Doug Hughes, a mailman from Florida who recently made headline news for flying his gyrocopter onto the West Lawn at the U.S. Capitol Building, will be in Washington DC for his first court hearing on May 21. Hughes has been charged with operating an unregistered aircraft and violating national airspace, which can potentially land him up to four years in prison, plus fines. I had the chance to interview him about his cause of getting money out of politics.
Medea: Can you tell us a little about yourself?
Doug: I'm a mailman in Riverview, FL, near Tampa. I'm 61 years old, married, with four children. My wife, Alena (aka the warden), is the power behind the throne. She keeps up on what I've failed to do and puts stuff in front of me for action that I would otherwise overlook. She's an incredible woman and how she endures what I have put her through is a marvel.
Kathy is my younger daughter, 11. She's a spitball, fiercely defensive of her papa in the face of criticism. Think of Scout in the novel To Kill a Mockingbird.
Medea: Why did you fly your gyrocopter onto the West Lawn of the US Capitol Building?
Doug: My flight was a call to action, to spotlight corruption in DC and more importantly, to present solutions to the institutional graft. As I had informed the authorities, I had no violent inclinations or intent. An ultralight aircraft like a gyrocopter poses no major physical threat.
The real threat is an overwhelming tide of distrust for government institutions that is fueling sympathy for violent change from citizens who don't know that nonviolent reform is an option! Real reform, nonviolent reform, has to be catapulted (or flown in a gyrocopter) to the forefront of public consciousness as a defining principle.
Medea: What is your goal?
Doug: I want to unite people, left and right, young and old, rich and poor, people who are opposed to those who subvert the cause of democracy for their personal gain. Too many people have served the cause of freedom for this generation to surrender it to the control of few wealthy men driven by greed or a lust for power. It's our duty to restore government of the people.
Medea: Who and what has influenced you?
Doug: The first book I read after I decided to become an activist was Rules for Radicals by Saul Alinsky. Any author deceased for 40 years who could still raise the hackles on Rush Limbaugh's back is a must-read. Alinsky didn't disappoint. I learned a lot about tactics, how to raise awareness about the nature of the monster, the reasons we must slay it, and the methods we can utilize to ensure its demise. (If the metaphor of dragon-slaying by sword is too violent for you, consider it as a radical vasectomy using a big scalpel.)
Medea: When you say "the monster", what do you mean?
Doug: The "monster" is not just campaign finance. Ultimately, we have to address corruption, which manifests before, during, and after the service of a public official. Right now, the public is getting "service" from Congress in the same way a cow is serviced by a bull.