On a noisy Thursday morning, members of the Occasional Planet team met with Robert Hazel. Hazel is running for Representative in Missouri’s 2nd Congressional district, and he does not have high expectations for the outcome of the race. He says, “…in the unlikely event that I get the Democratic nomination, I’m going to demand a recount, because something’s terribly, terribly wrong.”
Although Hazel does not have high hopes for winning, he feels that it is important to stay in the race. He says his viewpoint as an “old fashioned, new deal Democrat” is one that needs to be heard and that he has supporters who agree. Hazel argues that the Democratic party needs to be the party for everyone who wants to be a Democrat, and that “… everyone who doesn’t like what’s going on has to vote for the Democrats no matter who they are.” By running, he feels he is promoting the idea that there is room within the party for all levels of left-leaners. “Vote blue, no matter who, all the way through,” seems to be a slogan close to his heart, especially when speaking about this race.
Hazel’s background is in the nonprofit sector, organizational management, and resource development. He touts a 40-year career in these areas. He also worked in the Peace Corps and was stationed in Korea. “… I was in the Peace Corps in Korea and volunteered to get out of doing my daily job to man a table for the Korean Lung Association… But that made me realize that volunteerism… this was something that I wanted to do.” Clearly, he still feels a pull toward public service, despite the challenges he faces in his everyday life.
Unfortunately, Hazel has stage 4 esophageal cancer. He says he is managing it well, and that he feels strong. Despite this, he argues that the current climate renders it impossible for him not to run.
“…It was the Charlatan in Chief. We elected a deep cover sleeper agent of the former Soviet Union, with a question mark, or at least their dupe or stooge, as President of the United States, and that was like, ‘That’s it. That’s it for me.’ I’ve long since been wary or convinced that we have reached the end of the road with what conservatism as a political philosophy can do for us in any kind of positive manner.”
He has been disappointed by every president to come out of his generation, and is ready for some positive change.
On the issues, Hazel is progressive. Two of the issues he puts at the top of the docket are Medicare-for-All and abortion. He also mentioned the need for a massive infrastructure overhaul.
“It’s certain basic services. That idea, that everyone gets certain basic services, and if you want more than that, you have to pay for it. If you can’t pay for it, maybe somebody will help you with that or otherwise, it’s too bad.”
Hazel calls himself a “recovering Methodist.” He says that the state should not meddle in the affairs of women.
“…‘I’m not in favor of abortion. I don’t think anyone’s in favor of abortion, but somebody has to decide, and I don’t think that’s the state’s responsibility.’ It’s interesting, Republicans want to have freedom except for when it comes to that. Somebody has to decide, and it oughtn’t be me.”
He feels that time and time again the GOP has let down the average person with their votes against healthcare, and votes to restrict abortion
Hazel is also fed up about taxes.
“First of all, clean up all the crap that’s going on about our tax system…My wife is in sales. She can now write off an awful lot of things… But I think we need to have some sort of system to where, no, you can’t write off the amount, you can only write off up to a certain amount.”
He also feels that there should be a “citizen’s tithe” which would be similar to a flat tax based on adjusted gross income where there are no deductions, but subsidies exist.
Overall, Hazel is a solid candidate. He has qualifications and a love of public service. Truly, he seems like a man with nothing to lose by running. He has no obligations to any PACs or establishment organizations and is not tied down by anyone. He has no connections to any big money and has not even had to file with the FEC. If you want a candidate who is unwavering in his beliefs, committed to service, and listens to his constituents, Robert Hazel is your man.