J.D. Winteregg was born and raised in the Dayton, Ohio area, and currently lives in Troy. He earned a B.A. in International Business and French from Ohio Wesleyan University, an M.Ed. in Foreign Language Education from Wright State University, an M.A. in French from The Ohio State University, and he is currently working on earning a Ph.D. in Foreign and Second Language Education from Ohio State. Mr. Winteregg lived in France for a year working in a public high school as an English assistant. Afterwards, he lived and worked in Alabama doing door-to-door and retail sales. After about a year in Alabama, he returned to Ohio, where he has spent the rest of his time working at the high school and university levels as a teacher. He has also worked on developing language-learning curriculum. His wife Aimee is also a teacher, and they are both believers in Christ.
Robert Elliott: What made you decide to challenge the Speaker of the House in the GOP Primary next year?
J.D. Winteregg: During the Presidential election, I realized that the Establishment Republicans are way behind the Democrats when it comes to narrative construction and maintenance. To the Dems, this is the most important aspect of maintaining their power - so much so that President Obama, when asked what his greatest regret from his first term was, responded that it was that he didn't tell his story the way that he wanted. This is how important the narrative is to the Dems, and they expend great energy in constructing and maintaining it. Their mastery of narrative control was putting us on a path the average American didn't want. The Establishment Republicans just didn't (and still don't) get this.
Looking at the race from the framework of narrative construction and maintenance, I realized the Establishment Republicans did a poor job. Looking at my own representative, Speaker Boehner, I realized that he was attempting to play this game - and he was doing it poorly. His speeches were incredibly conservative, but his actions were not. From TARP to the debt ceiling increases, he was voting against our values. With this realization, I decided that I wanted to challenge him. I was very aware of what I was walking into, though. I knew I had to invest time in getting my name out there before I even had a chance at running. With that in mind, I have spent the past year working to get to know tea party/liberty leaders, working to inform people of the inconsistencies between what Speaker Boehner says and what he actually does, and helping people to understand a millennial perspective. During my time listening to the people in the district, I found that the average American already has a narrative that has yet to be articulated - we're living in an era in which we believe it's Us (the average American) vs. Them (the Establishment in D.C.). We believe this because it's true.
With this in mind, I came up with a platform that captured this narrative. The one thing that unifies nearly all Americans is a disdain for Congress, and I realized that nearly every American wanted to see the ruling class held accountable for creating a climate that has put an enormous rift between us and our representatives. I also realized the opportunity that would come with unseating Speaker Boehner - we'd have the chance to capture, articulate, and direct a nation-wide narrative. We needed to have a narrative that unified the majority of the American public, and with this message, we'd have the opportunity to affect real change. I knew that this race was not only winnable, but also powerful enough to enforce a new measure of accountability on Congress.
So why am I running? I'm running because I believe that our country is heading down an undesirable path, and I believe my ideas will help to bring it back to what our founders originally intended. I'm running because I am tired of seeing the division between us and our representatives, and I'm running because I believe it's time for my generation to have a voice at the Congressional level.
Robert Elliott: How do you intend on raising the funds necessary to successfully challenge such an entrenched and powerful incumbent?
J.D. Winteregg: I've got several different avenues in which I'll fund-raise for this endeavor. One way is through my door-to-door effort. I've got access to technology that will allow me to collect donations and necessary donor info at the door. Another way is through small-group meetings - somewhat modeled off of what Josh Mandel did - called friend-raisers. In these groups, I'll be able to speak to them about my platform, listen to how they want their voices represented in D.C., and collect donations and donor info. Finally, since this is somewhat of a national race (he is the Speaker, after all), I am also arranging to go out of state to speak with groups that have a vested interest in removing Speaker Boehner from office. My involvement with the local tea party/liberty groups has enabled me to reach many similar groups outside of the state, so I'll have access to a decent-sized network outside of Ohio. I'm fully aware that the Speaker gets the majority of his donations from outside the state, and I understand that I'm going to have to spend some time with groups outside of the state to reach my fundraising goals.
Robert Elliott: What do you believe are the three or five (or whatever) most important issues facing the country, and how do you hope to address them as a congressman?
J.D. Winteregg: There are many important issues facing our country now, but there's an overarching theme connecting the issues and their problems - they're all a result of the dysfunction in Congress. To assume that we can - with the same people in power - effectively address these issues is unrealistic. Right now, what we really need to confront is the issue of Congressional reform. It's only when we reform Congress and can ensure that they'll be held accountable for their actions that we can begin to focus on these other issues.
My plan to address Congressional reform can be summed up in a phrase: "CAST a new light on D.C." Within the Constitutional framework (the amendment process, for example), I would work to push the CAST accountability measures. CAST is an acronym for Community, Authenticity, Service, and Transparency. With Community, I would work to implement a mandate that representatives live within their districts, and the number of days that they spend in D.C. would be capped. The technology available makes this easily possible, and this would help to diminish the centralized lobbyist influence in D.C. With Authenticity, I would work to ensure that no representative may enter Congress if his or her previous position was a political or lobbying position. We need to make it difficult for people to become lifetime politicians, and we need to break up that political ladder-climbing. With Service, we need to frame the representative's time in D.C. as such. I believe they have forgotten that they are employed by the people, and they need understand that their role in Congress is to work for us. That's why I want to implement a 12 year service limit. Anything beyond this amount of time creates a climate where the politician begins to work in his or her self-interests and not in the interests of the constituents. With Transparency, I would implement a requirement that the representative - and his or her spouse - give specific financial disclosure reports. No one walks out of D.C. as a member of the middle-class, and we need to be sure they aren't leveraging their positions in Congress to become wealthy at the expense of the constituents. By defeating Speaker Boehner in the primary, we will have the national narrative, so by highlighting the CAST message - one that unifies nearly every American - we can pressure our representatives to quickly implement these measures of accountability.
Once Congressional accountability is instituted, we need to focus on the economy. The majority of Americans view this as one of the most important issues (despite the fact that Congress continues to ignore this). We can foster growth by diminishing the role that government plays in the free market. We need to lower the capital gains tax, overhaul our tax system to make it more streamlined and predictable to businesses, and we need to encourage private competition by lifting restrictive governmental regulations.
Other areas I believe need to be addressed are: defining life and protecting and preserving the sanctity of it; securing our national borders; and educational reform. To address the issue of life, we need to direct the discourse to a Constitutional application of defining it (without life, there is no liberty). With securing our national borders, we need to ensure that we're enforcing border/entry laws. Finally, with educational reform, we need to overhaul the system (a disaster, in its current state - a direct result of the No Child Left Behind Act that Boehner co-sponsored) and give more power to the state and local levels to empower parents to make decisions for their own children.
Again, it's only when we confront the issue of Congressional reform that we can begin to think of these other issues. Otherwise, we'll continue seeing disastrous program after disastrous program coming out of D.C. that further complicates our private lives.
Robert Elliott: Is there anything else you want the public to know about you and/or your campaign?
J.D. Winteregg: We've come to a pivotal point in our nation's direction. It's clear that what we've done before - electing lifetime politicians to represent us - has brought us to a point where the government believes its role is to intervene in our private lives and dictate to the American people what we need to do. It's time that we disregard the premise that this is the way it must be done and look elsewhere. There's no better place than to look to our future.
People ask me why my generation won't get involved in politics - particularly on the Right. In large part, it's because the millennial generation doesn't trust that the people in power - the people who put us in this mess - have the answers to these problems. The Establishment hasn't shown that it's willing to throw its weight behind a capable millennial, and it isn't willing to give my generation a voice. With a message of Congressional reform, you can show that you're ready for people in my generation to lead. I can bridge that gap between the millennials and baby boomers, and I can provide that voice that's so desperately needed. While I will represent my generation, my platform reflects the frustration the American people have with Congress and provides a voice to all Americans. Enough is enough - we're ready to reclaim our nation from the Establishment.
For more information on who I am and what I believe, find me on Facebook, Twitter (@JDWinteregg), or at jdwinteregg.com. You can contribute to my fight on my site. You can also send contributions to Committee to Elect J.D. Winteregg, P.O. Box 471, Troy, OH 45373.