Joshua Collins is a candidate running for Washington State’s 10th Congressional district. He is a self-described socialist. If you want to read more about his platform go to https://www.joshua2020.com/platform
Transcriber’s Note: The interview has been transcribed as it was, for the most part. Words that are solely part of conversation (such as “um”) have been omitted. Some words have been added in brackets “” to help the transcription flow better.
What are some issues that you would say uniquely affect your district?
Joshua: The number one issue in my district is definitely housing. We not only have skyrocketing rent prices but we also have really high homelessness rates. Rent is going up for a single year here and it’s already unaffordable. It was unaffordable four years ago and it’s just getting worse. Definitely housing.
To fix the issues with housing in our countries, what do you think is the best solution?
Joshua: I think the best solution is actually providing public housing, and that means building millions of social housing units around the country. We would have to repeal the Faircloth amendment, which was passed during the Clinton administration, and have the Department of Housing and Urban Development actually build housing in places where it’s needed.
And would that be an alternative or in addition to rent control?
Joshua: In addition to. I think we need federal rent control as well. Personally, I think one of the things we should do is a national rent freeze and make it so that no one is allowed to increase rent prices until we actually see a significant decline in homelessness rates.
Would you support something like the [raising of the] price of rent, and landlords being allowed to increase it with the rate of inflation, or should it just be a default raise?
Joshua: Currently, landlords are one of the biggest determining factors of inflation because cost of living up is a big factor in how much your dollar is stretched. I guess so. I think right now what we need to do is freeze rent prices and not allow any landlords to be increasing prices. They’re already so high, all over the country. Even more rural places are affected by this, especially in my state.
So, I think nationally, we should be talking about not allowing any increases in rent prices at least for the next several years, and as far as rent control, I mean, that would be a much more complex thing, but currently I think housing is such a huge crisis and emergency that we should treat it as such and actually [utilize] a national rent freeze.
The Rose Caucus
Why is being a member of the Rose Caucus important to you?
Joshua: So, the Rose Caucus was created around the policy platform that our campaign essentially did all the work to create. So, our policy was already over two hundred policies, and it was so well received, and we decided to make that the standard for endorsement by other candidates. At some point there were so many candidates willing to adopt our policy, as well as go follow a few different requirements, that we decided to give it a name, and the Rose Caucus was then formed.
Now, I think there’s over thirty candidates, and all the money donated to the Rose Caucus gets split between all of us evenly, and it’s raised close to 15,000 dollars. So, it’s a really great thing that we’re doing, and it’s making it so that we have a party line, and if you see that someone is in the Rose Caucus, you know what they believe in, you know what policies they’re going to push for, and you know they are explicitly a socialist, not someone who is going to try and represent the needs of both the working class and the rich, which is frankly impossible.
Voting and Representation
We recently spoke to another member, Antonio Hicks, and we actually saw you on his Twitter following list, so that’s how we got to you. Do you think your state’s voting system is ready or prepared, or do you think it’s incompetent at the moment?
Joshua: Do you mean for the presidential election, or the congressional primaries?
Just in general, do you think your state’s handling their voting systems well?
Joshua: I think Washington might actually have the best system in the country. It’s entirely mail-in ballots, and you have essentially two weeks to mail in your ballot. We have automatic voter registration, and you can also confirm that your ballots were counted and received online, and you can also watch the ballots being counted, so I think we have a really good system; I don’t think many states have anything that comes close.
Of course, it could be improved. I do think we could do something like the rank-choice voting system, and we also need publicly financed elections for the whole state. Currently, Seattle has publicly financed elections, and it’s just essentially everyone who is able to vote, can. They get a gift card, almost, in the mail, worth a hundred bucks, they give it to a candidate of their choice, and that candidate then receives actual money for it. So, that’s something I think we should do on the state level and also on the national level.
Law Enforcement and Gun Regulation
How do you think law enforcement should be regulated in our country?
Joshua: I think law enforcement should be demilitarized. Currently, our police forces act like an invading army, and I think one of the steps we should take with that is demilitarizing them. On the federal level, what that looks like is no longer selling military surplus equipment to police forces, because they look and act like invading armies when they are armed. So, that’s one big step. I also think we need direct Democratic control of police forces in communities, and we have a whole host of policies that I think should be implemented, and those are mostly directly sourced from the movement for black lives.
And what’s your opinion on gun regulation for civilians?
Joshua: I’m actually very different from other politicians in that area. I have decided to take an entirely different approach from other politicians and candidates. Both Republicans and Democrats are pushing for either regulation versus no regulation. I think we should move towards a community armory system, similar to what you would see in a country like Switzerland.
In more socialist or democratic socialist circles, at least from what I’ve seen, there’s a divide between people who consider themselves members of ethnic SRA which is the socialist rival organization, and other groups which would consider themselves liberal gunners. What do you think about their take on guns?
Joshua: I think there is a knee-jerk reaction to focus on the actual guns and I think we need to start having a conversation about ammunition. Ammunition is a much easier thing to regulate, and I think both Conservatives and Democrats would agree that it’s easier to pass legislation regulating ammunition than it is to pass legislation regulating guns. Personally, I think that is the approach we should take: actually regulating ammunition. I think that both sides kind of go the wrong way with this.
I think it was Beto O’Rourke who said something like, “You’re d*** right, we’re gonna take your guns,” and I think that is just unnecessarily antagonistic to people who don’t want to give up their guns. I think it’s also not okay to say we shouldn’t do anything about mass shootings, because we clearly should. We should make sure our society is a safe one, with a healthy gun culture, not this one where people can just commit mass shootings left and right and almost nothing is done about it.
If you own a gun in South Africa, you’re legally required to have a gun safe and the police will do random checks to make sure you have the key for your gun safe on you at all times, so there’s not as much of a risk of it getting stolen. Would you support a mandatory gun safe law for gun owners in the United States?
Joshua: I do think people should have gun safes if they are owning a gun. I think it’s not the number one thing causing them, but I think requiring gun safes would prevent accidental shootings, [such as when] children get a hold of a gun. So, I would support that.
What’s your opinion on bump stock bans?
Joshua: We should ban bump stocks. They are clearly modified and more dangerous than they should be.
What do you think we should do to combat climate change?
Joshua: In order to combat climate change, we need a radical green new field that actually provides all of the necessary infrastructure in order for us to make that transition without hurting the working class. That means very rapidly building high-quality public green energy transportation, which means trains and buses, and having them in place in a way that it allows people not to own cars if they don’t want to. But also, we need to do a buyback program for people who do have gas cars and want to turn them in for an electric car.
We also need to fix our transportation system. That can all be transitioned to green energy, and I think basically the whole thing cannot be fixed without spending money. I think that’s kind of the root of the issue. A lot of politicians don’t want to spend money on this, but I think it’s the most important thing, so it requires us to actually invest in transitioning our entire economy to a green energy economy, as opposed to this oil-based and war-based economy.
And, one of the new challenges that comes with installing public transport at a national level in the United States is just the sheer size of the country. So, do you think the United States should work with companies and groups like Amtrak to build off of their infrastructure? What do you think we should do?
Joshua: I think our train system should be publicly owned. I don’t think we should include a profit incentive in it. I think all of this should be done by the government because if we allow companies to have their piece of the pie, it makes everything more expensive and it also will make things lower quality. I don’t think corporations should have any influence on how our public transportation system works.
One of the issues that comes to mind with car buybacks is that there’s a very large carbon toll associated with making an electric car, because to make the battery, you have to mine lithium to get lithium-ion batteries. So, do you think a better approach would be to encourage people to keep their cars and try to less frequently buy new cars? Since one of the biggest emissions is just the creation of the car, we could cut a lot of emissions and people would simply buy cars less frequently. Once you have a car, keep it.
Joshua: Well, transitioning to green energy means that we’re transitioning our whole system to green energy. That would include powering things like the acquisition of resources and the manufacturing of cars with green energy. It would have to go all the way up to the very beginning of the creation of the car. Currently, the system we do have is not necessarily true that an electric car is carbon neutral, and so I think that is something that we can address by transitioning our entire economy to green energy, and also creating trade deals and influencing the world economy around green energy.
If we transition our entire economy to green energy, I think we would see the world follow with us. I think that’s just what it’s going to take; just a radical transition led by the United States. I view the transition to green energy like the space race. We had a goal, and we put it in place, and did everything we could to do it, and we managed to do the impossible and I think we can do that again with the green energy race.
For making the production of cars more sustainable, one of the obvious things we could do is use green energy, like solar [energy], wind [energy], hydro[power], whatever makes sense in the location of the factory. What do you think we should do about the acquisition of lithium? So, how could we avoid taking over countries like Bolivia to acquire lithium and other minerals that are needed in the production of cars, and specifically, electric cars?
Joshua: Well, I think a big solution to the lithium battery problem is actually hydrogen powered vehicles. It’s most apparent when you look at green energy trucks like semi-trucks. Semi-trucks with batteries are really inefficient. They can’t do long haul at all, and if we were to suddenly mandate battery-electric trucks to carry everything, we would see entire parts of the country not receiving their resources.
But, we have hydrogen-power trucks; technology that already exists, as well as hydrogen-powered cars. The nice thing about hydrogen fuel is that it can be produced with green energy. So, I think that’s what we should be looking at; literally using water and electricity to create hydrogen fuel. We should invest extensively in creating a system that relies on hydrogen fuel rather than battery electric vehicles that are charging on lithium-ion batteries.
Currently, the reason that we don’t use hydrogen fuel is because the infrastructure requires a lot of investment. We would have to put hydrogen fueling systems everywhere instead of gas stations, and that is not cheap, and that’s the only reason we haven’t done that. If we did do that though, it would make it a much more logical, rational, sustainable, system.
I did some quick research into hydrogen fuel. Apparently, it’s quite frequently used in public transport with buses. Mercedes-Benz spent a ludicrous amount of money on it. It’s actually a really nice alternative to lithium.
Joshua: A big misconception about them is that they’re like giant bombs, but they’re no less dangerous than gasoline. You’re probably more at risk of problems with a lithium-ion battery, because they can explode, and hydrogen fuel actually doesn’t. It’s not at a risk of explosion beyond what a gasoline or diesel vehicle would have.
So, what’s your opinion on nuclear energy? Should we do it, or should we not?
Joshua: I don’t see that it’s necessary, and the technology that is often cited as the solution isn’t really there yet. I think storage is one of the biggest things to consider when we talk about nuclear energy. The nuclear waste has to be stored for forever, essentially, or thousands of years, and with the current state of the planet, you would have to build every single nuclear power plant, as well as every single nuclear waste storage system, as essentially, indestructible.
They would have to be able to withstand the elements, and particularly withstand the unexpected natural disasters, because we are not only seeing the frequency of natural disasters rising, but also the severity of natural disasters. So, I don’t think that’s a good route to take, and I don’t think it’s necessary. I’ve looked at the science and the data, and it looks like we can transition without using nuclear energy. So, if that’s the case, I would prefer that we do that.
Racism and Fascism
Let’s move on to the next topic. So, what do you think is the best way to combat racism and fascism in our country?
Joshua: I think we need to dismantle racism at its roots by just ending systemic racism. Our society has been designed to benefit the already wealthy, and it’s also always been skewed in favor of white landowners. That’s been throughout our history, and today, you can see the downstream effects of that, and the massive wealth gap between white families and black families.
I think that’s something that needs to be addressed. I do think we should be paying reparations for the descendents of slaves, as well as people who have been incarcerated for marijuana offenses. Indigenous people should also be paid reparations from the government, for the past crimes of the government, and I think the way we pay for that is by wealth tax on billionaires.
Other things that we do need to do is fix our education system. We need to stop funding them with property taxes and start putting them in a more decentralized way, because the result of that is you have poor areas with poorly funded schools, and rich areas with really well funded schools.
I think that’s a ridiculous system that obviously leads to continuing this segregated system of high quality schools for rich white people, and then low quality school for poor black people. That’s one system that we need to fix, and we also need to crack down on housing discrimination as well, which includes things such as, if you’re black, you are often discriminated against because of your hair, and we need to end that on the federal level and make it illegal to discriminate against someone because of their hairstyle. There’s other things we can do, I guess.
How do you think we should handle reparations?
Joshua: I think we should have a commission that studies how much wealth should be paid to descendants of slaves, and actually [how much has been] paid out. It would require some studying to be done.
I also support structural reparations, but I think we clearly need to also be cutting a check to people who are [suffering the] disadvantages of having been born into slavery, and having been passed down. On top of that [there is] Jim Crow, and all these other problems that our society has just rested on black families. I think we should pay out for that.
Those people are owed wealth or owed money for what has been done to them and their ancestors. So, I think that’s something that we should just do. It makes the most rational sense to me. If a cop shoots someone, the city is usually asked to pay for what they’ve done to that family. I think it’s the same for decades and centuries of oppression and enslavement.
Universal Basic Income
So, do you support UBI, or any form of UBI?
Joshua: I would support a universal basic income on top of my policies as long as it’s progressively funded and not paid for with regressive taxation. I also would never support one that is exclusionary of the disabled, marginalized communities, people who are food insecure, or single parents, etc. However, if it was actually truly a universal basic income that just flat-out paid a thousand bucks a month, [for example], to every person in the country, then, sure, I would support it.
I think we should guarantee a lot of things as rights regardless, and I don’t think you should need a thousand dollars to ensure that you get healthcare. I think we should have single-payer healthcare that guarantees healthcare for everyone, so even if you don’t have a thousand dollars a month, or you don’t have any money, you should still be able to receive healthcare or secure housing, etc.
That’s the type of society I want to live in, and if the universal basic income redistributes wealth from the top one percent to the working class of the country – if that were on the table – I would come out and support it.
Would you want it to be situational? So, let’s say if someone has kids and they’re a single parent, do you think they should get more in a UBI stipend, or do you think it should just be a flat UBI?
Joshua: I’m not sure. I haven’t really thought about a UBI much, but I just know that I really wasn’t a fan of how Andrew Yang’s was being proposed. But, I would support one, but I just don’t really have a plan for myself, I guess.
Thank you for your time and your answers! Is there anything else you want to say?
Joshua: Just that, I guess I could talk about a couple of our endorsements. We were recently endorsed by the Washington climate strike movement, the endorsement I’m the most proud of. They are a radical youth organization that is advocating for a strike by the working class in order to get action on climate change as well as other gaits that are working fast, and that is something I’m very proud to have. They announced that about a week ago.
I’m also endorsed by Our Revolution National, the Olympia DSA, and Our Revolution Pierce County, and Our Revolution Washington. That’s just some background info on us. If elected, I would be the youngest member of Congress, the first openly autistic member of Congress, and of course, the first truck driver in Congress. If anyone does want to donate, or if they want to sign up to volunteer, they can do so at Joshua2020.com