Democratic incumbent U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley has been a longtime ally of the LGBTQ community, and is vice chair of the LGBT Equality Caucus and a founding member of the Transgender Equality Task Force.
In a recent interview with Quigley, he talked about the recent impeachment trial, his own fight for re-election and LGBTQ issues.
Windy City Times: Regarding the impeachment trial, do you feel there was anything the U.S. House could've done differently, like with procuring witnesses, in order to change the end game?
Mike Quigley: The short answer is "no." What I tell people is that the Constitution wasn't built for a president like this, who is outside the norm. We'll have to change things in the next term, when he's not in the Oval Office.
I heard someone say we're shutting the government down. First, shutting the government down? Never, in our lifetime. It's not an effective tool to leverage anything, and it costs the economy billions of dollars.
I was one of the first members of Congress who was briefed on what the Russians did. I was part of the House investigation into what Russia did and the president's conspiracy. So I saw everything firsthand, and I wish I had a better answer. People are angry and I get itbut, sadly, no. But this fight continuesand, by the way, we proved our case. Mitt Romney was the only [Republican] with enough guts [to vote against President Trump]. This was less a weakness on our part, and more about this historic abdication of constitutional responsibility by the Republicans.
WCT: Interestingly, when Joe Walsh stopped running in the Republican primary, he said it's Trump party, and likened the GOP to "a cult."
MQ: Well, it is; they're all afraid of him. I've heard someone say, "Quit whispering." Like Paul Ryanhe waited until he left office to say what he said about Trump. When the country needs you, even [Barry] Goldwater told [President Richard] Nixon, "It's time to go." There were Republicans in the past who had the courage of their convictions. Some things are more important than maintaining your power.
But we'll continue to investigate. At the very least, the public has a right to integrity and to know what the president has done.
WCT: If you could ask the president and have him tell the absolute truth, what would that question be?
MQ: [Pauses] I think it goes back to the full extent of his entanglements with [Russia President Vladimir] Putin and Russia. [Paul] Manafort gets indicted for laundering money there. Deustche Bank was the only financial institution that would finance this president in the last 10 years, and the bank was fined more than $600 million. So everything spins from thatelection security, the integrity of his election and the change of power that resulted from this.
WCT: Your opponent, Brian Burns, has said that you should be tougher on Trump.
MQ: Besides the chair of the Intelligence Committee, I've done just as much as anyone else, except Adam Schiff. I've been effective and very tough going after this president. The manner I've done it is appealing to those who are undecided, so I'm educating and informing the base. It's almost Nixon-like of my opponent to say [something like that].
Also, he's had his own problems, with social media. [It was recently reported that Burns, in 2011, called a women a "cyberdyke" in one of his tweets.] I don't think there's anything wrong with running for office when you're young, if you've earned it. Has he been in a [Pride] parade? I've been in every one since 1983. Is he in the Chicago LGBTQ Hall of Fame, like I am? Has he passed legislation on the county level and formed the Trans Caucus in Congress? I know he hasn't been around as long as I have, but there's nothing there. I've been in thousands of community meetings and I haven't seen him at one, so there's a body of work that shows I'm beyond talking about things. You can disagree with my policies, but you can't say I haven't been tough on the president.
WCT: There are different types of Democrats, of course, such as progressive and moderate. How do you distinguish yourself?
MQ: Here's what it taught me to work for an alderman in Lake View [then-44th Ward Ald. Bernie Hansen], representing Halsted Street: The policy has to work, but being pragmatic and effective can be coupled with being aspirational. So I'm basically saying I'm liberalbut that term isn't really used anymore. Liberal, progressive, what have you… I'm a pragmatic progressive who gets things done.
For those who don't stand in the middle, finedon't stand in the middle. But don't be afraid to compromise. That's how the ACA happened. We have a divided government, so we have to compromise. Otherwise, we're just messengers. At some point, you've got to stop being just an advocate.
WCT: What do you think is the biggest problem for the LGBTQ community?
MQ: Backsliding, the cult of personality that this president enjoys, that it's okay to hate… It leaves many communities behindand I think it'll get worse. This president is anti-equality; he's anti-immigrant. I think that affects all of us. Inequality anywhere is inequality everywhere. If he gets four more years in office, he'll be emboldened to do far worse than he's doing now.
WCT: So if you're re-elected, how would you deal with that?
MQ: I have an election to deal with, but it's my job to be an appropriator and to hold this president accountable as a member of Congress. Number two, get re-elected. Number three, help everybody else in the House and Senate change things. People have to get engaged on local, state and national levels. So before I answer [your] question, I have these tasksand I remain optimistic.
WCT: Have you endorsed a presidential candidate?
MQ: I have not. I've been working 15 to 16 hours a daybut I look to make a decision sometime before our March primary.
See QuigleyForCongress.com .