Few issues show as wide a gap between our elected officials and the American people as gun control. Over 90% of the American public favor strict nation-wide background checks, yet Congress can't even pass a law requiring them for those on our government's terrorist watch list. Another common sense piece of legislation is a ban on all semi-automatic weapons. In some states, these military-grade weapons are actually easier to buy than hand guns. The power of the NRA should not be greater than the power of the American people.
THE RIGHT TO VOTE
No right is more essential to our democracy than that of every American to vote. And no right has been more under attack. Communities of color are systematically subjected to ballot access restrictions. We must support the efforts of state legislators across the country to remove these unconstitutional impediments to this sacred right of citizenship. Making it easier to vote for hard working Americans who don’t have the luxury of voting during the week is also crucial. Since voting on the first Tuesday of November is a relic from our nation’s agrarian past, we must move our elections to the first weekend of November. It is also imperative that automatic registration be available to all.
Our right to vote is hollow if the only choices are candidates controlled by special interests. We must pursue a new system of public financing that offers candidates dollar amounts that realistically compete the amounts of special interest money candidates can get on their own. A constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United must also be supported. This is a fight based its moral validity, not on its legislative odds of success. Most immediately we must support progressive candidates running corporate and PAC free campaigns, for their success will encourage others to do the same.
Healthcare is a right to be expanded, not a product to be peddled. The weak response by corporate Democrats in Congress to Republican attacks on the ACA is a betrayal of our party’s progressive commitment to single-payer Medicare for all. Every Democrat in the House should have co-sponsored John Conyer’s HR 676 for Expanded And Improved Medicare For All on 1/24/17, the day it was introduced. In California, passage of SB562 is essential. Not only will it give the people of our state the Medicare for all healthcare system they need and deserve, it would also strengthen California’s role as a progressive leader for other states to follow.
Jobs at a living wage
Our inalienable right as Americans to pursue happiness is impossible without a job that pays a livable wage. We must have a national minimum wage of $15 adjusted to the cost-of-living in the state where the minimum wage is being paid. And we must embrace the “win-win” of green jobs that provide livable wages while addressing the health of our planet.
No issue cuts to our core of what we stand for as a nation more than immigration. All Trump-era acts of discrimination masquerading as immigration policy must be reversed. A clear pathway to citizenship that keeps families together is essential; and threats to betray the over 800,000 Dreamers who, with no guarantee of protection, choose to expose their identities to the federal government is nothing short of morally obscene. This weaponization of confusion by Republicans on the rights of immigrants makes it imperative that all Democrats support resolutions like H.R. 1006 that seek to “clarify the rights of all persons who are held or detained at a port of entry or any other detention facility” overseen by the federal government.
From prisons and immigrant detention centers to utilities having a say in matters of environmental importance, the intrusion of profit motive into crucial segments of American life so pervasive that it is in danger of becoming the norm. The role of government is to protect and serve, not turn a profit.
Our nation has been in a perpetual state of war for decades for no coherent reason other than to create opportunities for those who profit from it. Pursing peace through unilateral cooperation and humanitarian relief efforts is the only way a world with nuclear weapons can prevent its own demise. Domestically, the ongoing mass killings with military grade weapon are bringing that same profit motive for war to every community in America. Sensible gun control and access to proper mental healthcare are crucial.
No American should go into insurmountable debt because they choose to get a college education. We must make community colleges tuition-free and allow the refinancing of student debt to lower interest rates like any other loan.
Criminal justice reform
Our nation now has 25% of the world’s prison population. To reverse this trend we must significantly reduce “Mandatory Minimum” sentencing for non-violent offenses, legalize cannabis, and address the issue of racial bias among law enforcement. Private prisons must be outlawed. To link the freedom of Americans with a profit motive is obscene.
All Americans deserve equal rights, dignity, and access. We cannot let the GOP discriminate against the LGBTQIA community with thinly veiled “religious liberty” bills. The rights of this community must extend to equal treatment in medical care, prisons, the military, and housing.
protecting the environment
Breathable air and clean water are basic human rights. Nurturing our planet for future generations demands re-entry into the Paris Climate Accord. Domestically, tax incentives for green businesses will help insure that this sector of our economy is the job-creating engine it can and should be; and federal funds for California must be used in a forward-looking way. We need waste disposal facilities, not wider freeways.
To fight for the 99% of Americans struggling to make ends meet we must have a fair tax system that also closes tax loopholes for the top 1%. We also need a more progressive tax on millionaires, using the revenue it generates for education, job creation, and repairing our infrastructure.