December 2, 2016

Lieber runs campaign to inspire youth

Democratic representative Arthur Lieber does not have the campaign funding or the party endorsements Republican Incumbent Ann Wagner has in the race for representative of Missouri’s 2nd Congressional District.

Lieber said he does not even have the endorsements from his own political party.

“A lot of Democrats really do not want to be associated with my campaign because the way I’m handling money is different from the way they do,” Lieber said.

Lieber funds his campaign for Missouri’s 2nd Congressional district on his own dime and, effective this past May, campaign contributions of at-most $10.10, a symbol for his support for raising the Missouri minimum wage. Lieber said he has received checks from supporters as high as $50, but sent them back.

Lieber said the primary focus of his campaign is to get big money out of politics and elections, which is why a commanding majority of his campaign funds have come from his own pocket.

“In terms of making ends meet, I have put in $60,000 of my own money, which is not what I most desire to do. Ultimately, what I would like to do is have a system of public financing so I have some money to get the word out now.  But at least I’m not being bought by someone else,” Lieber said. 

Wagner, who did not respond to interview requests from The Journal, is not taking the same approach as Lieber. According to OpenSecrets.org, a non-partisan political information website, Wagner has received over $2.2 million in contributions from individuals and political action committees (PACs) to her campaign.

Lieber, who runs an educational consulting business he started with his wife, said there are two points to running for office without big money contributions from big companies like Boeing or Peabody Energy, both contributors of Wagner. The first point is to show people that someone can run for office without having a lot of money. The second point is that running without relying on big money makes for a better candidate; one that focuses more on taking care of the people who are struggling to make ends meet instead of raising campaign funds.

“So often we talk about how we have to have fiscal restraint, we have to limit what we’re going to do” Lieber said. “But I think we continually fail to take care of the people who are presently on this Earth and the stronger that the given population is at any given time, then the stronger the future would be.”

If he wins the congressional seat for Missouri’s 2nd district, Lieber said he would focus on directing more money to school lunches and making college more affordable through lowered interest rates. He would also try to raise the minimum wage to $10.10.

Dan Hellinger, a Webster University professor of International Relations, said that although he believes Lieber’s campaign to be symbolic, he agrees with Lieber on the subject of raising the minimum wage.

“It needs to happen because it is the right thing to do for people who cannot afford to live on less than that,” Hellinger said.                                              “Most of the people working in fast food restaurants now are not young people or teenagers, they’re people that are trying to support a family.”

Win or lose, Lieber said he hopes his campaign inspires colleges students and those who are a part of the younger generation to get involved in the political arena, either by running for government positions or becoming more proactive in educating themselves on politics.

“We have to have more than the old farts participating in the political process,” Lieber said.

Hellinger said because both Republicans and Democrats are distant from the lives of the voters, getting people interested in politics will be difficult. In order to make a difference, Hellinger said people would need to start grassroot groups and tackle specific issues, like the ones facing Ferguson. But regardless of what people do, going to the polls is a must.

“I think everybody should at least go to the polls and I think if you don’t like the candidates, you either write someone in or spoil your ballot or do something to protest. But staying at home is not the way to have influence,” Hellinger said. “Most of the people working in fast food restaurants now are not young people or teenagers, they’re people that are trying to support a family.”

Win or lose, Lieber said he hopes his campaign inspires college students and those who are a part of the younger generation to get involved in the political arena, either by running for government positions or becoming more proactive in educating themselves on politics.

“We have to have more than the old farts participating in the political process,” Lieber said.

Hellinger said because both republicans and democrats are distant from the lives of the voters, getting people interested in politics will be difficult. In order to make a difference, Hellinger said people would need to start grassroot groups and tackle specific issues, like the ones facing Ferguson. But regardless of what people do, going to the polls is a must.

“I think everybody should at least go to the polls and I think if you don’t like the candidates, you either write someone in or spoil your ballot or do something to protest. But staying at home is not the way to have influence,” Hellinger said.

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