Among the many candidates in Kansas running for Senate in 2020, Brian Matlock sticks out by identifying himself as a Republican-Socialist.
Matlock is a Nampa, Idaho, native and a Ph.D candidate, that majored in economics while attending the University of Missouri-Kansas City.
He says he grew up in small a religious community with Republican values and exceedingly charitable ethics, describing the overall mindset as a, “let’s pitch in, take care of our neighbors, open your home to others,” type of attitude.
His original intentions were to become a minister and continue to work with inner-city churches, but over time he came interested in international development and began to work more in non-profits, homeless shelters, and community-based mental health.
With an emphasis on social problems, Matlock believes most politicians in the past 40 years have not been wanting to address the high prices of healthcare, housing, and education while people are made to continue to work for flat-rate wages to support themselves.
“It seems like we keep running between some status quo centrist versus someone who wants to scapegoat immigrants or something without dealing with any of the root problems,” Matlock said during a visit to Dodge City Wednesday.
One of Matlock’s focuses, is on what a central economic policy could do for unemployment, describing his layout as a locally administered federal job guarantee.
Making note of how long jobseekers can go without finding meaningful work and how often they are either labeled as "lazy," Matlock believes that with a discretionary budget, a local administration with more decision power could decide how and where they want to put people so they can contribute to employment efforts.
Matlock is a supporter of Medicare for all, believing that markets are poorly designed to work with healthcare, because it’s not easy for policies to compete even in towns with more than one healthcare provider.
“You’re sort of a captive audience, the bidding down mechanism doesn’t work, all the intellectual property rights are very in favor of big pharmaceutical companies,” he said.
Matlock contributes private insurance companies and their incentive to deny as much coverage as possible to the problem and that getting rid of them and scaling down the billing department in hospitals, will lower healthcare, decrease the stress of where and how to obtain it, and will encourage people of all kinds to participate in a broad economical diversity.
“We have a lot of hardliners on immigration running,” Matlock said of some of his fellow candidates and expresses that this betrays the values he grew up with where the U.S. has a place for everyone.
Matlock's practical solution is to make Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), more available and renewing it easier, while getting rid of excess fees and making unlawful immigration a civil offense, instead of a criminal offense.
“Another major problem we have in this country, we’ve locked more people up than any other society in history and we need to quit addressing our problems by criminalizing everything and locking people up,” he said.
Regarding agriculture, Matlock feels recent deals and subsidies, haven’t truly benefited small family-owned farms as akin to bigger cooperatives and attributes that to the decline in rural communities, saying that finding new ways to support small sustainable agriculture while giving farmers more say in their operation will make them more risk-free from corporate monopolies, while retaining most of the profits made off their own commodities.
Identifying as a Republican-Socialist, Matlock said is partly to challenge people’s assumptions, saying that they have a lot in common.
“How I define socialism, is an economy built on that we take care of each other, we meet each other’s needs, rather than each person totally for their own private self-interest,” he said.
He defines his intentions as a coalition between good-neighbor Republicans and commonsense socialists.
He remarks that while there are several things wrong with mainstream socialism and their mixed assumptions regarding the federal government, that Kansas does have a socialist history.
Mentioning how in years past, local homesteaders had formed cooperatives to fight against price fluctuation and how miners had organized to fight against exploitative mining companies.
Matlock states that relying on big government in place of relying on the free market controlled by big corporations is still problematic.
His ideals are in support of worker cooperatives and a local democracy, that while funded by the federal government, is managed by those cooperatives that run the workplace and it’s them that ultimately decide the priorities of where people are needed via the federal job guarantee.
Despite what Matlock feels are still Republican standpoints and values, his campaign manager Dustin Hare, says that Republicans are trying to shut Matlock out from the State Convention this weekend in Olathe.
To learn more about Matlock’s Senate run, visit www.matlockforsenate.com.