Benjamin Thomas Wolf: Candidate Profile
5th District U.S. Representative (Democrat)
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Note: Answers provided have not been edited for grammar, misspellings or typos. In some instances, candidate claims that could not be immediately verified have been omitted.
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Occupation: Congressional Candidate
Adjunct Professor, Government and Political Science
co-owner, Park & Field
Education: PhD Candidate, Chicago School of Professional Psychology
Masters, American Military University
Kent State University, B.A. Criminal Justice
Civic involvement: First time running for office. Career United States Diplomat
Special Agent, United States Department of State
National Security Investigator, Federal Bureau of Investigation
Adjunct Professor, Government & Politics
President, Keep Chicago Livable
Elected offices held: Candidate did not respond.
What do you think is the government's responsibility in assuring that citizens have health care? To what extent does the Affordable Care Act address this responsibility? What, if any, changes are needed in the act.
I support universal healthcare. Basic healthcare is a fundamental human right as stated by the United Nations. The Affordable Care Act has made health insurance more complicated and at times more expensive for many Americans. Only with a universal healthcare program can we assure everyone proper medical treatments and coverage.
My first priority as a United States Congressman is to provide free and basic medical insurance for every person in our country in the form of universal healthcare. As a career U.S. Diplomat, I have worked in dozens of nations with cost free and yet effective national coverage that provide both medical and mental healthcare for everyone. This allows for an overall happier and healthier society. In my job as a federal representative, I will provide leadership, protection, and new ideas to improve our national healthcare agenda. I see universal healthcare as my first national initiative.
What immigration policies do you support? Where, if at all, do you see room for compromise to produce an effective policy on immigration? What, if any, responsibility does the government have toward immigrants referred to as Dreamers who were brought to the United States illegally as children and are now adults? How will these policies affect your district?
It is imperative that the American immigration system is realistic and reasonable. Having worked in the immigration system and federal law enforcement for two decades I understand the complexities and difficulties of our current system and the legal need for borders. By simplifying the current law and regulations we can develop a system that is simpler and allows immigrants and workers alike, the opportunities that they have earned and deserved. Our immigration system must be clear, reasonable, and simple.
Furthermore, while borders must be visible and clear, history has shown us that walls simply do not work. The wall should not be built, and if it were to be built, it would accomplish nothing. This is yet another absurd idea in a long line of them by the president. Much like the Muslim ban, this idea is shrouded in prejudice and fear that simply speaks to Trump's base, further emboldening them and their nationalist agenda. Building a wall along our border with Mexico would cost taxpayers millions of dollars and accomplish nothing because it still would not solve the problems facing our immigration system.
Any refugees, asylees, immigrants, or DACA recipients should never be asked to leave their new home. DACA recipients did not come here voluntarily and are some of our best and brightest. America must continue forward with a new worldview and embrace new cultures, ideas, and people.
What military or diplomatic roles should the United States play to promote peace and stability in the Mideast? Under what circumstances should we have military forces actively operating?
Although I recognize Israel is one of our strongest and most important allies, moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem sends a markedly confusing message to our allies around the world, but more importantly, to the Middle East region. This move essentially recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel rather than an International City as recognized by the United Nations. This is a move that goes against seventy years of established international norms and effectively adds another major roadblock to a viable two-state solution.
Having worked in the Middle East, I understand the concern about this unilateral and spontaneous move with zero support from the international community. This move can only hinder a lasting peace between Israel and its Middle East neighbors.
Furthermore, Iran must be forced to stop any advances in nuclear power, reactors or energy. We can never allow Iran to have the capabilities of building nor purchasing nuclear arms. To do so would be a danger to Israel, the United States, and many of our allies.
As a career Foreign Service member, I consider it to be a tragedy that we did not have diplomatic relations with Iran during my tenure. Iran is an incredible nation with a remarkably young and educated population and a cultural history that spans the evolution of mankind.
Unfortunately, the Iranian government continues to defy not only the United States in its quest to have nuclear weapons, a quest that only further destabilizes and inflames Middle East politics.
What should the United States be doing to reduce the threat of potential nuclear conflict from North Korea?
Any outward threat to the United States or its allies must be seen as credible. As a former diplomat, I value peace and diplomacy. However, should there be constant threats or provocations, there will be a time for military action. Our intelligence and armed forces likely have already prepared various diplomatic, intelligence, and military options that range from preemptive to retaliatory.
Any military action against North Korea seriously puts some of our strongest military and economic allies at great risk, not to mention millions of innocent people in the region. This means that the United States, South Korea, Japan, and China must do everything it can to maintain the status quo while using diplomatic and economic channels to halt North Korea from further developing nuclear weapons. Military action would only create chaos in a region that desires peace and prosperity.
An alternative solution is to pressure China to become more directly involved. For far too long, the United States has allowed China the luxury of circumventing direct involvement in negotiations with North Korea. China has repeatedly undercut U.S. sanctions by allowing Chinese banks and enterprises to continue doing business in North Korea. In the end, we must pressure China to recognize this is an international problem.
How would you describe the effectiveness of Congress today? If you think Congress needs to be more effective, what would you do to promote that?
The current political climate continues to be toxic and divisive. As silly as it may sound, it as simple as actively listening to others. Most of us want the exact same things out of life, albeit by achieving it in different ways. This doesn't mean that common goals cannot be achieved. It is lazy exercise to find things we disagree on.
Having had the privilege of working for three presidents and four Secretaries of State I know what it means to work alongside people of every political, social, and economic strata. I served at the pleasure of these officials, regardless of party affiliation, for the greater good and to achieve cohesive policies and goals.
Throughout my career, I have made it a priority to maintain positive relationships with those that have different political views or perspectives. My main priority will always be the people of the 5th District, but I recognize that compromise is an inherent part of politics. Finding a balance and establishing positive working relationships in Washington D.C. will be my priority as a freshman Congressman. Even with a Republican majority, I will aggressively draft and sponsor progressive legislation that aligns with the 5th District's Democratic and progressive ideals.
What other issues, if any, are important to you as a candidate for this office?
Universal Healthcare: My first priority as a United States Congressman is to provide free and basic medical insurance for every person in our country in the form of universal healthcare.
Cannabis: I am the only candidate that has come out in favor of federally legalizing cannabis and openly discussing the fact that cannabis is a routine part of my life. More than 70 percent of Americans are in favor of legalizing cannabis regardless of political party affiliation, and in Chicago that rate is over 85 percent. We must see cannabis as medicine, first and foremost. Likewise, it could provide billions of dollars in tax revenue to our state. As a former federal agent and law enforcement officer, I know that legal cannabis would have a profound impact on the criminal justice system for young minorities in urban areas. Legal cannabis would lower incarceration rates and help to free up our courts and jails. This will lead to billions in revenue that the 5th District and Illinois desperately needs. I am proud to be called the "cannabis candidate."
Free Higher Education: we must find a mechanism or system to ensure free higher education for everyone. This includes: trade schools, community colleges, and four-year state universities. Student loan debt is an epidemic that restrains American creativity and the overall American workforce. Funding for higher education will come about through priorities focusing on the development of American academics, tradesmen, and specializations.
Please name one current leader who most inspires you.
Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, representing Hawaii's Fifth District.
I can relate to her professional experience and truly appreciate all that she is doing for the environment.
What is the biggest lesson you learned at home growing up?
Education and hard work are the most important factors in any success.
If life gave you one do-over, what would you spend it on?
I never got to see a space shuttle launch in person. I would love to witness the power and overall scene of a launch.
What was your favorite subject in school and how did it help you in later life?
Biology. It taught me about science, life, and the universe. We're here for a short time and should be kind to each other and nature.
If you could give your children only one piece of advice, what would it be?
I always tell my three boys to be good men. Be honest, have integrity, and never give up.