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Just days before the midterm elections, which could redefine the political landscape in favor of the GOP, El American spoke with Republican House candidate for Virginia’s 8th District, Karina Lipsman, a Ukrainian-American who believes in the need to renew leadership with moderate candidates who appeal to civility and common sense, and who focus on solidifying the economy, improving educational standards, bolstering national security, and restructuring the immigration system.
Lipsman believes that the United States has had “so much failed leadership,” and that Americans are looking to the federal government for “some reprieve” on crime control, historic levels of inflation, the politicization of education, and the security of the country.
“These are all things that affect people regardless of their party affiliation, and the U.S. Government has done very little to help these people who have struggled. And they continue to struggle to put food on their tables, put gas in their cars, pay their bills,” Lipsman told El American.
Education is a priority for Lipsman
Having come to the United States at a young age fleeing Soviet communism, Lipsman is concerned about how political leadership exacerbates division and how the government is taking advantage of the education system to segregate and ideologize the youth. For the candidate, American public schooling is “failing our children” at a time when ” the future doesn’t look as bright as it should.”
“Our country is divided so much more today than it was even two years ago, than it was four or five years ago, and we continue to divide, and divide, and divide, and we continue to put people in groups, and we continue to make these groups fight against each other. I’m from Soviet Ukraine, this is exactly what was taught in our school systems,” she warned.
Part of her concern is the radical agenda that Democrats insist on installing in public schools.
” Our children have to learn basic skills to be successful. It’s fine for people, once they turn a certain age, to love whoever they want or experience other things in their lives, but right now in our school system, children should be learning basic skills: basic writing, basic reading, math, science, history, all the things that will set them up for success,” the Republican said.
The candidate reproaches both the education system and the corporate system for prioritizing “warm and fuzzy” rhetoric over “real education” that will prepare new generations for success and, consequently, elevate America’s value and prosperity on the global stage. “This is something that we really need to focus on,” Lipsman continued. “Making sure that teachers are teaching children what they need to be successful.”
Her education proposal is not limited to standardizing public education, but to promoting an education system that prepares Americans for the jobs the economy needs and therefore, offers better rewards.
“A four-year education should not be a pre-requisite for employment in this country,” she said. “We need to destigmatize trade schools, vocational-technical programs, things that may not necessarily be something that people think of because they’re forced into a four-year path. But we need more trade skills and labor here in our country because we ultimately want to build more manufacturing and more companies here in the U.S., and we need Americans to adopt those measures instead of importing labor from other countries.”
Another priority issue for Lipsman regarding education is transparency, which, in her opinion, cannot be achieved if parents are prevented from participating in what happens in the halls of schools and what is taught in the classrooms. In this sense, the candidate promotes greater coordination between authorities and parents on public education.
The solution she proposes involves the renewal of political leadership: the election of moderate candidates who, working together with leaders of other parties, will restore integrity and pride to public education.
“We’re not a land of bigotry, of racism, we’re a land of opportunities and freedom, and I think that that is something that has been very important to me in my campaign,” she said.
“That’s why I believe in more moderate, commonsense people in Congress, in Washington, to help rebuild that civility, to help rebuild this massive divide that we’ve allowed to be created, so people can talk to each other, so neighbors are not afraid to talk to each other if they have opposing views, so that children can play together and not feel like ‘oh, I can’t play with this person because they are a certain color, or they come from a certain background’. That is not what America is about. America is about embracing everybody: your culture, your heritage, regardless of where you come from,” she said.
Border crisis and immigration: “the proper way”
Although Lipsman defines herself as “a hundred percent pro-immigration” and believes that “America was built by immigrants,” she believes there is “a proper way” to regularly migrate to the country and recognizes that the border crisis is a serious national security problem that floods communities with drugs and human trafficking.
“We have a crisis on our southern border, and we have all sorts of things that are coming in through the border and we’re not securing it,” Lipsman said. “We have drugs, we have substance abuse, we have weapons, human trafficking, all sorts of diseases coming over the border, and a lot of them actually end up in Northern Virginia. We’ve seen that currently with the school system, being afraid because of fentanyl overdoses.”
She noted that drugs come into schools “disguised” as colorful candy or sweets that seem harmless, but can cause overdoses in the smallest amounts. The solution, the candidate thinks, is not to prevent anyone from entering through the border, but to employ the necessary technology to control who enters and who leaves.
“Why are we not protecting our own people? Why are we not allowing our borders to be secure while we still let people in?” she asked. “It’s not about not letting people in, it’s just about letting them in the right way. And then, the people that actually want to come here because of the opportunities and freedoms, we need to provide them a clear pathway to citizenship. We need to give them those resources and tools.”
To achieve this, Lipsman said she would allocate more funding to Border Patrols through the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to increase the number of trained agents at the borders to make a more efficient and expeditious immigration process possible.” We live in the 21st century, we have the technology to process people quickly and more efficiently, and we can use biometrics and other technology to understand who’s a criminal and who’s not, so when people come over, we can automatically check their background,” she explained.
“We do that in airports right now. So why can’t we do that on the southern border? If people want to come here the right way, great, let them in, let’s figure out how to get them processed, how to integrate them into our society, and get them on a clear path to citizenship. But then we also have to keep the criminals and the warlords out by using that technology on the border to prevent them from getting in, and preventing them from causing criminal activity here and hurting our American citizens.”
Energy independence, inflation, and government spending
Lipsman understands that the Americans’ main concern is the economy. Inflation has reached historic levels under the Democratic administration, whose biggest effort to regulate it has been a climate bill: the Inflation Reduction Act.
“This is something that democrats have been touting, the Inflation Reduction Act, initially to reduce inflation, but now they’re touting about it being the biggest climate bill that’s ever been passed,” she said.
“And that’s not the number one concern we hear, it’s not climate change, it’s inflation, it’s how people put food on their table, how they provide for their families, pay their bills, put gas in their cars, all these things that allow you to do what you do on a daily basis, and climate change is not that concern that I hear about in the district.”
Eliminating inflation does not mean trying to control the climate. Lipsman has a more practical idea: promote domestic production, prioritize American industry and energy independence, reduce regulations, and increase incentives, so that the domestic market is able to offer better-paid jobs.
In this sense, the candidate proposes less state intervention in order to encourage the creation of new companies and promote their success, which would also result in more jobs for Americans. She suggests fixing supply chains, facilitating the manufacture of domestic products, and reducing the burden of imports. To achieve this, she believes that it is necessary to reduce regulations, red tape, and taxes.
But, for Lipsman, the crucial issue to strengthen the economy, especially in times of war in Europe, is energy independence, heavily damaged during the Biden administration.
“We also need to get back to energy independence”, the candidate emphasized. “That’s one of the biggest things that’s going to help us with our economic standing, because we have clean oil and natural gas here in the United States that we can use, instead of importing from Venezuela, Saudi Arabia or Russia.”
For Lipsman, energy independence and the exploitation of oil and gas do not necessarily translate into abandoning renewable energy projects. On the contrary, Lipsman believes it is necessary for the United States to be able to supply itself with domestic production in order to finance a transition to other types of cleaner energy. This means encouraging small and medium-sized technology companies to engage in research and development.
“We all want a cleaner planet, we all want cleaner water, cleaner air, it’s just a matter of how we get there,” she continued.
“I think incentivizing start-ups instead of throwing money at companies like GM or Ford, who already have their own research and development dollars that they can reinvest into their own vehicles. It’s something that we need to focus on instead of throwing money at the big companies, we need to provide incentives and credits to the smaller companies that are trying to get into this business and trying to innovate and create cleaner energy for us.”
“All of this could have been prevented”: Putin, Ukraine, and Elon Musk’s Proposal
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has also taken a hit on the global economy, especially in gas prices and inflation all over the worl. Lipsman says that this is “something obviously near and dear to my heart” and, perhaps for that reason, she says that “you don’t rationalize with a bully,” namely, Vladimir Putin. Moreover, she believes the Biden administration bears some responsibility for the invasion.
“Having spent 14 years in the intelligence and defense community, having seen what’s been happening behind closed doors, this was all expected, and I’ve actually briefed high-level military officers and some of the folks that work in the administration on what the next steps look like, what should we have done to defer the invasion from happening in the first place, because we had all that information, we had the data, we had the capabilities, we had the time,” Lipsman reproached.
“We just chose to approach it from a diplomatic perspective, versus understanding the kind of person that Putin is, which is a bully, and you don’t rationalize with a bully. You never do.”
Lipsman believes that President Biden “just sat back and allowed him to invade Ukraine” rather than impose “severe sanctions” beforehand that would force him to withdraw his troops from the Ukrainian border. Biden should have taken a position of strength, according to the candidate.
“All of this could have been prevented, and it’s unfortunate to see people, innocent people, my family, my relatives, dying for absolutely nothing right now, because the Biden administration just sat there and decided that they were going to use diplomatic negotiations versus actual strength and force, which is what is respected by Putin and other leaders similar to him around the world,” she said.
As a result, the U.S. is sending “tons of money, billions of dollars” to Ukraine and the Democratic leadership is showing “no transparency or accountability” on exactly how that money is being used. While she believes it should indeed support the cause of freedom, Lipsman believes the federal government should prioritize the interests of Americans, who are suffering more and more every day from the effects of war in Europe.
“We have a crisis here in America that we need to take care of, and we need to take care of our own people first, and we need to build public-private partnerships to help with other things that are going on around the world,” Lipsman said. “The U.S. is not a piggy bank for everybody. We’ve seen how badly we’ve been spending and spending, tens of trillions of dollars in that right now, and we continue to put ourselves more and more in debt. This is hurting our economy, our people, this is hurting America.”
While an end to the conflict should not escalate to a nuclear threat, Lipsman believes the strength of allies is paramount. Peace agreements, such as the one proposed by Elon Musk between Russia and Ukraine, will not be enough if Putin does not get what he wants.
“Unfortunately, when dealing with people like Putin, peace deals are again just like diplomatic negotiations, so unless he gets what he wants out of the deal, he’s not going to stop,” she explained.
“As much as we appreciate Elon Musk wanting to create this opportunity, and I wish it was true, and I wish we could move down that path of peace, that’s not how this leader operates, and that’s the unfortunate truth. He operates and respects strength, he operates and respects people who will stand up to him. This is something that we, as a country, really need to think about, and we need to work with our NATO partners on how to establish that strength.”
She clarified that this is not about promoting further escalations to war, but about being “more mindful” about how Putin thinks, so that a resistance that he respects can be established, one he would dare not challenge.
“He’s not going to come sit at the table and say ‘okay, you know what? I want this to end as well, so I’m going to move out of Ukraine and give everything back’” Lipsman continued. “No, he just called for a mobilization of additional Russian troops. He’s increasing nuclear escalations. That’s what Putin’s doing, he’s not going to come to the table and talk peace.”
Her expectations for the midterms
In light of the GOP’s progress among independents and undecideds, and with a number of Democratic policies generating a backlash among Biden voters, Lipsman is optimistic about the midterms.
“From a majority standpoint, I believe that Republicans will take the House either way,” she said. “I believe they need 4 or 5 seats to flip the House. That’s not a lot of seats.”
Although her district has had a historically Democratic majority, she also has high hopes for her local race. During her campaign, Lipsman has toured every town in her district, talked with local business people, attended cultural and community events, and her perception is that citizens are “ready for a change.” They just need leadership “that they can respect, who has common sense, is moderate, that looks at issues from a root-cause perspective and understands the views of communities and constituents.”
Her opponent, former Virginia lieutenant governor and District 8 representative since 2015, Donald Sternoff Beyer Jr. is a progressive whose primary concern is climate change. Something that, according to Lipsman, does not concern local voters.
“Right now, my opponent thinks that the number one issue and concern in the district is airplane noise. I go into these communities, airplane noise is the last thing I hear. I don’t even hear that anymore”, Lipsman said regarding Sternoff.
“I hear about crime, the economy, education, national security. That’s what I hear about. These are the communities that are affected, and our district is now 47 % immigrant and minorities, and those communities do not care about airplane noise, they care about being successful, making sure that their children are getting a proper education, making sure they’re safe, and making sure that they have the opportunities to flourish and provide the next generation with as many opportunities as possible.”
Lipsman’s proposals are based purely on common sense, she suggested, and she believes moderation and civility are necessary to bring the country together, end political division and get busy solving real problems.
“My approach is very much focused on common sense, civility, moderation, working across the aisle, and getting things done, focusing on things that are important to people, not focusing on polarizing politics.”
Tomás Lugo, journalist and writer. Born in Venezuela and graduated in Social Communication. Has written for international media outlets. Currently living in Colombia // Tomás Lugo, periodista y articulista. Nacido en Venezuela y graduado en Comunicación Social. Ha escrito para medios internacionales. Actualmente reside en Colombia.