Issues Continued

 

Continue reading our positions and platform here: Campaign Finance and Ethics, Racial and Social Equity, Seniors, Veteran Care, Immigration, Education, Rural Economy, Environment, Labor Rights, Paid Maternity Leave, Equal Pay, and Abortion. 

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.

Sign our petition to show your commitment to over turning the Supreme Court's Citizen United ruling!

 

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. 

 

SENIORS

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. 

We must not only protect Social Security benefits for our seniors, but we must work to drive down the costs of prescription drugs which currently account for a huge percentage of seniors’ out-of-pocket expenses. And, as part of the single-payer Medicare For All program we support, we must end wasteful Medicare Advantage Plans that further exploit our aging population.

 

VETERAN CARE

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. I will fight to deliver solutions for the inefficiencies and waste at VA hospitals, and I have made a key plank of my housing plan ensuring that no veteran lacks safe, affordable housing.

 

IMMIGRATION

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.

I support the immediate passage of the DREAM Act to provide a path to citizenship for the young people brought here as children who are currently covered by DACA. But we must also look beyond a solution that only covers these young people and fight for comprehensive immigration reform that establishes a path to citizenship for the roughly 11 million undocumented people in this country.

In September 2017, I penned an open letter to Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge urging her to reverse her position on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Our letter was delivered to her office on September 5, 2017 with over 100 co-signers. Read the letter here!

 

SENSIBLE GUN CONTROL

As a nation, we must put the safety of our people, especially our children, above the desires of the NRA and the gun lobby. That is why I support a ban on assault style weapons, closing the gun-show loophole, putting universal background checks in place, and moving towards a gun census so that we know how many guns are already in circulation. These measures do not infringe on any American's Second Amendment rights, but provide reasonable regulations that will keep Americans safe and will reduce the horrific number of mass shootings which occur regularly in this country. We cannot accept this violence, and we are morally obligated to take steps to end it. 

See more of my thoughts on gun control and school shootings here:

 

EDUCATION

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.

As we have proposed in our “From the Roots Up” plan, programs like universal Pre-K and universal afterschool care would create an environment that gives students the maximum opportunity to learn and would ease the burden on working families. Alongside this programs, we must also make public colleges and universities tuition-free, so that every young American is guaranteed the education they will need to work and live.Our commitment to quality education impacts the future of not only our children, but also our communities and our state.   

   

RURAL ECONOMY

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 (see our proposed Medicare Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program). Rural communities are the backbone of our state's economy, and our policies should reflect this.

 

ENVIRONMENT

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.

 

LABOR RIGHTS 

American workers deserve dignity. We must protect and expand the right to join a union and collectively bargain for higher wages and fair treatment. From the early 20th century up to the recent teachers’ strike in West Virginia, it is clear that when workers unite together, they can easily defeat attempts to exploit labor and instead earn workers the respect and benefits they deserve.

Unfortunately, here in Arkansas (and in 27 other states), joining or organizing a union is incredibly difficult due to so called “right-to-work” laws: these laws make it illegal to require union membership of all workers in a workplace that is under a union contract. Since these individuals still retain union benefits without paying any fees at all, right-to-work laws starve unions of their funding and discourage employees from organizing. These laws are destructive and exploitative, and must be done away with. That is why, when I am elected, I will support legislation to ban states from infringing on union contracts with these laws, so that unions can organize in every state in the union and continue to fight for better working conditions and higher wages.

Additionally, once we defeat right-to-work laws, we must make it as simple as possible for workers to vote and join a union. This means reforming the convoluted National Labor Relations Board election process, cracking down on employers who attempt to intimidate or coerce workers into not joining a union, and giving unions greater say in how the workplaces they represent are run. Protecting the rights of workers to organize and demand their fair share is central to building a fair economy that works for every American, and we must make it one of our highest priorities.

 

ABORTION 

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.

Many in the pro-life community advocate for a complete ban on abortion in the hopes of ending all abortion. I respectfully submit several problems that I see with this position.  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.  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 allowed at every stage. Established law has already legislated restrictions 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 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. 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.