for the people
Medicare For All
In my advocacy for healthcare I've been telling the story of my daughter, Shalynne. Two years ago, Shalynne went to the emergency room with nearly all the signs, symptoms, and risk factors of a blood clot. But because she was unable to provide proof of health insurance, she was denied the appropriate care, which ultimately led to her dying in my arms of a pulmonary embolism. Her death at the hands of our Nation's barbaric, profit-driven healthcare system, tragically, is an all too familiar story. The fight, not only against repealing the ACA, but for expanded and improved Medicare for All has become my calling. I didn't choose this fight, it chose me.
Unfortunately, even many so-called progressives have been avoiding the real reason our healthcare system is failing: profit. But healthcare is a human right, not just another consumer product. In order to ensure that all Americans have quality, comprehensive healthcare, we must remove profit motive from the equation. We must fight loudly and proudly for Medicare for All.
Racial, Social & Economic Justice
Too often when talking about racial, social, and economic injustices and inequalities, establishment politicians and policies treat them as discrete, unrelated problems. In reality, however, they cannot be so easily separated. These issues are intersectional. Racial and social inequities — from the racial and gender wage gaps, to the lack of job and housing protections for LGBTQ+ folks, to the causes of institutionalized poverty in communities of color — are explicitly measured and understood in economic terms.
We need bold, new solutions that address injustice comprehensively and intersectionally, and that are, at the same time, specifically tailored to the needs of affected communities, especially immigrants and people of color. It’s not enough to say we need to end the school-to-prison pipeline, when we’ve also got to abolish for-profit prisons, end the failed War on Drugs, and invest in publicly funded affordable housing, education, and job training in our most impoverished communities.
And while many of our most marginalized communities face unique challenges, the American people, as a whole, face a universal struggle for a better life. We’ve got to address the greed and corruption among Wall Street, corporate America, and the rest of the 1%. We need solutions — like a 21st Century Glass-Steagall Act, modern anti-monopoly policies, and a return to progressive taxation — that will lift up the 99% and put us back on the path to prosperity.
Climate Justice & Environmental Stewardship
There is no other issue that highlights the do-nothing nature of the political establishment quite like climate change. We have known for decades that we don’t have much time to act, yet we have done next to nothing substantive to put us on a more sustainable path. We can’t afford to continue treating our public lands and natural resources with disregard, but we also can’t settle for the same, tired, “market solutions” that so many politicians half-heartedly suggest.
Instead, we should take our cue from the indigenous activists and Water Protectors leading the fights against oil pipelines and fracking. We must adopt this ethos of environmental stewardship nationwide, while also, finally recognizing the sovereignty of our indigenous family.
And despite what many neoliberal economists might say, this more sustainable path will actually be a boon to our economy. Publicly investing in the necessary renewable energy technologies and transportation infrastructure would put tens of thousands of Americans to work while also restoring our Nation’s status as a global leader.
Humane Foreign Policy
For as long as most of us can remember, our foreign policy has been dominated by the Military Industrial Complex. This has lead to an endless cycle of war and regime change designed to line the pockets of private defense contractors, while our humanitarian obligations take a back seat. It’s time to expand the scope of debate and to foster an American foreign policy that puts human rights and climate justice at the forefront. This means prioritizing diplomacy over militarism in times of conflict, but it also means thinking holistically about our international relationships in terms of trade.
Once again, this debate has been limited to a position of unfettered free trade or to one of isolationist economic nationalism. What the free traders get right is that our international trade relationships help us to foster peace and forge strong alliances. What they get wrong, however, is the notion that free trade must always prioritize the interests of corporations and profit. In fact, this corporatist globalism produces deeply alienating results — the livelihoods of American workers are crushed when manufacturers move operations abroad in search of cheaper labor, and environmental consequences are swept under the rug in favor of profit maximizing supply chains and the irresponsible depletion of natural resources. We need strong international relationships, and trade must play a role, but we must enact trade deals that prioritize people, workers, and the environment.
For decades the political establishments of both parties have worked together to exclude as many people from the political process as possible. This is, quite frankly, unacceptable, and it has had disastrous results for the American people. The scope of policy debate in Washington is so limited compared to how families talk around the kitchen table about the issues that affect their daily lives. To remedy this discrepancy, we’ve got to radically embrace democracy.
This starts with getting money out of politics. We need to end Citizens United, and move towards publicly funded elections. Furthermore, we need to bring the millions of disaffected potential voters back into the political process. In order to do so we need automatic voter registration, to do away with Super Delegates, and to adopt open primaries and ranked choice voting. Only then will our public representatives actually represent the people and their ideas.