An interview with Dwain Reynolds, candidate for Governor of Michigan

by Jim Brash, member of North Star editorial board on September 15, 2017

Dwain Reynolds

[An interview with Dwain Reynolds, a democratic socialist running for governor of Michigan. The election isn’t till 2018 but most of the candidates have already declared (the majority did so this past January). Dwain is seeking the endorsements/nominations of SP USA and the Green Party (the Greens have ballot access).This interview was initially done on 06/07/17 and updated 09/07/17.]

TNS: What led you to run for governor of Michigan?

DR: Daily, I work with students who live in a generational poverty that established politicians ignore. I, like many others, am overworked and underpaid. I answered calls from friends and family on the day of Trump’s election, who were worried about themselves and their families. My 90 years old grandmother called me, worried about her social security. A friend called me worried about her marriage to her new wife. Another called about her daughter safety because she is transitioning, and still another because she is Jewish. I was concerned for them and still am. It was the that I decided to run for governor. To show people who support everyone and who still speak out in their defense.

TNS: You previously ran for Michigan State Board of Education. What was that experience like and how does it inform your current campaign?

DR: When I decided to run for state BOE, it was to oppose the push for charter schools and the privatization of our public schools system. This is a fight I continue. I gained a log of experience and had a lot of fun during that campaign in my early twenties. However, it’s been almost 10 years. The game is the same, but the field has changed since then.

TNS: Though the election isn’t til 2018, all of the gubernatorial candidate’s have declared or initiated their campaign committees. Why such an early declaration and how does it impact your campaign strategy?.

DR: We are still waiting for a few more to announce. It will be a huge field of candidates. Gov. Snyder, has held the office for two terms. Michiganders are in need of change and a lot of people know it. We started early because I m a third party candidate, and since we won’t have the resources the major two parties have, we need more time to get my name out.

TNS: Are you still seeking the endorsements of the Socialist Party and the Green Party?

DR: Yes. This campaign has become more than just a run for governor. but a call to bring people together for the greater good. Minor differences between people, groups, and organizations pale in comparison to the rich and the corporations expelling our democracy for their personal gain.

TNS: So, you believe in the need of some form of Left Convergence?

DR: Absolutely! We are so splintered at this point, we are unable to make effective change.

TNS: Do you think that through your campaign, a sustainable left coalition could be built in Michigan?

DR: I would like to believe that is possible, but could never guarantee that result.

TNS: Do you think being 30 hurts or helps your campaign? Is it both?

DR: It could go either way. I will say that if our citizens want candidates that are for the people, they need to start looking at candidates like myself.  If we want change, we cannot continue to have the same expectations that we have had in the past. I go to work. I drive around in an old car. I don’t live in a huge home. I am a normal working-class Michigander. I understand the people, because I am one of them. For me, experience trumps age.

TNS: Ok. How do you define yourself ideologically?

DR: I am a democratic socialist.

TNS: When you refer to yourself as a democratic socialist, does it resonate with people you speak with?

DR: It does, It’s exciting.

TNS: What kind of feedback are you receiving?

DR: I hear that I am being very courageous by stating that I am a democratic socialist. I don’t see it that way though, it’s what I believe, of course I state it.

TNS: Do you find millennials more open to the democratic socialist moniker, than other demographics?

DR: Actually no. They are receptive, but older generations are also interested. I ran into an older gentleman, probably in his 50s, while I was handing out some cards. He was very excited to see that I was a socialist and commented that there is a difference between socialism as communism, which is a big deal to me. There are many who don’t know the difference.

TNS: What are the total number of signatures you need to be on the ballot? How far along are you in that area? What is the deadline?

DR: With the Green Party nomination, we do not have to collect the signatures for ballot access.

TNS: If you can’t secure the nomination, then what?

DR: If I don’t get the nomination from the Green Party, I will be done. That, to me, is democracy. The people have spoken.

TNS: What are your fundraising goals? How has the process been so far?

DR: We are running a clean campaign with no money coming from corporations or PACs. We know that we will not be able to gain the resources of like the two major parties. We do our best to use the money we do receive in the best possible way to promote the campaign.

TNS: What is life like for the average working-class Michigander these days?

DR: I imagine that it is like anywhere else. Our working-class is living from paycheck to paycheck, with little to no security. If they are a minority , they’re worried their rights and livelihood.

TNS: If you are elected what would you attempt to accomplish on behalf of the working-class, the poor, minorities, etc?

DR: So much needs to be done. I have a very long list We need to start a public’s works program; add an amendment to the state constitution to protect our LGBTQI community; raise the minimum wage; integrated renewable energies; remove emergency financial managers; grow our unions, and repeal “right-to-work”. In the long run we need to work away from the capitalist system that is aiding our injustice & inequality.

TNS: We hear in the news about Flint water and Detroit being a failed city. What specific powers are vested in the office of governor, that could be used to push back against the neoliberal Michigander are facing.

DR: The change that is needed in those areas must come from the people. They are working hard to change their communities for the better and I am dedicated to helping them with public works programs, funding, and seeking out experts. So often when big government step in they put bandages on the situation, call it good, and leave. We don’t want this to happen, we need lasting change that only the citizens can provide.

TNS: Public works/infrastructure is a big part of your economic turnaround plan. How do you hope to pay for it?

DR: We need to raise taxes on the rich and large corporations as well as legalize & tax cannabis.

TNS: Is a state public bank also part of your plan?

DR: Not at this time, although I am not opposed to it.

TNS: What would your response as governor be to undocumented Michiganders affected by Trump’s  ending  of DACA?

DR: We have proposed to make Michigan a sanctuary state. That would also protect citizens affected by Trump ending DACA.

TNS: Have you seen a rise in white supremacist thought among white Michiganders? What do you think the response should be to white supremacy and neo-Nazism? How could Michiganders lead the way against the rise of fascism.

DR: I have not personally seen a rise in what supremacists in Michigan. However, we have heard of incidents on college campuses of groups spreading a racist agenda. The best way for Michigan, or any state, to respond to the rise of fascism is through education.

TNS: What your thoughts on ANTIFA? Do you think their tactics help or hurt the struggle to defeat fascism?

DR: ANTIFA is a response to this outspoken hatred. If they hurt or help the struggle to defeat fascism, is kind of up to the populace to decide.

TNS: Since we first spoke at the start of the summer til now, how would you size up the state of your campaign at this point? Any gains or defeat?

DR:  Our state campaign is going well We toured the state this summer. That tour ended last month. We are now focusing more on social media as it is less time consuming and more cost effective. Currently, it’s too early early to talk about gains or defeats.

TNS: What 3 things would you like to accomplish via your campaign, regardless of whether or not win or lose?

DR: Protections for all Michiganders; expansion of our democracy, and renewables/protecting the environment.

TNS: If you win, at the end of your term, what would you like Michiganders to remember you for?

DR:  Not acting like a politician.

TNS: What motivates you as an activist?

DR: Seeing the blatant disregard for human life as the price for greed.

TNS: What advice would you give young people just becoming politically active?

DR: Get involved, we need you, but be true to yourself and don’t compromise your beliefs.

TNS: What do you think progressive change would look like in Michigan?

DR: I see a Michigan, where workers are treated with dignity. Where people play a part in their democracy, in government and at work. I dream of place where everyone has quality in their life and no longer have to worry about medical bills or student loan debt.

TNS: What does the coming revolution look like to you?

DR: Its hard to tell. Even harder to know if it will be in favor of the people. I hope that it is in favor of everyone and done peacefully, because if it’s not, it won’t last for long.

TNS: What would you like to say to potential supporters, phone bankers, donors, etc around the country, that might see and read this interview?

DR: You will never agree 100% with any candidate, that’s part of being an independent human being, but if you agree with what you have read here – join us.

TNS: What would you say to Michiganders?

DR: Michigan needs a governor that will stand with the people. Who knows the difference between right and wrong. That will fight against policies and legislation that are hurtful to people and our environment. No more pandering to the rich or to the corporations. No more selling our freedoms. Find out more at www.reynoldsformichigan.com  and get involved.

TNS: Please sum up your campaign in a phrase or a single sentence?

DR: Working to secure a better life for everyone.

TNS: Thank you Dwain for your time.

DR: Thank you Jim, it’s been a pleasure. Keep fighting the good fight.

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