deficits. I don’t agree with a lot of Democratic politicians who say deficits don't matter. I think they do. So I would work with both parties to, well, abolish the CIA; cut the military budget by about 70 percent; and cut the number of troops by 70 percent. 30 percent of today’s troops could easily defend our country against invasion. But by who? No one wants to invade us. Nobody wants to conquer the US militarily—they'd have to be crazy. 30 percent of our current troop levels could easily do their constitutional job of defending our country. We don't need to waste 700 or 800 billion dollars a year on so-called defense, which is really offense.
The effect on Kentuckians would be that there would be money to do all these things that the Republicans keep saying, “Oh, there's no money to do that. How are you going to pay for it?” Well, two ways. One, cutting the defense budget. Two, taxing the rich. Billionaires end up paying a lower overall income tax rate than the average employee at a gas station in terms of percentage.
SB: Do you think younger generations—Millennials and Gen Z—are more open to these ideas than older generations?
GY: Well, I think younger people are definitely open to these ideas. They sound radical to a lot of older folks, but young people are more favorably disposed to socialism than any other age group…and they’re the future.
SB: What role do you see addressing the climate crisis playing in that?
GY: Young people are very concerned about climate change, and they’re a lot more concerned about it than most older Americans. It's certainly a real problem. But I think it's problem number two after the biggest problem, which is the threat of World War III and nuclear war. We are closer to a nuclear war today that at any time since atomic bombs were invented in 1945. There is a group called The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists that has a doomsday clock, and every January they revise it based on what has gone on. For a while it was five minutes to midnight, with midnight being a nuclear war. Today, with the new cold war going on and conflicts in various parts of the world, their clock is set at 100 seconds to midnight, which is less than two minutes—closest it's ever been. Priority number one, in my view, is reducing the danger of a nuclear war.
I think those two big problems—nuclear war and climate change—are kind of scary to most people. They think, “Well, I have no idea what to do, there's nothing I can do.” But I disagree. I think people getting together can address both of those problems. It won't be easy, but that's why I'm running for office to reduce the risk of a nuclear war and bring our troops home.
SB: You’ve been a candidate in the 6th District for many, many years. What have you learned on the campaign trail?
GY: A lot! Probably the biggest thing I've learned is that both big parties—the Republican Party of Kentucky (RPK) and the Kentucky Democratic Party (KDP)—if there's a primary that’s very important to the party or its leaders…they'll rig it. They rig their own primaries. There's a law in Kentucky that says the two parties may not invest or spend party resources to support one candidate in a primary above the others. They have to be impartial. But both parties, if it’s an important one, just routinely violate that. And they’ve probably been doing it for the last hundred years. I mean, you can understand why the party insiders—the people who work really hard to get people elected and all that—get their party members elected, and then they have a natural tendency to want to have a say in who gets nominated. But it's not legal. Both Republicans and Democrats do it in the same way. Exactly the same way. There's no difference between the way they rig their own primaries. It's the same tricks.
SB: How would you inspire candidates who aren't part of that “insider group” to get involved and even take a chance on running for office?
GY: I would advise persistence. If you don't win in 2022, keep organizing, keep getting your positions out there, and try again in 2024.
SB: Tell me a little bit about this year’s primary race. Has it been different for you?
GY: Well, let's see, I was a Democrat in 2014 and facing Elizabeth Jensen. Both of us were unknown, so we had pretty much an equal start, but she raised a lot more money: she was on the phone constantly for months and I wasn't. So she outspent me something like nine-to-one and got the nomination. Then Andy Barr wiped her out 60 percent to 40 percent in the general election. And since then, there's always been somebody like Amy McGrath or Jim Gray: very well connected, very well funded. And so really, I didn't have much of a chance.
This year is different. The other Democrat I'm running against is even more unknown than I am. I mean, all these years of running have given me a little bit of name recognition, so I think I have a pretty good chance of beating him unless he comes up with a couple million dollars and spends it. But I'm not slacking off at all. I'm running hard every day, and I'm pretty optimistic right now.
SB: If you’re elected, first day on the job, what are your initial priorities?
GY: Oh, well, that's going to be a blast! As I mentioned, I want to join the House Progressive Caucus. I want to get on the Foreign Affairs Committee, which Andy Barr is on right now doing a lot of damage. I want to replace him on foreign affairs and see what happens. Every day is going to be new and different.
This interview has been lightly edited and condensed.
There hasn’t been much coverage this year of the Democratic primary for Kentucky’s Sixth Congressional District—particularly when compared to the last three election cycles. We’ll talk more about that Friday here on The Goldenrod, but for now, if you have a neighbor who might not know who’s running, why not share our candidate interviews?