Willie Wilson: Candidate profile, U.S. Senate
In the race for the U.S. Senate, incumbent Dick Durbin of Springfield, a Democrat, faces a challenge from former Lake County sheriff Mark Curran Jr. of Libertyville, a Republican.
Three third-party candidates also share the ballot: philanthropist and businessman Willie Wilson of Chicago, Libertarian Danny Malouf of Crystal Lake and Green Party candidate David Black of Rockford.
The Daily Herald asked the candidates to respond to a series of questions. David Black did not complete a questionnaire.
Q. What has Donald Trump's unconventional leadership taught us about politics in the United States? What is the best thing his presidency has done? What is the most significant criticism you have of it?
A. President Trump's leadership has demonstrated how great the divide is between democrats and republicans. Sadly, the tone of partisanship has taken over and meaningful legislation and progress has been hindered. I believe his presidency has also motivated many people to become more engaged in their civic duties and educate themselves before voting.
Q. Many critics of governmental process complain that both Barack Obama and Donald Trump governed too much through executive orders rather than in collaboration with Congress. Is our system in danger of veering toward authoritarianism? From a structural standpoint, does Congress need to place stronger limits on the power of the presidency? If so, be specific on what some of those limits might be. If not, please explain your view.
A. Even though the presidency remains more powerful than in the 19th century, I do not believe we are in danger of veering toward authoritarianism. Executive orders have become more frequent because our political system is so divisive. Unfortunately, when political party agendas surpass the needs of the American people and hinder progress and comprehensive solutions/legislation to important issues, Executive Orders are necessary.
I believe in term limits for all elected officials. The lust for power is a defining factor in partisan political divide and can be mitigated by ensuring that politics returns to the concept of public service and not a career path.
I do not believe Congress needs to place stronger limits on the power of the presidency, instead members of Congress need to overcome the partisan pettiness and use the powers granted to it via the Constitution to handle the most pressing issues.
Q. Protesters have massed in the streets throughout America calling for greater social justice. How significant a role does systemic racism play in limiting equal opportunity in America? To the degree that it exists, what should be done about it? Do you favor reparations? Should police be "defunded?"
A. Systemic racism exists in nearly every facet of life. We live in a world where the color of one's skin often determines how an individual is perceived long before any actions or words are demonstrated. Our jails are filled with Black and brown people. Our poorest populations are Black and brown. Our dropouts and those failing behind in education are Black and brown. The pattern cannot be ignored. The infamous "three strikes law" has done untold damage in our minority communities.
As a child of the "Jim Crow" South myself, I fully support reparations, and that is why I have spent so much time and effort advocating for them. I authored a bill known as The Illinois State Community Commission on Reparations Remedies for People of African Descendant-Citizens in the state of Illinois. This bill provides for an investment in the communities that have long been neglected.
No, I do not believe the police need to be defunded. Public safety is the first responsibility of government."
Q. Does today's climate of polarization reflect a natural and necessary ebb and flow in the tone of civic debate? Or does it reflect a dangerous divide? What, if anything, should be done about it?
A. Our country is more divided today than ever. Unification is necessary and it starts with leadership in Washington, DC. Relationship building and open, honest communication among members of Congress is the place to start. I have spent my life building relationships that have led to great success in my business and my personal life. I believe we have lost the spirit of public service in politics and believe strongly in term limits for all elected officials.
Q. Is there a "cancel culture" in America?
A. There is a definite culture of voicing one's opinion and it has resulted in the spear heading of withdrawing support for a person or product because of their actions. I think Americans are frustrated and often looking for a way to express the frustration and respond to a specific person or action that they find wrong.
Q. What do you see as the most important issues to address regarding immigration reform? If you oppose funding for a wall, what steps do you support to try to control illegal immigration?
A. As an international businessman, I deal with restrictions from governments all over the world every day. Every country maintains its own standards and rules and, often, they use these rules for an advantage over other countries. The United States is a nation of immigrants and should remain so; however, there have always been rules about entering another country and we should seek fairness in relation to international standards.
Q. Please define your position on health care reform, especially as it relates to the Affordable Care Act.
A. I believe every American should have health insurance, and I believe it should be the goal of the government to provide health insurance to those who cannot afford it. We need to ensure transparency and fairness in our health delivery system, and that means ensuring that the pharmaceutical and insurance industries are held to limits and standards in their roles as middlemen in the health care system to ensure that health care is affordable for everyone.
Q. Should everyone wear a mask? Should our schools be open? What has the country done right about the pandemic? What has it done wrong? How optimistic are you that we'll ever get back to "normal?"
A. This pandemic has resulted in a lot of education for Americans. The White House has utilized experts to inform the public and encourage smart choices from people. I believe everyone should wear a mask, and if we know that masks help prevent the spread of COVID-19 then the government should provide those masks to everyone. Requiring a mask but not providing one to people results in the most vulnerable being harmed. We will get back to normal. We are not a patient nation, but issues as important as solving a pandemic take time.
Q. What do you consider America's role in world affairs? What are we doing correctly to fill that role? What else should we be doing?
A. We should be a leader in world affairs. We should be an example. We should be encouraging and promoting open communication with other countries in order to improve our nation.
Q. Do you believe climate change is caused by human activity? What steps should government be taking to address the issue?
A. Human activity is a contributor to climate change but not the sole cause. The planet has been changing on its own for millions of years and will continue to even without the presence of people. Our government should continue to monitor and study the impact of climate change and educate us accurately.
Q. What role does Congress play with regards to the growth of conspiracy theory groups like QAnon?
A. The term "conspiracy theory" is a divisive one and I avoid using it. One person's theory is another person's fact, and we are all entitled to our opinion. I will not comment on any one group over another in a general discussion such as this, but will say that if anyone wishes to express an opinion, they are free to do so. Fact checking has become extremely easy in our modern world and is now almost a "sport," everyone does it, so if you are expressing something as a fact, you had better get it right.