My questionnaire completed for the INDY Week newspaper based in Durham.
Name: Michael Trudeau
Party affiliation: Green Party
Campaign website: www.michaeltrudeau.org
Occupation & employer: Self-employed book editor
Years lived in North Carolina: 10
1. What in your background qualifies you to represent the people of your North Carolina district effectively? What would you cite as your three biggest career accomplishments?
Contrary to the beliefs of the political elites and capitalists, I believe regular working people like me and you have the qualifications to represent the interests of the people. I've worked since the age of 15, have a master’s degree, and have been involved in antiwar, anti-corporate, and environmental activism for over 20 years. I’ve experienced student debt. I’ve experienced unemployment, underemployment, and health challenges. I have a child in a Title One public school with a disability. I am more qualified to be a state senator than any career politician or businessman. I’m running for NC State Senate to give people who typically don’t vote a reason to vote and to help build the NCGP into a mass ecological socialist party that puts people and the planet first and capitalism in the dustbin.
As an organizer with both the 2016 Jill Stein / Ajamu Baraka and 2020 Howie Hawkins / Angela Walker Green Party presidential campaigns, as well as other Green campaigns, I’ve labored tirelessly to win ballot access for the Green Party, particularly in North Carolina and Missouri, as well as across the country. I believe we need a new party to effect progressive change, and we cannot win socialism or even progressive reforms without a mass-membership, anti-capitalist party that challenges the capitalist two-party racket. My campaign is as much about building a mass ecosocialist party as it is about winning a seat in the NC Senate.
As a self-employed book editor, my other accomplishments include having edited political works by prominent activists and intellectuals like Julian Assange, Amy Goodman, and Noam Chomsky.
2. What do you believe to be the three most pressing issues facing the next General Assembly? What steps do you believe the state should take to address them?
- Right to Abortion: With the passage of extremist anti-abortion laws in the US, the NC General Assembly must act now to make our state an Abortion Sanctuary, including passing legislation to (a) prohibit enforcement of anti-abortion laws, (b) protect pregnant people, doctors, and other care providers facing persecution for abortion, and (c) prohibit police from arresting patients and providers and aiding investigations related to anti-abortion laws in the US.
- Healthcare for All: The General Assembly must declare healthcare a human right, and in the absence of a federal National Health Service, it must create a statewide North Carolina Health Service, making healthcare free or very low cost, or both, to all residents and visitors, regardless of citizenship, and accountable to the people, not profiteers. Such healthcare must include, of course, the right to a safe and free abortion.
- Right to Free, High-Quality, Whole-Child Education: (a) Teachers’ salaries should be increased to attract and retain great teachers so our children develop critical thinking, empathy, and cooperation in a changing world. Education should be a public service for the public good, not a money-making enterprise that diverts public funds into private coffers, often through charter schools that have run afoul of their charters and undermine public school funding. (b) The legislature must acknowledge North Carolina’s colonial history, in which it enslaved and brutalized Black and brown people for the sake of white settlement and white enrichment, and curriculum should thus be given from the perspectives of Black and brown voices, highlighting their struggles under US colonialism and capitalism and how those struggles still manifest today. Likewise, curriculum should include the struggles of LGBTQIA people, which includes transgender and gender-nonconforming or nonbinary people; understanding and empathizing with the struggles of the most marginalized people in our society is essential to creating a responsible, compassionate citizenry.
In all three of the above cases and others, we will need a people’s party that is independent of the Democratic and Republican Party facades to truly fight for these things. Relying on non-party “progressive” nonprofit and labor organizations to pressure Democratic politicians has proved not to be enough, since those organizations have noble intentions but often support the Democratic Party by default and its politicians anyhow, whose capitalist policies are antithetical to the important reforms these nonprofits and labor organizations earnestly call for.
3. To what extent do you support municipalities exerting local control over issues such as regulating greenhouse gas emissions, criminal justice reforms and police oversight, and passing development-regulating ordinances?
Municipalities should have the right to determine policies for strong, progressive regulation to fight pollution and fight out-of-control development and for abolition of the police institution as we know it today. And municipalities should do this by creating space for civic associations of regular people, not businesses, to come together to determine policy. But this is currently not possible in North Carolina, as we are not a Home Rule state in most matters. The state legislature has a long history of abusing this position, lording its backward ideology over municipalities and towns, thus preventing them from exerting their authority and leaving more progressive towns and municipalities to cope with the fallout.
On the other hand, the state government must sometimes step in when needed to ensure municipalities and towns do not pass laws that impede people’s human and civil rights, such as the right to free, quality education; the right to free, quality healthcare, including the right to abortion; the right to a clean and healthy environment; and much more. So this is a very tough question to answer; it gets at the very roots of what a democracy is. And so instead of my providing an answer to this question on a questionnaire, we will need the mass civic engagement of regular people I mentioned above to answer this question.
4. Do you support raising North Carolina’s minimum wage, and if so by how much? If not, what other initiatives would you take to support low-income families in North Carolina?
Our campaign supports raising the North Carolina minimum wage to $22 an hour – we call it a living wage. The current minimum wage of $7.25 is a shameful starvation wage. It’s my belief that companies have no right to exist as employers of other people if they cannot or will not pay a living wage.
5. With rent, property taxes, and home sale prices all rising, what, if anything, should the state legislature do to address this growing affordability crisis?
Our Green Party campaign calls for affordable housing for all people. This can be done by instituting public housing and statewide rent control. It is cheaper for the government itself to build housing than it is for the government to subsidize private, for-profit housing developers. Relying on private developers to provide affordable housing clearly has not worked and will not work – their incentive is to build unaffordable upper-class housing, because that is what yields the higher profit. We must turn the entire system on its head so that housing every single person is the motive, not profit.
6. Do you believe that the state government has an obligation to prevent the impacts of climate change? If so, please state three specific policies you support to address climate change.
It is the state government’s job to curb climate change and its effects. Our campaign calls for the following three policies, among others: (1) ban new fossil-fuel developments and fracking; (2) develop green building design, including rooftop solar, thermal-energy heat pumps, and other energy-efficient designs; (2) institute zero-waste manufacturing and recycling, including banning plastic bags, plastic packaging, and other plastics / mandating compostable bags, compostable packaging, and other compostable materials instead of plastics.
7. Would you support an independent process for drawing new legislative and congressional districts?
Yes. Both the Democratic and Republican Parties are guilty of cynical gerrymandering and should not be allowed to participate in drawing up voting districts.
8. Does the General Assembly have a constitutional obligation to comply with the state Supreme Court order in the Leandro case to fully fund public schools and give every child in North Carolina a sound basic education?
Yes. Free, high-quality education, from preK-12 and even through college, is a human right. But our current system of funding education via local property tax revenues does not treat education as a right; the property-tax model treats education as a privilege afforded to upper-middle-class families. Instead, we should fund public education on an equal per-capita basis, regardless of the wealth of the community.
9. When it comes to teacher pay, North Carolina is one of the lowest-paying states in the nation. Schools across the state are facing shortages of educators, support staff, and other key personnel. Do you support raising teacher pay to at least the national average? What else can the General Assembly do to improve working conditions for teachers and make the teaching profession more attractive to potential future educators?
We must give educators a big raise. Teachers’ salaries should be increased to attract and retain great teachers so our children develop critical thinking, empathy, and cooperation in a changing world. We must also end standardized testing and instead trust teachers’ expertise to assess our children’s accomplishments, among other reforms to make teaching and learning more joyous and rewarding.
10. The U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling this spring that overturned Roe v. Wade. The legal cutoff for abortion in North Carolina is now 20 weeks. Do you believe the 20-week cutoff is too restrictive, not restrictive enough, or just right? As a state lawmaker, would you support legislation that further limits or prohibits abortion in North Carolina, or punishes/criminalizes abortion providers or patients?
A 20-week cutoff is too restrictive. There should be no cutoff, because for one, there is always potential for the life of the pregnant person to be in danger. As a state senator I would call for an ABORTION SANCTUARY in which abortions are legal and free in this state, and where the state would also not aid abortion-regressive states in their prosecution and punishment of women and girls who seek abortions and the care providers who aid them.
11. Should North Carolina expand Medicaid? Where do you stand on increasing the number of slots for the Innovations Waiver for special needs individuals?
Yes, North Carolina should expand Medicaid. Regarding the number of slots available for special-needs individuals, why would we ration these slots in the first place? The purpose of the home-care provision is to save money, and the amount per year is already limited. Rationing healthcare to save money is tantamount to admitting that the state is not willing to take care of vulnerable individuals.
12. Do you support reforming North Carolina’s marijuana laws? Do you support full legalization? Please explain your position.
As a Green, I believe that the course we have pursued over the past half century of our War on Drugs has been a financial boondoggle. Criminalizing drugs means creating more criminals by definition, and our prisons are already overcrowded and underfunded. If someone has an addiction problem it should be treated as a medical issue, not a criminal offense. The history of the War on Drugs in America is the history of a classist and racist war against working people and people of color. Our campaign promotes the legalization of drugs and treating drug abuse as a medical issue. Toward this goal, we aim to:
- Legalize cannabis and its derivatives at the state and federal level. Cannabis use is safer than alcohol and tobacco use, and criminalization has been driven by ideological and racial bias.
- Grant amnesty to and release from confinement—without any further parole or probation—all people who have been incarcerated for the use, sale, or cultivation of marijuana in federal and state prisons and in county/city jails. Strike from the record prior felony convictions for cannabis/marijuana possession, sale, or cultivation.
- Prohibit big pharma, liquor, tobacco, and industrialized agribusiness from exploiting legalization. Encourage worker-ownership of cannabis enterprises and organic production methods, and protect consumers from pesticides and chemical additives.
- Avoid attempts to use this new industry to fund social programs through “sin” taxes. Instead, tax the wealthy and corporations to pay for schools and healthcare.
13. Do you support strengthening gun safety regulations such as expanding background checks, banning bump stocks, and raising the age to buy or otherwise regulating the sales of assault-style weapons? Please explain.
Assault-style rifles should be banned not just for individual use but also for police and military use. I believe in the right to own a sensible firearm – not an assault rifle – and support more extensive background checks and banning bump stocks, sure, but we must acknowledge that these regulatory measures and similar ones are merely bandaids. We live in a highly policed, hyper-militarized, and extremely inequitable society in the largest military power the world has ever known. We must address those systemic violences and the culture of violence they impart before we can hope to address mass shootings and other gun violence.
14. Are there any issues this questionnaire has not addressed that you would like to address?
Duke Energy has not been an asset for the people of North Carolina. Rather, through pollution, rate hikes, cutoffs, and the corporation’s focus on profits, it delivers overpriced energy to those who can afford to pay. In the 21st century, we cannot treat access to energy, clean water, and clean air as a privilege. Duke Energy should be bought out or directly appropriated by the state and run as a state utility, with a policy of no cutoffs for people experiencing financial difficulties. The workforce for doing this already exists – we need only convert Duke’s current essential employees to state employees, with all the benefits afforded to them that are currently afforded to state employees. This not-for-profit approach to running the utilities grid will do a lot to reduce working people’s bills.