Building a more equal and more equitable democracy is how we build a brighter, more innovative, and more profitable economy. That is the promise and the hypothesis of the Declaration of Independence, and it is the lesson that the American experiment has taught the world again and again—through periods of both war and peace. Every time we expand equality to encompass more people and to do it more fully, we unlock another great pool of talent, intellect, and community engagement.
For too long we have had leadership that continues to embrace a top-down model of management, where decisions are made by a small number of people in a backroom or boardroom somewhere. Working from a shriveled talent pool, and with hearts that have become disconnected from the struggles and hopes of the working people, it is no wonder that they have repeatedly lost perspective and confused the difference between human rights and economic commodities, as we discuss in the different parts of my platform.
Our goals are to undo that. Expand our talent pool. Put human rights back in their place as the guiding principles that reign in the rampant drive for profits and make successful capitalism possible. To work from the bottom up, instead of top-down. To reconnect our leaders and their communities. And to unfold the as-yet-unfulfilled potential still inherent in our America.
Healthcare for Every American
Healthcare is a human right and a necessary foundation for restoring the ideals of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
PROTECT INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS
Healthcare is a human right, not a commodity that can be driven by economic competition to be priced out of reach for over 30 million people in the United States. In the wealthiest nation on earth, we owe it to ourselves to guarantee healthcare for every American.
SET PEOPLE FREE FROM CORPORATE DEPENDENCY
Medicare for All will allow people to seek employment opportunities that best fit with their talents and interests, instead of being trapped in a particular job based on the ability to afford health care.
COST SAVINGS FROM LEVERAGE AND CUTTING INEFFIENCIES
Over and over again economic assessments have shown that a national healthcare system will reduce the costs of providing health care by bypassing high-profit insurance middlemen, reducing billing costs, and creating an economy of scale that allows us to negotiate lower prices for drugs and medical equipment. It also streamlines the inefficiency created when medical equipment and pharmaceutical companies seek to siphon high-profit margins from research that was largely subsidized directly and indirectly by tax dollars in the first place.
SHIFT FROM EMERGENT CARE TO PREVENTIVE HEALTHCARE
Additional savings are created because people are able to engage in preventive healthcare practices, ranging from annual exams to screening procedures. This reduces the burden of high-cost emergency care and hospitalization, which amplifies a cycle of debt and keeps people from reaching their highest potential.
Invest in education
An educated populace is the foundation of a great civilization. It holds those in power accountable, innovates new industries, and creates unparalleled prosperity for all.
QUALITY EDUCATION IS A RIGHT
While we have long understood that a strong education system is a right and a precondition for a thriving economy and informed participation in the political process, this has faded from the central role it should play and is being treated as a market commodity. So that those who are born into lower socioeconomic groups are only able to afford a lower-quality education.
EVOLVE TO KEEP UP WITH RESEARCH
There are three central ways that our investment in education has failed to grow to keep up with the increasing needs of the 21st-century student population.
- One is that teacher salaries are incommensurate with the level of training and continuing education required to maintain certification.
- The need for trained professional counselors and special needs educators has been made apparent over the past few decades. The funding needed to staff these positions has not only stagnated but in many cases has actually shrunk. We need to make major investments to bring staffing levels of specialists up to research-justified levels. Anything less is selling Americans short.
- The third central way our investment is falling short is reflected in the growing class sizes, which is even worse in communities with lower property-tax bases to fund schools in their district. We must work to bring student-teacher ratios down, especially given the increased responsibilities that have shifted onto teachers for each of their students.
See the discussion on renovating and innovating the jobs pipeline that built America.
Restore faith in our democracy
We must continue to fulfill the promise of equality by ensuring that political voice does not continue to become more weighted in favor of the wealthy few.
We need to make it easier for every American to vote. Many people aren’t represented because of misguided and even hostile systems that disenfranchise poor Americans. The result has been to suppress many people’s ability to vote, which results in significant losses to the community and the economy. In order to restore democracy, we all must be represented.
CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM
Representative democracy starts locally and builds up to the state and national level. Ordinary Americans deserve to have their voice heard. Instead, corporations, the super-rich, PACs, and dark money are flooding into our political system in record amounts. Working Americans have proportionately little say relative to the extremely wealthy. To restore democracy, we need to fix our campaign finance system.
Contribution limits are critical to ensure that the voice of ordinary Americans has equal weight with millionaires and billionaires. This way, no matter what level of wealth you’ve achieved, you’re guaranteed equal representation.
Protect and promote freedom and human dignity
At the heart of human rights is the sanctity of the individual, and the rights of government are derived from there, not the other way around.
We must end the school-to-prison pipeline. We can do this by promoting equity, and increasing participation in our representative democracy. There are too many broken laws that regularly feed children into the prison system. This inhumane treatment disproportionately forces our most vulnerable citizens into a cycle of oppressive poverty rather than addressing the underlying problems that lead to poverty. In order to restore democracy, we need to fix our most un-democratic systems and laws.
REPRODUCTIVE & ANATOMICAL FREEDOM
Government has no role in dictating anyone’s anatomical or biological decisions. It is the very heart of the founding of America that our rights and freedoms exist by virtue of being an autonomous individual. In the view of the founding fathers, these rights are endowed in each person by their creator. In. Each. Person. When the government steps in to override the choice of not only individuals, but the advice of a person’s family, certified medical care providers, and mental health therapists, it negates the very principles on which its legitimacy to govern is founded. We restore democracy by respecting the sanctity of the individual, and that means allowing citizens to make choices over their own bodies that only they should make.
Criminalizing marijuana has been a major contributing factor to mass incarceration and it’s been a weapon of the class war against the poor and communities of color. It has funded the rise of the dangerous drug cartels as they battled for market share. Legalizing marijuana will allow us to combat more serious issues like dangerous drugs and sex trafficking while raising billions of dollars in new tax revenue. This ensures that we are not disenfranchising healthy and productive members of society.
Reclaim and re-balance our connection to the land
We are connected to the land and the air as surely as we are to each other, and we must shift our policies and practices to reflect that.
In order to protect our natural resources and maintain healthy ecosystems which sustain an ever-growing population, we must push for programs that create career training and support for workers in carbon and methane intensive sectors to transition to good, union jobs in green industries. We must also invest publicly to incentivize the development and growth of new and existing sectors in a green economy to build the world for the 21st century and beyond.
SHRINKING OUR CARBON LOAD
Given the levels of greenhouse gas emissions still being poured into the atmosphere, we must work to reduce our own emissions by at least 40%, as well as working closely with other countries to provide economic support for every nation to ensure they can enjoy the comforts of modernity in a sustainable way. This includes efforts to drive the expansion of low- and zero-emissions energy production.
PROTECT OUR FERTILE FARMLAND
Soil erosion continues at historically high levels in Missouri and other places, this cannot be undone. In order to halt this loss of vital agricultural production, we must restore and increase funding support of conservation practices, like terracing, and prevent the wide-scale conversion of land better suited as pasture to intensive crop production.
Continue on the path to equality for all
The rights and freedoms we each claim for ourselves arise from our humanity itself, if being human does not establish the rights of one group, then it does not do so for any.
LGBTQ & BIPOC EQUALITY
For as much progress as we seem to have made in many respects, there are still significant levels of discrimination and antiquated thinking at all levels of government for members of our minority communities, whether that minority is a racial/cultural one or a function of gender identity or sexual orientation. We have to be the voice in policy discussions and program funding in order to make schools, workplaces, and the community safe and accommodating for these minorities. In addition, there must be a concerted effort to engage in collaboration with advocacy groups and community organizations to bring them into the policy discussions at every step of the process and in working closely with them to measure and improve implementation of government funding and policies once put in place.
BIPOC stands for Black, Indigenous, People of Color.
Women deserve fairness, ranging from equal pay and parental leave to their access to healthcare, educational opportunities, and representation in leadership roles in the public and private sectors. That means supporting legislation that enforces stronger accountability for institutionalized sexism, sexual harassment, and discriminatory workplace environments. It also means recognition and support for women who may have roles outside the traditional workplace, whether that is their disproportionate roles as caregivers or the criminalization of sex work. In the process of addressing these vital issues, we must also engage the fight while always holding in front of us the awareness that these problems are amplified for women of color, LGBTQ+ women, the disabled, and those women who are marginalized by their immigration status.
Improve the Economy for All
Successful democracy is not just about equal opportunity, but about equitable distribution of the benefits of contributing.
SUPPORT MISSOURI FARMERS
We need to break the stranglehold grip that big monopolist agriculture has on our farmers. Too many CAFO’s and multi-national farms pose a threat to our local family farmers. I stand for our farmers and will fight for legislation that fosters innovative new ways to help young people enter agriculture. We need to ensure that changes to the tax laws do not cripple the tradition of passing family farms down to the next generation. We must ensure our rural areas have the federal government’s investment in conservation and infrastructure so our family farms will be as vital to our economy in the next century as they were in the last.
EQUALIZE THE PLAYING FIELD
We need to ensure small and medium-sized businesses have the tools and backing to compete. We must reform capitalism to focus on growth and fostering entrepreneurship. The government SHOULD NOT continue to pick winners and losers among corporate titans at the expense of the little guys.
FAIR AND FREE TRADE
Protectionism limits economic opportunities at home and makes us less secure. We need to reform capitalism and embrace fair and free trade to ensure American farmers and producers are able to participate and gain market share in the global economy. It’s also an important tool in our arsenal against global bad players, bringing democracy-loving countries into our economic orbit and building on the integration model that has ensured global peace for the latter half of the 20th century.
BUST THE TRUST
Break up companies that are “too big to fail.” Some of our most successful companies have become too big and the operation of the free market had to be suspended to prevent them from imploding the entire economy. Excessive consolidation has concentrated market power in too few people’s hands. To ensure small and medium-sized businesses are able to launch and grow across all sectors of our economy, we need to hold our largest companies accountable to ensure they are not incentivized to rig the system against all of us.
Make minimum wage, a living wage. The bottom quartile of income earners in our country has not shared in the upside of wealth creation for decades. We need to revisit policies that have caused this inequality and fight to make sure the economic growth benefits everyone who shared in creating and sustaining that growth and to do this across all income levels.
Those at the top need to pay their fair share. Warren Buffett is famously on record saying it’s morally incomprehensible that he pays a lower percentage of his income than his secretary. That’s also true of large corporations who benefit from government-funded infrastructure and social welfare programs, but too often pay $0 in actual taxes to help shoulder their part of the load.
Renovate and innovate the jobs pipeline that built America
Creating equal opportunities for people in all career paths to succeed in pursuit of the American dream requires restoration of neglected areas.
It was a long, hard fight for the labor movement in the first half of the 20th century to win power for the working class and establish protections and fair pay. Unfortunately, we are now seeing the impact of the separation of capital and labor in corporate governance. This divorce has led to a lack of representation for labor in corporate decision-making. We must fight the so-called“right to work” types of legislation that continue to claw away at working people’s rights. When capital (investors) divorces itself from labor (workers), the whole paradigm shifts away from capitalism and one step closer to feudalism. We need to support stronger union and labor regulations that recognize workers’ rights and that protect their ability for collective bargaining. In order to succeed in that, we must also fight to rein in the level of influence companies and industry representatives are able to wield in support of candidates on the campaign trail and in rewards to political leaders during and after their terms in office.
INTEGRATE VO-TECH PROGRAMS BACK INTO OUR SCHOOLS
Our once thriving vocational education programs in public schools have seen a dramatic drop in recent decades, including a drop in federal funding for these programs by over 30% since 1985. Yet, in every town in America there is a shortage of well-trained, positively engaged labor pool available to step into a vast array of once-proud career paths in building trades, manufacturing, and so on. In addition to the reduced talent pipeline, we also see the impact of this in reduced student engagement and low graduation rates. It is vital that we restore the sense of meaning for many kids whose interests and aptitudes are better aimed at something other than 4-year college degree programs. Incredible programs like FIRST robotics have caught on like wildfire around this country highlighting that hunger among students. By helping to fill a small part of the gap that has been created, programs like this are reigniting interest among students in fields like welding, mechanics, the electrical trades, and more, beyond just college STEM pathways, but as amazing as programs like this are, they are not enough, and those particular models are not replicable to enough trades and communities.
BUILD A BRIDGE TO CAREERS THROUGH SCHOOLS-TO-SKILLS PROGRAMS
The second vital piece to rebuild the pipeline that helps people train and transition to the workforce in fields like the skilled trades is a structured, incentivized process for exploring the various career opportunities. There are highly-successful programs springing up in places around the country that help not only make students better informed about the working conditions, opportunities for advancement, and earning potential of these jobs, but that also help restore the sense of pride in those careers. We need to replicate and upscale those successful programs.
At the heart of this, we need teacher education programs to prepare our teachers to sell and celebrate manufacturing sector jobs just as much as they do science and medicine. We also need to collaborate with trade unions, manufacturing associations, and similar, to bring them into schools and to bring students to the worksites through things like facility tours, field days, and subsidized internships. To create the level of talent that can keep up with the continually-evolving nature of work in these fields, it is imperative that we build a stronger scholarship program for trade schools to continue preparation beyond high school, and that we fund training facilities that rival the ability and appeal of even the average college-based programs.
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