By Lily Barnette, Ülvi Gitaliyev, and Suneil Avirneni
On November 8th, the people of Kentucky’s 6th Congressional District, which includes Lexington, Frankfort and Richmond are faced with two options for who to send to Congress. On the Republican side, there is Andy Barr, a pro-life and anti-immigration Republican who has been an incumbent for years. On the other hand, there is Geoff Young who believes in impeaching the six Supreme Court Justices who overturned Roe v. Wade and Medicare-for-all, but whose daily and unwavering support for Russia and its foreign policy has alienated many forces on the left. To decide which candidate was the better, The Berea Torch secured an interview with both candidates to speak with them directly.
Geoff Young agreed to do an interview with us on October 9th. The more we spoke to him, the clearer it became that his upbringing during the Cold War and Vietnam War greatly influenced his way of thinking. For his education, Young went to MIT, where he was lucky enough to have Noam Chomsky as one his professors and throughout the interview, it became clear that politically-active linguist had made a great impression on Young. For example, when asked about Joe Biden, Young said “He’s a war criminal like every U.S. president since 1945.” Which is a belief that comes directly from Noam Chomsky’s “If the Nuremberg Laws were Applied” speech, first made in 1990.
“The Republican Party has gone crazy. They’ve gone off the deep end. So, on June 24th of this year, we had the Dobbs v. Jackson decision, where six partisan Republican hacks on the U.S. Supreme Court, I think it’s incorrect to call them justices, overturned the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision just because they could… There was no constitutional basis or legal basis or any basis logical for overturning Roe v. Wade.”
Jeff Young went further and called out Amendment 2, the proposed amendment to the Kentucky constitution that would restrict abortion, “Amendment two in Kentucky is simply one big step toward making all abortions illegal in all 50 states with no exceptions.”
He had become very cynical of politics in general, stating “Politicians are expected to lie. At the national level, people seem to want to be lied to. The Republican voters or Democratic voters want to be lied to in different ways.” When asked what would make him different from other candidates, Young replied with:
“I’m going to tell people the truth. You may not like everything I say. I may be telling you bad news, but we’re facing total collapse as a as a economy, as a country and as a society, total collapse like the Soviet Union.”Jeff Young
It is rare to see a man so pessimistic and cynical actually win a primary and be on the ballot in an election. When talking about the leaders of other countries though, Young had a much more positive outlook:
“Russia and China have some of the best leaders in the world. Not just the individuals, Putin and Xi Jinping, but their whole leadership group. In sports terms, they’ve got a deep bench. And sports terms, we don’t have any. We barely have a team that can walk without limping.”
He denied that Russia was an imperialist power and instead argued that its invasion of Ukraine was actually legal under international law. Even when one of our writers, an international college student from Azerbaijan, pointed how Russian political meddling in his home country had exacerbated an ethnic conflict with Armenia, Young went only so far as to say “maybe that is the case.”
All in all, Geoff Young has some good domestic policies that would actually benefit the people of Kentucky, but he spent a big chunk of the interview on foreign policy issues, where his opinions are most divisive. Andy Barr himself was unavailable for an interview, his Director of Communications, Alex Bellizzi, answered some of our questions over the phone on October 20th. Many of his answers confirmed exactly why you should not vote for Andy Barr.
Almost every question we asked, whether it be about the Appalachian Region or college issues, came back to Joe Biden and the recent rise in inflation. Bellizzi claimed this year, families would have to spend “an additional $8,000” on average when compared to last year and that Joe Biden’s was at fault. While it is true that inflation has become a major issue, no concrete economic solutions were proposed.
When we mentioned Amendment 2, Bellizzi spoke at length about Barr’s support for the Hyde Amendment and his pro-life track record, but refused to specify whether his boss supported the amendment in question. To give some background, the Hyde Amendment “prohibits the expenditure for any abortion of funds authorized or appropriated by federal law” and “prohibits the use of federal funds for any health benefits coverage that includes abortion.” It is important to note that on his own website, Barr called the repeal of Roe v. Wade a “Historic Victory for Life.”
We asked Bellizzi what message he had for college students. He spoke about how candy laced with Fentanyl was coming through the “Southern Border” just in time for Halloween. No evidence was provided for this theory, let alone that this “candy” could reach as far as Kentucky. He also claimed that if Republicans get a majority of seats in Congress, Andy Barr would help “pass legislation that will force this administration to secure the border.”
Clearly, Andy Barr and his policies on both abortion and immigration are horrendous and if he has any concrete proven plans to reduce inflation, then he has not shared them yet. So, on both social and economic issues, he is doing a disservice to Kentucky and does not have his constituents interests at heart.
While neither Barr or Young are easy pills to swallow, we at The Berea Torch believe that Andy Barr’s regressive and punitive policies have a much higher chance becoming law, especially considering the Republican swing for this year’s midterms and so, would hurt more Americans not just in his district, but nationally. Geoff Young would be a lone fighter in Congress and could not affect much policy, so his impact would be not as damaging to the country.
Write-in candidate Randy Cravens, who has the support of more traditional members of the Democratic Party, did not respond for our requests for an interview.