Interview with American Party of South Carolina Presidential Nominee, Dr. Peter Alan Skewes

akjujue9Peter Alan Skewes received his a Ph.D. in Animal Physiology from Virginia Tech and has been a faculty member at Clemson University 31 years. He serves on the editorial board of the scholarly journal Poultry Science. The American Party of South Carolina nominated Skewes for President in May.

In 2014, its first year of operation, the American Party of South Carolina’s candidates received more than 153,000 votes, making it the third most popular political party in the state. To qualify for ballot access this year, the American Party needed to collect 10,000 signatures from registered voters and it secured 16,000 signatures.

The American Party is not affiliated with any other political party.

[Note: Dr. Skewes did not reply to two questions: “The American Party wants a “simplified tax code.” Would you explain that?” and, “The American Party platform advocates eliminating Super PACs and the establishment of term limits – and it wants to abolish the Electoral College. What is your thinking on these issues? Do you support public financing of elections?”]

Peter B. Gemma: Thanks very much for talking the time for this interview. What is your political background – have you been involved in politics and campaigning before?

Peter Skewes: Never – the only political connection was voting!

Gemma: On its website, the American Party says believes in “governing from the center.” Let’s run through some hot button issues and see what that means. First, how do you view the illegal immigration issue?

Skewes: It is only an issue because the federal government has not followed the existing law – “No employer shall employ people who are not U.S. citizens.” My solution to the 13 million undocumented workers is to hold the employer responsible. First, increase the fines substantially – currently it is $375 per worker – and second gives the employer a choice, either pay the fine or help the worker achieve citizenship within one year.

Gemma: What are your thoughts on U.S.-Middle East policies and the threat of terrorism?

Skewes: We have 16 federal agencies that are responsible for “intelligence”, and yet we suffered a 9-11 event. Our system is broken and not reliable. The more we interfere with Middle East culture, the more the Middle East will resent the U.S. and the radicals will respond.

Gemma: What about trade issues – what is your position on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, NAFTA, and other free trade pacts? The American Party platform promises to, “increase US exports and decrease US imports.” How would you get that done?

Skewes: There are some good points to the agreements like greater potential for exports, holding other countries to environmental, worker safety, and patent standards. There are also some concerns like loss of jobs to other countries. A well-designed international trade agreement could be great for the U.S. I am not confident that NAFTA of TPP is well written.

Gemma: You’ve stated that you would, “transition the Department of Defense from a tactical approach to a strategic approach.” What does that mean?

Skewes: Historically, we fought conventional wars on the battlefield. Today, we face a very different threat, one that is not about how many tanks or ground forces that can be committed, but who is smarter. The challenge today is how do we achieve superiority intellectually rather than by physical force. With all the U.S. resources, we should have the smartest, rather than the strongest defense system in the World.

Gemma: You have also said that, “Most social issues are important but they’re not going to make or break our country.” What is your stand on abortion and same-sex marriage?

Skewes: The media and the political candidates strive to focus on divisive issues to generate conflict. There is no reason for media coverage if conflict is not present. The importance of issues like LGBT, abortion, gun ownership, and immigration are very small in our country. Regardless of the U.S position on any of these issues, our country will neither prosper nor fail.

Gemma: You propose raising the cigarette tax for public health reasons and by doing it would provide additional revenue for the state budget. However, even as the state starts spending these tax dollars, the gross income would diminish as the tax on tobacco policy becomes successful. Wouldn’t that mean a tax increase in other areas to offset the loss of income?

Skewes: The offset would come from lower payments to smokers’ health care from Medicare and Medicaid. You must look at the whole picture, not just one small part.

Gemma: Recently, the federal government scrapped plans to allow oil and natural gas drilling off the South Carolina. More than 20 communities along the South Carolina coast have said they don’t want offshore drilling. What is your take?

Skewes: I actually suggested wind or wave technology off the coast as a compromise. We all must make a commitment to energy independence, but it does not mean that natural gas drilling is the only answer.

Gemma: The American Party calls for, “an increase in the gap between working wages and government benefits.” How would that work?

Skewes: If we do not increase the wage gap between government benefits and a full time job, people will select the easier route – don’t work. If you know anything about the “welfare/food stamp system,” it is not very successful at moving people from dependence to independence. The objective must be to transition people from the very important “safety net” that the government can provide, to a long-term solution based on employment.

Gemma: You campaign on the idea to, “improve the efficiency of the nation’s educational system to match it to industry needs.” Tell me more about that position.

Skewes: We seem to think that more education results in a better country. To a point, that is true. But, thinking that a college education is the cure all / end all solution is without merit. To grow the productivity of the U.S., we need very technologically competent citizens. We cannot rely on liberal arts majors to provide the needed technological competency to move our country forward. At some point, we need to assess the cost of the education against the value of its return to the greater good.

Going to college is a nice idea, but if it does not move the country forward, it should be at the discretion of the individual, not the federal government.

Gemma: Tell me about your running mate, Michael Lacy.

Skewes: Mike is a dear friend from my graduate student days at Virginia Tech. He is as solid and trustworthy as anyone I have ever met. I would trust him with my or any member of my family’s life.

Gemma: Are there plans to affiliate with any other third parties or to establish an American party outside South Carolina?

Skewes: Longer term goals are to establish the American Party in other states. Unfortunately, the mostly unconstitutional ballot access laws in most states make this very difficult. We discussed agreements with other third parties, but most other third parties have very narrow agendas that would not resonate well with the majority of U.S. voters. I believe that the American Party “platform” would be well received by most voters.

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