Democratic candidate Lee Auman of Nauvoo, who is running for the 4th Congressional District seat, is pushing for a single-payer health system and said President Trump doesn't have the average …
Democratic candidate Lee Auman of Nauvoo, who is running for the 4th Congressional District seat, is pushing for a single-payer health system and said President Trump doesn't have the average citizen's interests in mind.
Auman, 25, who spoke to the Walker County Democratic Party in February, gave an interview on Wednesday. He said he is from Union Grove and graduated from Arab High School in 2011. After attending Snead State Community College in Boaz, he got a degree in philosophy from Auburn University in December 2015. A part-time Episcopal youth minister during his senior year in college, he thought he would go to seminary but got more interested in politics.
In February 2016, he found a full-time job at Camp McDowell, managing the conference center. His last day of work will be Saturday as he will campaign full-time.
Auman (aumanforcongress.com) is running against Rick Neighbors of Hackleburg in the June 5 Democratic primaries, while U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt is running against Anthony Blackmon in the Republican primary. The General Election is set for Nov. 6.
All donations have been from individuals, amounting to $12,000 to date, he said. He said he is not taking from corporate PACs.
He said many have questioned his age and if he is ready.
"The Constitution says I'm old enough," he said. "I can't honestly answer (if he is ready). I would be honest to act like I knew if I was ready. What I do know is I pray every day for the challenges that are ahead of me and I think it is a process of making decisions and making yourself ready for the consequences of the decisions. There is so much I haven't seen; I'm aware of that. But I don't know age is the best metric for whether we are ready to take on the responsibility for representing people in government."
Asked why he is running, he said as a young child he was told by an adult the word politician meant "liar," which he took to heart.
"Over the years, I've come to realize how dangerous that belief is," he said, saying the idea politicians are crooks and bad scares away good people from service. "We don't trust our politicians anymore, so we elect anyone who says they are not one. That has put us in a position where Donald Trump is the president of the United States. I think that has got to change. We've got to start trusting our democracy again and trusting our government again, and to do so, we need to elect a government that is trustworthy."
He felt he could not sit by any longer, noting if people stop trusting democracy, it will fall apart. "I'm not going to let that happen," with the help of others, he said.
Auman said the race is challenging for a Democrat, as the 4th District was the only one in the nation that gave Trump 80 percent of the vote in 2016 and is rated in one study as the fifth most Republican district in the nation.
He was critical of Aderholt, saying he doesn't come back to the district enough. Auman would not just hold town halls once a month in the district but visit in people's homes and elsewhere to see the life they deal with.
Auman said it is not enough to say, as he quoted some Democrats as declaring, that Aderholt is a good man who "wants to do the right thing, but his party won't let him." Noting Aderholt went into office when Auman was 4, he said Aderholt has repeatedly had the choice to vote in the interests of constituents, but has consistently voted along party lines instead. He said Aderholt's votes for the Central American Free Trade Agreement and the North American Free Trade Agreement hurt jobs and industries in the district.
As a Christian, Auman said he wanted to live in a world without abortions, "but that doesn't mean we should make abortions illegal, because we're never going to be able to prevent all abortions from happening." If illegal, he said abortions would happen in the street, leading to death of mothers. He said efforts should be made to prevent the mothers to be in that situation to start with by funding groups like Planned Parenthood and provide contraceptives and education on sex.
Asked about President Trump, Auman said he understands why people voted for him, "but I think he conned us and I don't think he has the interests of the average person in mind," nor knows what it is like to be a hard-working average American. "I also think his behavior is an incredibly poor representation of my values as a Christian person and of American values," he said, advocating to elect candidates who behave better toward each other.
Auman said Trump's world view is that if one person wins, another must lose, and if a non-American wins, then America must be losing. "That is a really poor understanding of the world to have," he said.
He said Robert Mueller's Russian investigation appears to be a legitimate probe that will likely find more evidence against Trump, and if the Democrats take the House and find enough evidence from the investigation, Trump "certainly will be" impeached.
Federal campaign finance, a living wage and health care are Auman's three major planks. He was critical of the 5-4 Citizens United decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to free up more corporate efforts in the election process, saying it allows big donors not to be disclose "dark money" contributions. He called for a federal solution to prevent unlimited, undisclosed donations to super PACS.
Auman called for raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour and index it to annually match the cost of living.
On health care, he supports a universal single-payer healthcare program to guarantee comprehensive care from birth. Such a program would save trillions of dollars as costs for products and services would be set by the public sector, not the private sector, he said. He called for expanding Medicare, already a single-payer program, to cover all types of care.
He said that was different from Obamacare, which he said provided health care insurance for 20 million people and should be built upon. He said it tried to work with the current private system, adding, "I don't think that is where we need to be."
Auman said instead of focusing on health care insurance, the government needs to make sure health care is provided not based on affordability but on need and funded by taxes.
A card would be presented without the need to pay a deductible or co-pay, and the average family would save more than $5,000 a year. Other developed countries with similar systems spends $3,000 per family, where the average American family spends $8,300 a year, he said.
He said as far as the charge of it being socialized medicine, Medicare is already a socialized system that works and is highly popular. He said people could still buy their own private insurance if they wanted to.
Auman called for people at 18 to be automatically registered to vote without paper work, to encourage more voting. He said nine states have already implemented systems, although he could not explain how they work.
Asked about coal, he said, "Coal jobs are going to go away and there is nothing we can do about that. It is a non-renewable resource. I would like to see us not eliminate the coal industry but transitioning into other forms of industry," while also retraining those with Alabama coal jobs for solar energy jobs.
On opioids, he called for a prescription drug monitoring program which doctors would be required to check before writing a prescription. He is for banning automatic and simi-automatic assault weapons, saying they were designed for war and mass killing, adding he is for the Second Amendment. He is for renewing the Dreamer's program for immigrants to help those not committing crimes who are supporting the economy. He called for online defense systems to defend against Russian aggression and efforts to weaken democracy against the U.S. and its allies.