ST. GEORGE — As a full-time trucker, Reed McCandless says driving across the country has given him unique perspective on the pulse of the voting public.
“If you go out and talk to people – at truck stops, wherever – 7 out of 10 people say, ‘You know, the whole Republican/Democrat thing really ain’t working,’” McCandless said in a telephone interview with St. George News from the road in rural North Dakota.
In August 2017, McCandless launched a campaign as the Independent American Party nominee for the U.S. Senate seat currently occupied by Orrin Hatch.
McCandless says the country’s two-party system isn’t resulting in working solutions and he wants to offer voters an alternative to the status quo.
“I think we need a new start,” he said.
McCandless’ career has spanned multiple industries, having worked in farming and software, including a stint with the Utah-based company Corel of WordPerfect fame, as well as working in IT for Intermountain Healthcare.
“I could have had a pretty good career at IHC with the computer side of it, but it just wasn’t exciting,” he said, explaining how he got into trucking.
Now, he’s turned his attention to another exciting venture as a candidate for U.S. Senate.
Previously a lifelong Republican, Reed said things changed in 2014 when he came across information about the events surrounding Sept. 11, 2001, regarding the fall of “building seven” of the World Trade Center in New York City.
“It is discouraging because you think, ‘My gosh, we’re living a lie,’” he said.
McCandless says the national tragedy, in which thousands of U.S. citizens were killed, became an excuse for politicians to use the country’s military might in an imperialistic manner.
“I’ve come to realize the United States, really the whole country – the military – is really being used for things other than protecting our freedom,” McCandless said.
“They talk about patriotism,” he said. “It’s like all you have to do is wave the red, white and blue, and we’ll be dummies for you no matter what you ask.
“As much as the voters like to think we have a say in things, we are absolutely being used as a front to destroy the strength of other countries. People are going to wake up to that.”
McCandless hopes his campaign can serve as a wake-up call to voters who so overwhelmingly vote in the established Democrat/Republican binary.
McCandless points to this year’s senatorial election in Utah, in which Mitt Romney is seen by many as a shoo-in, as a glaring example of how the two-party system is disenfranchising a vast portion of the electorate.
“People don’t like Romney out in the rural areas,” he said. “People are looking for someone else to vote for. What do they do?”
Besides Romney and Democratic challenger Jenny Wilson, the race comes down to McCandless as the Independent American Party candidate, Craig Bowden as the Libertarian candidate and Tim Aalders as the Constitution Party candidate. But McCandless argues that Aalders doesn’t actually represent anything other than the Republican status quo.
McCandless said he received a call from a concerned voter who was upset that Aalders ran on the Constitution Party ticket but is instead campaigning as what Aalders calls the “true Republican” alternative to Romney.
McCandless said his candidacy is one of the few real alternatives to the Democrat/Republican dynamic.
“I’m literally the best candidate,” he said. “I really am.”
On the issues
Noting that he is a strong supporter of the U.S. Constitution – particularly of Second Amendment rights – McCandless said there are some major changes that need to happen in the country in order to restore the principles of the Constitution, and he’s willing to shake things up if elected.
McCandless said he is strongly opposed to corporate monopolies and the political interests that back them, seemingly without question.
“Everything that’s established, whether it’s the health care industry, the banking industry, you protect all these industries,” he said, referring to politicians.
In the fight for medical marijuana legalization, he points to the established monopolies of pharmaceutical and health care industries as some of the major stumbling blocks toward legalizing the drug for medicinal uses.
“If you look at the health care industry, who is hurting,” he asked.
McCandless said it’s not the providers, insurance brokers or hospitals that are suffering, but rather – particularly in the example of medical marijuana – it’s the patients the industry is supposed to protect who are hurting.
“Looking out for the little guys is not a bad thing,” he said.
McCandless says the marijuana issue is a multifaceted example of how corporate interests throw their weight around, explaining how the hemp industry was put out of business by special interests from the wood industry that worried hemp would challenge their production of paper products.
“Hemp was such a threat to some of the wood businesses that they categorized hemp with marijuana,” he said.
McCandless says President Donald Trump is a good example of someone who’s willing to make changes without bowing to established corporate monopolies and political interests.
“I love this president. I love him because he cares about this country. He cares about the workers of this country,” McCandless said, noting that he doesn’t think Trump is perfect.
“We’re not blind to the fact that he’s lived an interesting life, and he’s not completely got things ironed out,” McCandless said. “When he messes up, he apologizes. A simple apology goes so far. That doesn’t fix everything, but it shows that you man up, it shows you want to do better and you’re going to do better.
“I support him in so many ways.”
Similar to Trump, McCandless says he isn’t a career politician like Hatch or Romney and says he will deliver on his promise to bring “Utah’s values and principles” to Washington, D.C., if elected.
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