The Detailed Platform

Doug Bugie, Democratic Candidate US Congress Ohio District 7

Bridge to the center

We need to end this Cold Civil War. The Center is Rising. It will be Heard.

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Over 30 years ago, I ran for Congress in Cleveland as a Democrat. I am running again as a Democrat, but with independent thinking, to challenge Max Miller, a Republican endorsed by former President Trump. Democrats, Independents, and yes, many Republicans will come to the Center and combine to win the general election. Most Americans know we must find common ground, stop the gridlock, and solve the awesome challenges we face. Many of these challenges are the same as when I ran 30 years ago – only now far worse.

This seat came open because Anthony Gonzales/R, who rightly deserved high admiration, decided not to run again. I was saddened and angered that there were threats to his family. The essential question is which candidate in the Democratic primary on March 19 can go on to win this seat.

The Republican Party is much different than when I joined about twenty years ago; it is driven by the right, but there are many centrists and moderates and many admirable people.  Most Republicans are no more elitist, racist, or favor only the rich any more than the Democrats are socialists, saying that the government has all the answers. That’s where we get into caricatures, tribalism, and deadlock.

We need energy givers, not energy takers! We must rise above this division, animosity, and gridlock. What kind of America do we want? A “Shining City on a Hill” or an angry, dysfunctional "Tower of Babel"’? This election is an inflection point in American history. With the bridge-building I’ve been doing all my life, I’ll be on the side of motivating Americans to the sunny uplands and not pay attention to the darker angels always among us.

Trump thrives on dividing us, and he is obviously very good at it, but we need to move on. Max Miller is part of the inner Trump circle. In the end, re-electing Miller strengthens Trump and the right wing. No amount of Max tacking to the center will change that.

(I believe, at the outset, it is important to go on the record paying respect to Max Miller’s service as a Marine and his family’s local involvement. Max’s father-in-law Bernie Moreno, a Republican candidate for Senate, has accomplished so much in business and contributed much to Greater Cleveland. Moreno immigrated to Cleveland at age 5, testimony to the positive impact of immigration.)  

How, in what has become a daily battlefield, can we stay on track and positive? One sure way is to follow the Great Unifier, Abe Lincoln.

Lincoln declared at his second inaugural, "With malice toward none, with charity for all" - to begin rebuilding the Union. Words do matter. Beliefs drive action. I intend to campaign and behave this way in Congress and in life.

In the primary and general, I’ll stand on life’s lessons applicable to building bridges and getting things done. Every major challenge we face is huge and has been with us for decades: gridlock in Congress, Trump’s divisiveness and legal issues, and the endless fighting that is making things much worse. Americans know this – the extremes have been running right over the Center.

Not this time, because they’ll have to run right through District 7, and the majority here and in America will say “enough.”  Let’s stop this, let’s get beyond this and build a better nation.

Standing Up.

I’m not in this to wave an angry fist at the sky as a protest candidate. This stems from years of activism gong all the back to Bay High School. My view is that politics and government can be a noble pursuit to do good. Even with Congress consistently below 20% approval ratings I still believe in it. I ran for Congress once, putting my career and life savings on the line then – and I am doing it again now.

It’s time to stand up and stop this division. Compromise isn’t a weakness. It takes strength to bring people together and hard-won compromise to solve problems. I will listen hard, lead, and put forth a positive vision for the district, region, and nation.

Baby boomers hold the key to winning this seat.

The Center wins if baby boomers like me reconnect with their early idealism and don't sit out this election. I hope, trust, and will work very hard to engage their parents, sons, and daughters, right through to their grandchildren, to cross the Bridge to the Center in District 7.

My journey has included what all entrepreneurs go through – success, exhilaration, rejection, starting alone, struggling, inevitable setbacks, and disappointments – all ingredients in real life necessary to rise to our challenges, persevere, win this election, and make the vision of this campaign a reality in Congress.


- Organized support for Cleveland Mayor Bibb, bringing together Democrats, Republicans, and Independents. I took some flak for this but shrugged it off because Cleveland needed a shot in the arm, and I believed Bibb could do it.

- Chaired a panel on legal immigration during the 2020 Republican National Convention in Cleveland with immigrants who together employ 5,000 people here. The panel included Bernie Moreno, who, from the ground up, became a very successful businessman and is a Republican candidate for Senate.

- Organized Democrats and Republicans to convince a major British company, Alexander Mann Solutions, to headquarter in Cleveland vs Raleigh, North Carolina. Mann hired hundreds here and 2,000 across America – and as a bonus, their leader and his family are becoming American citizens! This group included Governor Kasich, the U.S. Ambassador to Ireland, Ed Crawford, County Executive Chris Ronayne, and Jay Foran, second vice president of Team NEO. What a Team, working together with 100 Greater Clevelanders to get the job done together! There’s more domestic and foreign investment to come with my successful election.

Getting Things Done.

In working with Democrats and Republicans for 45 years, I have accumulated the kind of understanding to ‘cross the aisle’ to get things done. The truth is, I admire and genuinely like many Republicans, but I simply can’t run with the party; too much of it has moved too far to the right. There are still a lot of moderates, though, and this is a much larger group than people think. The Democratic Party can be a bigger church, more open-minded and diverse, but it still has a lot of work to do. I stand firmly with the party on reducing gun violence by stopping the manufacture of AR15s (I have been a gun owner since a teen) and supporting women’s right to choose. But there will be attempts to chip away at this, and we must be ready. On the latter two issues alone, I could not run as a Republican because the party has moved too far right on these crucial issues.

I have supported and, at times, voted for the following politicians, showing the breadth of my views and ability to find a compromise: Bush II/ R, Hart/D, Obama/D, JFK/RFK/D, Romney/R,  Kucinich/D, Springer/D, Fingerhut/D, Tubbs-Jones/D, Fisher/D, Zone/D, Hoke/R, Portman/R, Celeste/D, S. Brown/D, Feighan/D, Voinovich/R, Hagan/D, Clinton/D, Metzenbaum/D, Kasich/R, Reagan/R, Metzenbaum/D, Gore/D, Joyce/R, LaTourette/R, Cimperman/D, Coyne/R, L. Cheney/R, Patton/R, Bibb/D, Gibbons/R, Fisher/D, Joyce/R, J. (Jerry) Brown/D, Ronayne/D, John Anderson/I, and Joe Manchin, a ‘D’ who is more an Independent.

I support people for their deeds and character, which goes beyond politics or party. The reader may not know all the people below; it is a broad enough list that I’m betting most will know of some of their deeds. Again, the political spectrum is wide, but the unifying thread is wanting to make the world a better place. I have worked with many of them up close or at a near enough distance to see them in real action. This does not imply that they would all necessarily agree with my platform and endorse me. But here is a wide range of people I know, respect, and at least part of the time, agree with:

Dick Pogue, Stuart Muszynski, Brandon Chrostowski, Lindsey Smith, Jay Foran, Ryan Puente, Chief Calvin Williams, Alex Machaskee, Jerry Austin, Mary Catherine Barrett, Tom and Cindy Einhaus, John Shepherd, Roger Synenberg, Dick Clough, Jimmy Craciun, Tom Johnston, Ray Marvar, Rick DeChant, Fred Geis, Kathi Paroska, Jimmy Craciun, Terry Davis, Lucy and Lisa Stickan, Stephanie Morrison-Hrbek, Joy Roller, Jan Roller,  Mark Owens,  Stuart Muszynski, and the US Ambassador to Ireland, Ed Crawford.

I have great respect for Judges Fitzsimmons, Synenberg, Kennedy, Lambros, Barker, and Polster, and hold in the utmost esteem the late Bill Denihan, Arne De La Porte, Joe Jerome, Sam Krasney, and lifetime mentor Alan Schonberg.

I admire Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela, and most of all, I wish Colin Powell had run for President. Winston Churchill was the greatest leader of the 20th Century. And Abe Lincoln is the true north star whose values and words will help us heal America…again.

The Start. The Spark. The Journey.

As a 13-year-old, I’d take the 55C bus from my hometown, Bay Village, to Cleveland Public Square to “see the world” and sit for hours watching the street action. I was shocked to see so many poor, and it had a profound effect because I felt helpless to do anything about it.

But corny as it sounds, JFK’s words rang true even to a grade school kid and they do now - “Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.”

The first spark was my winning the Cleveland Rotary Club speech contest based on the 18-year-old right to vote during the Vietnam War, entitled “If You’re Old Enough to Fight, You’re Old Enough to Vote.” This led to presenting the Bay High School graduation address – about making a difference, giving back, and not just accumulating the ’good life’.

At Bowling Green State University, I was elected president of student government and put together a 16-strong, significantly diverse ticket before diversity was much talked about. We established one of the first rape crisis centers in America.

I wanted to see change and fought for it. That flame still burns brightly today, even some 50 years later. Can it be rekindled in District 7 and the nation? I’m betting yes.

America is not the mess that Trump and extremists on both sides and some media would have us believe, that divides us rather than unites us. In my early life until now, I’ve traveled tens of thousands of miles across America (and a couple of million around the world) by hitchhiking, Harley and Jeep. I have seen the greatness, fairness, kindness, and innate strength of the American people and how most of them get along.

Like many in the middle class, I have been working since I was under 13.

My family was decidedly middle class, nothing fancy. I grew up in Bay Village, now in District  7, working my way through college.

This is by no means a comprehensive job list: I washed dishes, painted houses, delivered phone books, pumped gas, repaired dams, built grain silos, cleaned parking lots, washed cars, delivered papers, worked hunger centers, delivered phone books, and moved furniture.  I was proud to serve Mass at St Raphael’s in Latin. …Just like so many of you, we earned our way through.

Mom had to use green stamps one year to send out Christmas cards, things were so tight. So we worked, we took nothing for granted but never felt life was unfair. Life in Bay Village was great but I wanted to see and do more in the USA and around the world. So after a Harley trip across the USA, returned to CLE to start a global job with Eaton Corporation at age 23, hitting 40 countries a year, starting a mere 47 years ago!  

Civic Activism is giving back. Now it is time to dig deeper and give even more by winning this seat.

I have served as an activist on the following boards of directors:

• Improving relations between the community and the Cleveland Police through The Cleveland Police Foundation.
• Bringing kids together from all walks of life on the stage by supporting Near West Theatre.
• Helping reduce bullying and violence in schools. 200,000 students have gone through this. Values in Action.
• Promoting legal immigration and supporting refugees through Global Cleveland.
• Providing housing and fulfilled lives for the mentally challenged through Our Lady of the Wayside.
• When in London, we were awarded best franchise in the United Kingdom by the British Franchise Association and awarded top Entrepreneur by Ernst & Young
• Served on the National Association for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

History and politics have shown the greatest leaders have forged great compromises and shown the courage to not follow the masses, but do the opposite, at times going above their parties:

• Lincoln and Grant: Backed the Reconstruction of the Union, and Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, which led to his assassination.
• Franklin D. Roosevelt: Social Security and the New Deal.
• Dwight D. Eisenhower: WWII leading general, warning about the Military Industrial Complex enveloping all else.
• Harry S. Truman: Stood down Gen. MacArthur's crossing the 58th parallel and drove back to Missouri with wife Bess after serving.
• John F. Kennedy: Challenged the USA to go to the moon and to “Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country,” which still rings true.
• Robert F. Kennedy: recognized Appalachia and brought it into the American consciousness.
• Lyndon B. Johnson: A Southerner getting the Voting Right Act passed in 1964.
• Richard M. Nixon: Anti-Communist who opened China. Signed off on the Environmental Protection Agency.
• Ronald Reagan: Anti-Communist who built a relationship with USSR leader Gorbachev, leading to the fall of the Berlin Wall. Also was the first to allow Dreamers to remain in the country.
• Jimmy Carter: Camp David Accords between Egypt and Israel.
• Jesse Jackson: Won the South Carolina and Michigan presidential primaries, opening a lot of eyes, including mine.
• Bill Clinton: Recognized it should be workfare for benefits vs open-ended welfare. Last President to balance the budget.
• George Bush I: Coined “A thousand points of light’ and was an early proponent of compassionate conservatism.
George Bush II: Teamed up with Senator Ted Kennedy to help pass ‘No Child Left Behind.’

My Platform and Positions—with an approach to listen, learn, and lead.

• I’m pro-choice.

It's a woman’s personal decision. It’s women’s right to choose. Women should control their own bodies. The belief as to when life begins is based on one’s religious beliefs, and the state should have no role in this most private of decisions.

We need to make it much easier to adopt and find good homes for unwanted children. It is far too difficult now.

In student government, I led the establishment of a Rape Crisis Center at BGSU, backed the Equal Rights Amendment, and backed equal pay for equal work. In my previous run for Congress in 1992, I marched in Washington for women’s rights and was the only candidate to do so.

The recent approval of Issue 1, allowing women’s right to choose, demonstrates that Democratic, Republican, and Independents went beyond politics to make their voices heard. This was a big moment and sent a message to America, not so much about the issue of choice, but about how people can be free-thinking, above party.

I want to make it clear that I do not demonize in the least those with whom I disagree on this most personal and difficult of decisions, and I deeply respect their views. As with all my positions, I won’t condemn those with whom I disagree. This is a hugely difficult, personal decision.

• Get real on stopping gun violence.
I have been a gun owner since my dad bought me a Daisy BB gun for Christmas and have passed the conceal and carry license test (which is no longer required in Ohio). I support the Second Amendment. But… why can’t owning a gun be like having a driver’s license? I supported the Brady Bill with Congressman Feighan in the ‘80s, mandating a seven-day waiting period to acquire a gun.

From 10,000 gun deaths per year in the 1980s, we’re now at 50,000 per year. Mass killings happen so often we’re dulled, but it is beyond horrible. Kids are being shot in classrooms, once unimaginable. AR-15-style rifles have gone from about 1.3% of all guns sold to 24%. Between 1990 and now, 24 million assault weapons have been produced, and the latest data available shows 2.8 million last year alone. It’s out of control. People know this goes above politics.

I am not talking about anyone taking anyone’s guns, period. But we must start somewhere, and stopping new manufacturing of these kinds of weapons is where it should start.

I’ll lead a huge push to get behind red flag laws—that is, turn people in, even if family, for aberrant behavior regarding weapons before it is too late.

• Business and Labor too, have no better friend.

For 30 of the past 40 years, I’ve been self-employed, starting hundreds of small recruitment businesses (some grew large) in the USA and over 40 countries. They went on to fill more than 100,000 jobs and become world leaders in the industry. Recruitment helps companies go from “good to great” and find people jobs where they can do the best work of their lives.

75% of the recruiters in my businesses, and there are hundreds, average age 33. It is mightily important to work with young people for them to believe that their future will indeed be better than their parents, a crucial ingredient for the collective American future. For the first time in American history, many young don’t believe they will have better lives than their parents, but it is clear to me they are thirsting for leadership on the core issues of our time, such as the environment and gun violence. I feel comfortable working with the young to help them discover their capabilities and bring their dreams to life – then standing back and getting out of the way.

As CEO of two multinational companies traded on the London and New York Stock Exchanges, I learned the ropes in finance, problem-solving, building diversity, and serving at the executive and board levels. One was a turnaround which took four years to fix.

Just the basics here:

A flat 15% tax is a good start for both individuals and corporations. Everyone pays, and no one gets away with lawyering taxes down to zero like major corporations can do. We should lower corporate taxes to incentivize foreign investment like Ireland’s 12%.

There can be no doubt Social Security is under threat, and it’s not that far down the road. No one wants to talk about solutions to prevent this from going bust. We‘ve got to get ahead of this curve for the sake of those who are grandkids now, but who will be dealt a severe and unfair blow if this fund runs dry.

I am pleased that wages have risen for the first time in many years. But the gap between executive pay and the average worker has widened to the largest in the world.

• The War in Israel

I lived in London during many bombings through to the time that the IRA stopped bombing and buried their weapons. Inspired, committed leadership from all sides led to peace.

Peace is hard, but it can be achieved. We must remember—as Sting’s song goes, “Russian Mothers have Children Too,” as do Israeli, Ukrainian, and Palestinian mothers.

Let’s not give up on peace, as difficult as it is to imagine now, even in the face of the atrocities brought on by Hamas, not the Palestinians, in Gaza.

My heart breaks for Israel, it breaks for innocent Palestinian civilians. We must back Israel to finish Hamas, then rebuild the region on the level of a Marshall Plan with an eventual two-state solution – with security for Israelis and Palestinians.

We can’t harden our hearts to the death and injury of innocents on both sides, we must accept that this is a war that Hamas started with ghastly atrocities and that they continue to use Palestinians and the hostages as a gigantic, embedded human shield. Israel is fighting for its very existence.

As a footnote, I have worked extensively in 40 countries, many times with Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindi, Buddhists, and others whom I count as friends and colleagues. I studied comparative religions at university and am truly a ‘big church’ kind of person. Let’s not succumb to this ‘war of civilizations’. This would be a road to ruin for the world.

• The War in Ukraine

So, too, do I support finding a pathway to peace between Russia and Ukraine. There is a real probability this could go nuclear, and I don't advocate backing down, I am advocating to find a way to settle, even given that Russia took Ukraine’s land. Hundreds of thousands have died on both sides. Yes, Putin’s arms are linked with our sworn enemies, but NATO has been encircling Russia for years, forcing them ever more into a corner. I believe more far-sighted leadership could have prevented this.

With 40 years of experience working in more than 40 countries, including China and Russia, and living in London for more than 10 years, I have more experience in dealing with people around the world at a higher level than most members of Congress.

• Get Immigration Under Control… But Amp Up Legal Immigration

Contain the southern border entirely and swiftly, using all means necessary, but humanely. There should be legal immigration only. Use the National Guard plus technology to make this work.

I realize that many, if not all, illegal immigrants are escaping hell, but we should provide aid while ensuring that their native countries step up their aid. I agree with Trump and the Republicans and many Democrats and Independents on this. It’s unbelievable that we are where we are, and we have to make firm, clear decisions to stop illegal immigration until we get it under control.

Immigration is the bedrock and lifeblood of our greatest nation. Immigrants create one of every two jobs and lead 50% of Fortune 500 companies. Increase legal immigration to record levels. I supported immigration for many years and have served on the Global Cleveland board. We can increase legal immigration, perhaps by issuing visas for workers that are then tracked carefully. And make citizenship far easier and shorter to obtain – it now takes about 10 years for tens of thousands of legal immigrants to become citizens.

• Policing

There are many thousands of good apples for every bad apple. I back the police, not right or wrong, but salute what they do for us every day. Ranks are shrinking in Cleveland and across America, and police need help in recruiting. I applaud what Mayor Bibb is doing to turn this around. As a board member at the Cleveland Police Foundation, I witnessed up close the inner workings of the police department, including pay, working conditions, risks, duties, racial makeup, and most of all, the countless good acts for the communities they serve.

I also became aware of something we could bring back to both Cleveland and the surrounding areas, including District 7: Neighborhood policing defined as when police become a visible partner in the community vs. somehow, the enemy. This is where tax dollars can work. Kids no longer believe being in the police is an honor, which undermines public welfare and safety. The police are the thin blue line between security, crime, and disorder.

• New Marshall Plan for Cities.
We helped Europe and Asia after WWII, turning enemies into allies. In doing so, the world economy was lifted as never before, just as Lincoln and Grant led after the Civil War. We must do the same for our cities. We need this broad, far-reaching thinking and action in America and right here in CLE. As Cleveland goes, so goes the region. This is true nationwide. Cities are becoming islands of desperation, hopelessness, and poverty, particularly evidenced by rising gun crime and gun violence, even in high schools. Policing will end up looking like the movie Robocop if we don’t get a long-term handle on this.

• Stop Fentanyl and other drugs. Cold.

We need to end deadly harmful narcotics coming in, period. Use the military, land, sea, and air, the National Guard, plus technology. We can and must stop this. China and Mexico must join forces with us, or severe consequences will occur in trade and relations. I am convinced the Chinese use this strategically to wear us down.

We need to make trafficking in hard drugs really hurt – one strike, you’re out, not three, for drug dealers and traffickers. Life sentence, no parole, with solitary confinement.

• No more homeless veterans –none.

We need to find them all and help them. They have the highest rate of suicide and homelessness in America. It’s a disgrace, and we must stop with cliches and take concerted action here and throughout the nation. It’s a disgrace.

• Campaign contributions: Stop unlimited money.

We need to end unlimited dark money, period. The rich are funding a plutocracy vs. a democracy. Jefferson wanted to see normal people enter government, serve their country, and leave. I agree. What percentage of Congress receiving such money are millionaires or lawyers? Too many!

• Back programs like the Edwins Institute and Values in Action so they can go national, faster.

The Edwins Institute, founded and led by Brandon Chrostowski, has been excellent in reducing recidivism. Hundreds of people have gone through Edwins' and are in high demand by other restaurants. When we see a program like this, get behind it.

Values in Action, founded and led by Stuart Muszynski, promotes kindness in schools, and is proven to reduce violence and increase graduation rates.

Ramp up programs like these! Let’s get above politics.

• Make it a norm and exciting for youth to give back to society, incentivized with funds for college or tech schools.

We need to make significant investments toward growing AmeriCorps and the Peace Corps. It would be so beneficial for society, even the world, and for the young adults themselves, to make this a way of life, just “how it is.” Young adults can serve in cities, the countryside/small towns, support older people, people with low incomes, the hungry, and schools and veterans.

And while we’re at it, revitalize President Kennedy’s Council on Physical Fitness.

• Regulate social media.

We need to shut down TikTok if it is Chinese spying. Make META (Facebook) establish a large program (thousands of employees) to combat hacking, ID theft, tracking and bullying or face big fines; prosecute individual executives.

• Climate change is existential. But – energy independence and aggressive green measures can coexist.

Both can be accomplished. We’ve got to stop making it an either/or issue. Energy independence is a must. It is a matter of national security. It will come from fossil fuels for the next period in history, but we must push relentlessly for clean energy, and we need to be serious – the earth is burning up. People may disagree about the rate, but in “earth time,” 100 years is an eye blink. Where will we be in 500 years (five eye blinks) if we don’t get this under control? Earth and nature will win. Humanity may not.

In conclusion:

We must save the Union. We must get together, stand up, and speak up. Lincoln said in Cleveland on his way to Washington that he would have supported Steven A. Douglas if Douglas had won the election, as he would have expected Douglas to do (and Douglas did). Compare that to how politics is conducted today.

We’ve got to get past the Trump era, and Max Miller is part of that by definition. We need to find solutions and get above party politics as past great American leaders have done. Think about what you read and see in Trump’s behavior, undermining institutional confidence, including elections, at every turn. Max Miller is endorsed by Trump, he is part of what Trump is. We need uniters, not dividers.

We need energy givers, not energy takers.

When we stand before the electorate, compare the life work of Max Miller and me. Through my candidacy and election, the Center will rise together. We will be greater than “a thousand points of light” – millions across the nation. I still believe in Teddy Roosevelt fighting it out in the arena and Margaret Mead saying that a few committed people can change the world.

I’m real. I’m ready. I get things done. Let’s roll!