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Reason: Are you willing to say who you voted for as president?
Kluwe: Gary Johnson. I don’t like any of the choices because our government is fundamentally flawed and won’t change any time soon. The good thing about our government is that it is resistant to huge, sweeping changes. The bad thing about our government is that it is resistant to huge, sweeping changes. Our founding fathers relied on an educated voter system. Our laws are now being written for corporations and organizations, not for people. A corporation is not a person. It’s a collection of people, but has no value on its own.
Take the Libor banking scandal. These banks laundered billions of money. If a person did that, they’d go to jail. Because it’s not a person, it’s fines instead. Bernie Madoff got life in prison.
Reason: There is an interesting cultural tension whenever somebody like an athlete, celebrity, or a rock star speaks out on political issues. They get a lot of attention, but they also get a lot of backlash. You yourself got attention for defending another athlete’s right to speak out to defend gay marriage. Do you feel as though there are particular obligations or hazards to being outspoken about politics when you’re not a member of the political or media classes?
Kluwe: I think that goes back to the label thing. It shouldn’t matter what your job is. What should matter is who you are as a human being. Your job has no bearing on who you are.
Reason: But in your case, you have more of a megaphone for your voice because of who you are.
Kluwe: The way I approach life is that everyone should have an equal voice. That I have a larger voice shows what our society values. Society values entertainment over education.
Reason: Right now, Vikings Special Teams Coach Mike Priefer would prefer you focus on your punting and less on your politics. What do you say when you’re told that your discussion of political issues is a distraction from doing your job well?
Kluwe: This is who I am, that’s who I’m always going to be. I’m totally cognizant that the NFL is a business. If I don’t perform on Sunday they’re going to cut me. When I’m at the facility, I’m focusing on football. If I’m not at the facility, it’s my own life. If I don’t have to think about my job, I shouldn’t have to.
Reason: If you were in a position to make decisions about how American politics operate, what would you change?
Kluwe: There’s several things. First would be getting money out of politics. The business of buying politicians and buying votes is way too widespread. Donors are giving huge amount of money to people creating policy. Business deserves a vote in government because they’re part of it, but there needs to be a limit. I would limit donations to about $100,000 per campaign and only allow only six weeks for campaigning running up to the election.
Term limits on congressmen. We have these people who are basically institutionalized. When we were founded, public service was a service. You took time away from your life. Now it’s a job. That’s not what stable government is about.
Limit lobbying. As new people are filtered in because of term limits lobbyists have more power. And we need a waiting period between serving Congress and becoming a lobbyist. These guys make these laws and pass bills and then three months later they’re working for these same groups.
Make the tax code a lot simpler, which is easier said than done. When you pay your taxes, 50 percent should go to the government for its use and the other 50 percent can be allocated in a couple of different areas. Then they won’t have to throw pork in bills. People will be telling you what your money will be spent on. It gives people more of a voice. People complain “I pay my taxes but I have no say in what my government does with it.”