Meet Daniel Whitfield, The Progressive Who Wants To Represent Arkansas In The Senate
Daniel Whitfield is a progressive candidate seeking to oust incumbent Republican Sen. Tom Cotton in Arkansas. Sen. Cotton, who has received only 18.5% of his funding from small-dollar donations, is a major recipient of Goldman Sachs contributions ($158k), and large donations from the Securities and Investment industry ($1.8m). He has also received $561,000 from the fossil fuel industry, and a plethora of other dubious sources, including Lockheed Martin, Wells Fargo, the Koch brothers, and "Crownquest Operating", which made "Chron's" list of "Top 10 permian basin drillers" in 2018. Sen. Cotton has continuously supported the fossil fuel industry's ongoing environmental desecration, and is quoted as saying "We should be building more [coal plants] like that. We should be building more nuclear facilities. We should be expanding exploration for oil and gas..."
I spoke with his progressive challenger, Daniel Whitfield, regarding his candidacy for Cotton's Senate seat; I asked how he imagined he could win the election in a "red state" like Arkansas (a state that went to Donald Trump by almost 30 percentage points in 2016) with progressive policy positions. He stated his need to "speak to huge numbers of Arkansans", emphasizing the need to have the "cold, hard facts" on his side. He said that "If I can talk to enough people and show them how conservative politics has failed them I can beat Tom Cotton." He described the cost-of-living-to-wage ratio in Arkansas, a factor that should convince voters in the state to vote in their own best interest. We also discussed corruption, and how "In the current political climate, where corporations donate unlimited amounts of money to candidates via PACs and SuperPACs, how... we go about restoring democracy". He stated that "... repealing Citizen's United is a great first step", while calling out the Koch brothers' purchasing of political candidates, advocating that "A constituent should be able to go online and access their representatives bank statements to see where and how they spend their money, as well as seeing exactly how much tax revenue was generated and where it was spent".
Since we were discussing corruption, I felt it a pertinent issue to discuss those that expose it, so I asked pointedly, "Is Julian Assange a hero, or a troublemaker?" His answer was as unequivocal as my question; "Julian Assange is a hero. He is a journalist that takes on those people think too powerful to fall. Wikileaks has NEVER published an article that is not 100% fact checked and true and has NEVER published an article that could cause physical harm to any individual. The only people that are hurt by the information he shares with the public are those that are involved with illegal activities." He wasn't done. He furthermore stated that "Not only should we free Julian, we should make him press secretary to the president of the United States of America. If someone is threatened by information released by Wikileaks, it’s because they are hiding a crime, or crimes."
Pertaining to the federal minimum wage, Whitfield notes, "An American should NOT have to live paycheck to paycheck while working 40 hours per week. In America today in a HUGE majority of the country a single mother can’t even afford a two bedroom apartment on minimum wage while working 40 hours per week. Minimum wage should federally be the amount required to pay bills, buy food, pay for medical, combined plus 50% more for savings. I pledge to fight for $15 an hour here in the beautiful state of Arkansas." he says "I think states should take the responsibility to ensure in more urban areas that the minimum wage matches what’s required to live in those areas, county by county."
Finally, I asked about a federal jobs guarantee. He stated that "The new deal was one of America’s greatest achievements in my mind. We absolutely need a new new deal! If a person is willing to work then let them work! I fully support a federal jobs guarantee and would love to sit with experts in order to create a feasible way to get Americans that are able and willing to work, back to work." He advocated further that such a jobs guarantee should be within the framework of renewable, sustainable energy, stating that "A great start would be on training able bodied Americans to build and maintain clean energy facilities. Train them to work in the wind, solar, and hydro fields. A republican mayor in Texas was able to convert 100% of the cities energy to clean energy, and every citizen there is not only proud of what they accomplished, but happy with their $20/month electricity bills. Oilfield workers that now work in wind farms not only work in 10x safer environments, but love their new jobs and the hours they work. I believe we should use this model as a basis for what can be accomplished in every American city."