CAMPAIGN FINANCE AND ETHICS
Elections that reflect the will of the people are paramount to upholding the integrity of a representative democracy. We must begin by acknowledging some basic truths:
Although non-human entities such as corporations, labor unions, etc., enjoy certain protections under law, they do not possess the same rights that are Constitutionally guaranteed to actual human persons in our electoral system.
Money spent on campaigns should not be equated with the political speech rights of actual humans.
This campaign operates under these core values and as such will only accept contributions from actual people.
Healthcare is a human right, not a privilege. Despite their divisions, Americans agree we need to fix our broken healthcare system. Compared to the other major nations of the world, we spend the most money on healthcare, yet we have a shorter average life expectancy to show for it. We must join the rest of the developed world and expand access to high quality healthcare to every citizen regardless of age or income. Universal coverage through a Medicare For All program will guarantee cost-effective healthcare to all citizens. We owe it to our future generations and to our country’s economic stability to fight for healthcare for all Americans.
RACIAL & SOCIAL EQUITY
Our country was founded on a promise of equality, and we must fight to make that reality for all Americans. While we have made recent strides towards a more inclusive society, we must recognize that sociopolitical and economic forces still hinder the upward mobility of some of our citizens. Growing economic disparities hit communities of color the hardest and make justice more distant. We must uphold every citizen’s right to vote through automatic voter registration, to be safe in their own communities, and to obtain education that will lead to meaningful employment.
The Constitution promises that all persons of this country will have equal protection under the law. We will continue our fight to realize that promise by fighting for LGBT marriage equality and workplace protections. No one should be denied this justice because of whom they love or how they identify themselves.
Today’s seniors were yesterday’s workforce. Ensuring Arkansans the opportunity for quality living should stretch to every stage of life. For many of our senior citizens, a dignified life is just not possible. No Arkansan should be left vulnerable due to fear of financial insecurity or lack of quality care. Our state has one of the highest rates of senior hunger in the U.S., and we have a moral obligation to serve the most basic needs of every Arkansan regardless of age. Rectifying these problems is critical to building a just society, where no one is neglected, and no one is forgotten.
Too often, our veterans are not given the respect and merit they have so rightfully earned. With nearly 60,000 veterans living in the Second District, we must commit to acknowledging and addressing the issues they frequently face. We owe quality mental and physical healthcare to all veterans in need, opportunities for successful reentry into the workplace and society, and commitments to rectify pervasive homelessness. These are debts that must be paid without exception.
America is a nation that was built by immigrants. For far too long, Congress has lacked the political will to develop a rational immigration policy that balances our need to control our borders and ensure security while upholding the American tradition of refuge to those who flee persecution and danger and seek a better life for their families.
We must have the courage to recognize that our government has enacted disruptive trade policies that bankrupt traditional forms of agriculture and leave desperate families who look for a way to survive by fleeing their country. We need to provide these immigrants a lawfully-earned path to citizenship. Too often these people remain in the shadows and are targets of violence and economic exploitation; it is our moral obligation to end this injustice.
Additionally, our nation must never discriminate based on a person’s theological beliefs. The Constitution ensures that there should be no religious tests and guarantees the freedom of conscience. No one should be denied the privilege of citizenship or the ability to travel because of their religion.
All children deserve free quality education. Investing in our children’s future begins by providing access to preschool programs and extends into easing the financial burdens that come with higher education. Today, there is still a great divide in access to quality educational opportunities within our state. Too many schools go without efficient broadband capabilities, up-to-date and affordable textbooks, and sufficient facilities. Many students struggle to learn because they don’t have enough food to eat. Unfortunately, educational policy has been dominated by politicians with little insight into the day-to-day struggles of our schools. It is important that we emphasize the value of each individual student. Our commitment to quality education impacts the future of not only our children, but also our communities and our state.
Arkansas relies on our agricultural communities. Nearly half of Arkansans live in a rural county, and over half of those counties have a poverty rate of 25 percent or greater. To encourage a prosperous and fair economy, it is crucial that we foster opportunities in our rural communities. We must commit to invest in greater broadband capability, electrical infrastructure, rural healthcare, and food security programs. Rural communities are the backbone of our state's economy, and our policies should reflect this.
The planet is our only home, and we have a responsibility to care for it. Human activity directly contributes to the planet’s changing climate. As the wealthiest nation on Earth, we have a responsibility to alter our energy consumption and mitigate the destructive effects of climate change. By investing in renewable energy measures, we can further expand economic development and growth throughout the state. Being the Natural State, we owe it to ourselves to be the leading innovators in environmental sustainability.
From the first day that I declared my candidacy for Arkansas’s Second Congressional District seat, I also stated my pro-life position which is quite rare among Democratic politicians and generated quite a bit of press early on. Since this is such an unusual position for a Democrat, I feel that it is necessary to elaborate on my position with the hopes of fostering dialogue on all sides of the political spectrum in a respectful manner.
In the early days of my campaign, a letter to the editor was published which questioned the authenticity of my pro-life position as I had stated that I was philosophically opposed to abortion. The author of this letter equated this position to being “philosophically opposed to slavery” but choosing not to vote to overturn it. I do respectfully submit the following: The institution of slavery was abolished by the 13th Amendment and the practice was thus definitively ended for all time. This act was enforceable and effective. Although we did experience the Jim Crow era, humans could no longer lay claim to owning other humans.
However, this analogy does not hold when applied to Roe v. Wade. If one were to overturn Roe, we would simply return to an era of widespread illegal abortion. Individuals could still receive abortions from sympathetic medical professionals, travel to other jurisdictions that still provide abortions, or receive dangerous, unsafe, or not-regulated abortions. Regardless of the legal standing of the means--the action and its effect would continue. As in many other situations, simply outlawing particular actions has not made them effectively cease in society.
If Roe were to be overturned, abortion would be classified among crimes like murder, theft, assault, and rape, which are everyday occurrences in the United States, although they are illegal. These latter offenses are theoretically easily policed and the perpetrators sanctioned. Furthermore, the policing of such actions is vigorously supported by our society. This would not be the case with the policing of illegal abortions in a theoretical post-Roe world. Given the normalization of abortion within society today, a widespread outcry for and the vigorous prosecution of illegal abortions would not be present. If one believes that abortion is a grave tragedy, one should be as troubled by abortions that would occur illegally as well. A more comprehensive solution is to work for a just society which would diminish the underlying deprivations which give rise to many abortions.
As we know, the abortion debate is probably the most divisive and polarizing political issue of our time. The far pole on one side believes there should be limitless abortion rights while the opposite political pole believes there should be a complete ban. As in virtually every other area of law and civil society, one side must accept the government’s, vis-à-vis the people’s, right to regulate a practice that the other side finds limitlessly unacceptable in every situation. The reality is that the state makes allowances for abortion in varying circumstances (life of the mother, rape, incest, viability). These exceptions may never be acceptable for some. Conversely, others want unrestricted abortion at every stage and they will feel that their court-granted right is not fully realized. Established law has already legislated concessions on abortion, which cannot be overlooked in country that is governed by the rule of law. As in so many other issues in society, the law, in balancing the different perceptions of rights for different groups leaves no one side feeling completely vindicated. But as a nation that believes the rule of law is the bedrock of a civil society, ultimately both sides must reconcile what each deems as their most desired outcome with what the law prescribes.
Although I am morally opposed to the practice of abortion because I believe an unborn child is a human life, I recognize as legitimate this compromise that decades of law have established on the issue.
I support policy such as the Pregnant Women Support Act which was passed along with the Affordable Care Act which gives women in crisis pregnancies support and other options besides abortion. I support a paid-maternity leave, which would allow mothers to spend time with their child in the vital, early stages of life. I also support Medicare For All, which would provide healthcare to all persons regardless of their income, gender, or background. I also support equal pay for equal work, which should be requirement for all employers.
I support the upholding of the Hyde Amendment which has prohibited the use of federal funds for abortion for the last four decades.
Conversely, I do not support the Federal defunding of Planned Parenthood since our society does not have a comprehensive and universally accessible health system that serves all people. Planned Parenthood provides many services such as family planning and cancer screenings to which many women would otherwise have no access. None of the federal funding Planned Parenthood receives can legally be spent on abortion services.
My belief in the inherent dignity and sacredness of human life compels me to not only seek to protect life in its most vulnerable stage, but to also fight to uphold dignified living circumstances at every stage. If we are truly committed to protecting life, we must refuse to settle for a healthcare system in which tens of thousands of Americans die each year because of lack of access to healthcare in the wealthiest country in the world. A consistent pro-life view rejects the philosophy that human labor is a commodity to be traded on the free market with wages as low as the market will allow. Our pro-life worldview should compel us to welcome the immigrant and the refugee that are fleeing unlivable situations to make a better life for their family.
We must be as troubled by gun violence in our communities and unjust wars overseas as we are by abortion. We must recognize the view of Pope Francis that economies of exclusion and income and racial inequality also kill. We must reject the perverse reordering of the societal hierarchy that sees “corporate persons” as having the same Constitutional rights as actual human persons that are created in the image and likeness of God.
Pro-life voters deserve other choices than political candidates whose only pro-life position is the banning of abortion. We must hold these politicians accountable at election time when they support legislation that denies their constituent’s right to live a dignified life.
In my experience, people’s views on abortion are deeply held and influenced by their background and the events that have shaped their lives. The demonization of people on both sides of this issue by the two American political parties have caused untold damage to our national psyche and have distracted voters from other grave issues. We must purge the “baby-killer” and “woman-hater” invectives from our discourse if we are ever to advance as one people to address the serious problems we face as a nation today. We must find a third way forward in which we can respect differing views on abortion and permit those who hold them entry into our circles of social and political discourse.
The political polar positions of 100% criminalization in all situations or 100% legality at all stages are actually rarely held among real people. About 60% of Americans fall somewhere in the middle of this continuum and the refusal of political parties to acknowledge this reality has severely limited political discourse in this country at a time when it is needed the most.
For far too long, politicians that wrap themselves in the “pro-life” mantle have been inconsistent in this belief by their unwillingness to support positions that uphold human dignity after birth. Conversely, those of us who advocate for social justice must be aware that “quality of life issues” mean nothing to a person that has been deprived of life in the womb.
For both sides, a thoughtful and solicitous balance must be struck that encompasses the bounds of theology, responsible law, responsible social citizenship, and gentle humanity’s decency as we strive to compassionately serve the needs and honor the dignity of human life in all its forms.