Elan Carr Challenges Hollywood
Since Henry Waxman (D-CA) announced his retirement many wondered who would be elected in his place. Those Republicans living in Waxman’s district thought that a candidate like Elan Carr could be the Scott Brown of the 2014 election and possibly pull off an upset victory. On the outside his credentials look impeccable. However, after interviewing him it became apparent to American Thinker that while he is a very strong advocate regarding foreign affairs; regarding some domestic issues, he is divergent from the Republican core values.
There are questions that Republicans living in a very liberal district like the 33rd Congressional district in California must ask. First, what kind of candidate would they be willing to support? Second, should they vote for a candidate that does not support all the core issues? Finally, a Republican candidate has to ask, would a Democrat vote for a Republican instead of someone true to their own party?
These are questions that this author struggled with as the interview progressed with Carr, especially in light of the waords of Rudy Giuliani: "There are many qualities that make a great leader. But having strong beliefs, being able to stick with them through popular and unpopular times, is the most important characteristic of a great leader." Below is the interview with Elan Carr, the Republican candidate for Waxman’s seat.
American Thinker: Can you talk a little about your background?
Elan Carr: I joined the Army reserves a few months before the terrorist attacks of 9/11. I was deployed to Iraq to be part of an anti-terrorism team that attempted to stop terrorist attacks before they occurred. It helped that I speak Iraqi Arabic. I wrote classified reports that were about keeping Americans safe. My second assignment was to prosecute terrorists who had attacked and injured Americans. I prosecuted these Iraqi insurgent nationals in an Iraqi court. I am still in the reserves with a rank of Major. After returning to Los Angeles I joined the L.A. County District Attorney’s Office as a felony prosecutor of gang members. I am still dealing with terrorists but now I prosecute those who terrorize domestically our community and our streets. I also spend a great deal of time volunteering as International President of the Jewish college fraternity AEPi. I think it is important because these students are the future of our country. I want to mentor, help, empower, and direct these amazing young men.
AT: Why are you running for Congress?
EC: As my past duties show, I enjoy helping people and want to keep them safe. I want to hold those accountable who would hurt other people in our society. I am concerned about our foreign policy, the economy, the national debt, and our educational system.
AT: Since many in this district will see the “R” by your name, do you really think they will consider you as a candidate?
EC: The district and the climate are changing. The voter turnout will not be as high as a presidential election. It becomes a lot less lopsided against a Republican running. The sixth year of any presidency has the electorate tending to break decidedly against the president’s party. It is called the Six Year Itch. Because the president’s poll numbers are quite low and voters are worried about the economy, jobs, the national debt, and education, I think I have a good chance. Also, Jews in the district are concerned about our policies toward Iran and Israel.
AT: Lets talk about where you stand on the issues. Illegal Immigration?
EC: I am the son of immigrants who came to this country to pursue the American dream, seeing it as a beacon of opportunity and prosperity. My mother and her family are refugees from Iraq. As a child of immigrants I saw first hand how they helped to make this country great. I believe we need to make our communities friendly for immigrants. We need to treasure those immigrants who are law-abiding citizens. For those undocumented residents in California who live law-abiding lives and are hard workers that contribute to our country, I think there should be a path to citizenship.
AT: How can you say they are law abiding when they broke the rule of law by coming to this country illegally?
EC: You are correct. I should have been more precise by saying ‘otherwise law abiding.’ However they came here, they are now following the law, not hurting people, not breaking the law, and have good family values. Let me give you some examples. A good friend of mine, who served in the army with me, has parents who are undocumented migrant farm workers. When he turned eighteen his parents brought him to a recruiting station and had him sign up. We cannot fail to acknowledge that some of these people are here for the best motivations, love America, and are working hard to pursue the American dream. Are you going to ignore how long they have been here, what they are doing, or to have a sane, balanced approach in dealing with them? On the other hand, those I would not support are the illegal immigrants who have done terrible things. I have just prosecuted a young man for violence on police officers. That defendant has been deported six times. Public safety is not a Republican issue but an American issue.
AT: You said your parents were legal immigrants. In our state illegal immigrants are allowed to go to college, get a driver's license, even practice law. Would immigrants like your parents appreciate going to the back of the line for those who came here illegally?
EC: I never said nor would I suggest those who came here legally would be at the back of the line. Immigrants who are here with documentation and are hard working are going to continue to be here. Our community should be friendly to all immigrants and to treasure them. Those are my parents. However, having failed to secure our borders we now have a number of undocumented immigrants who are otherwise law abiding good people who came here to pursue the American dream. I think we need to recognize that and deal with it in a way that is humane and sensible. That is what I stand for in this election. I think Republicans by large will acknowledge that the immigration system we have is broken and needs to be fixed in a global and comprehensive way. I think my message will resonate with all voters in L.A.
AT: Do you think the border is secure?
EC: This is a problem of our own making. This is crazy. For years we have had open, porous borders which is a disgrace. It exposes not only the crime problems, but also the potential terrorist attacks. We maintain open borders so we bear some responsibility for allowing those poor people into our country. Right now we are endangered from both gang members and terrorists who can cross our borders.
AT: What about young Americans that have had jobs, college spots, etc. taken away from them by those here illegally?
EC: The focus should not be the finite number of jobs being taken away by undocumented workers. The focus should be why aren’t there more jobs? Why aren’t there more economic opportunities? The answer is the failed economic policies that are not growing the economy and jobs. It does not matter if someone is an immigrant or is born here. This issue concerns every sector of our community. I intend to focus militantly in Washington on how to improve those economic opportunities. At the end of the day there is no substitute for a robust and growing private sector. Americans are overtaxed and overregulated. We need to become a dramatically friendly place to business. Last year Bobby Jindal, the governor of Louisiana, told me how delighted he was that Hollywood was flocking to his state to shoot pictures. How much more evidence do you need that California is driving business away. It’s all about jobs.
AT: Don’t you think Hollywood is leaving because of the unions?
EC: Some unions have done really good and healthy things. What we need to do is focus on growing businesses and jobs. It’s not about attacking any one sector or saying we can’t be pro labor. It’s not about that, but is about a regulatory tax structure that should be promoting growth.
AT: Do you think there is a need for a healthcare reform alternative to ObamaCare? Would you repeal ObamaCare?
EC: No. I think we need to be fixing it so it will work for all Americans. I will take a back seat to none in my enthusiasm for reforming health care so it works for all Americans.
AT: Did I hear you right, you would not repeal ObamaCare?
EC: I already answered it. ObamaCare is currently not working and we need to fix it. One of the reasons I am such a strong candidate in this race is because my wife is a doctor. She practices medicine here in L.A. She is a small business owner who pays rent and has created jobs. She sees every day how the health system is not working for all Americans. She has patients coming to her complaining that their primary physician had dropped insurance and has only a cash practice. My wife told me “I did not go to medical school to treat only rich people. I want to treat all in the community. But pretty soon I will not be able to afford to keep up my practice.” I believe all Americans should be able to choose the doctors they want and to make our health care system work.
AT: Do you support what the Israel defense minister has said about this administration?
EC: We need to stand with our friends. Israel and the U.S. should be best friends. Any criticism and pressure on Israel is wrong. The role of America in the negotiations should be to support and back Israel publicly. If there are to be any disagreements it should be discussed privately.
AT: If you were in Congress today would you support the sanctions bill against Iran?
EC: Yes. I would unequivocally vote to give the president authority to impose additional sanctions without the need for any additional legislation. Rolling back sanctions on Iran is a big mistake unless there is a comprehensive deal that includes the complete end of its nuclear weapons desire and its proxy war in the Middle East that have taken the lives of my colleagues in uniform. We don’t want Iran moving closer to breakout capacity on its nuclear weapons program. Demonstrating weakness with Iran will only empower other countries to take advantage of us. Just look at the Russians annexation of the territory of another country. What Putin has done is unacceptable. We need to explore diplomatic and economic channels to make sure Russia understands the U.S. is not going to sit back and watch it return to an era we thought we had left behind.
AT: Do you think the military option should remain on the table?
EC: We are living in an ever more dangerous world. The only way we can protect ourselves here at home is to exercise leadership overseas. We need to be involved and engaged to meet rising threats around the world. That needs to happen immediately. The only way for diplomacy to work against foreign threats to our security is to back up the diplomatic process with a credible and real threat of military force. Then the diplomatic solution has a chance of working. These great threats include an unstable Egypt, local terrorism, a nuclear Iran, a civil war in Syria, an ascendant China, and a Russia that is evolving into a Soviet past.
AT: You said education is a real passion of yours. What do you propose?
EC: Local management is always the superior way to go that should include fixing broken schools and systems of accountability for teachers. Federal money should be given to local communities so they can decide how to implement the goals. The illiteracy rate is disgraceful so how can we talk about empowering children. We need them to understand history, who they are, and where America fits into the world.
AT: Do you support the 2nd Amendment?
EC: I believe in waiting periods for background and mental health checks, registration and training requirements. As a military and law enforcement officer I have been around guns and weapons a great deal.
AT: What do you see as the role of government?
EC: Government needs to be efficient. The services should be to protect the public’s safety both here and abroad, create an environment friendly to business, invest in the future, and take care of those who cannot take care of themselves.
AT: Do you think social issues should be left up to the states?
EC: Regarding abortion, I can appreciate women thinking it an invasion of their privacy for government to tell them what they can and cannot do with their own bodies. Abortion is a settled law. Regarding same sex couples they should receive all rights of a heterosexual couple. I think government has no business telling people who they should fall in love with, who they should have relationships with, and should not be forcing clergy like rabbis and priests to marry someone if it is against their religious beliefs.
AT: Do you think you will get Republican support in this district?
EC: I am not a traditional Republican, although I have been a Republican since childhood. I am someone who will reach across the aisle, and thinks broadly on issues. I think people are very dissatisfied with the lack of movement in Washington. I share with those in this district who are frustrated with Washington. I think to get things done we have to come together with Democrats. Part of the problem in America today, and Congress is a symptom of that, is how we tear ourselves to pieces, the tragic unwillingness to recognize the virtues of those with whom we differ. Americans need to focus on coming together, compromise, and moving the country forward. I have a bipartisan marriage since my wife is a lifelong Democrat. This campaign must be about the future to make our country better.
The author writes for American Thinker. She has done book reviews, author interviews, and has written a number of national security, political, and foreign policy articles.