Tired of Falling Behind

Our nation’s political system is broken. Both parties have been unable to address the big issues successfully for decades. This has deepened polarization, helping to eliminate common ground approaches that combine the best of our American style of democracy. 

Currently, the GOP has control over both the White House and Congress and cannot even pass immigration reform, infrastructure, healthcare, and so much more despite having criticized the Democratic approaches for a decade.

The only issue that seems to unite the GOP is being in opposition to the Democratic Party, especially when it occupies the White House.

The GOP has become unable to do anything but pass massive tax cuts without paying for it. Our grandchildren will be footing the bill. Not exactly fiscal conservatism. And, before the trade war, GDP growth was predicted to decrease annually after these tax cuts, not increase growth. Does that make common sense?

The Democratic Party has its own issues. It has never resolved the divisions exposed during the 2016 presidential election, not recognizing it as yet another false binary choice. During the Great Recession, the Democratic Party chose to tackle healthcare instead of tackling immigration and addressing long term infrastructure issues. 

Like all major reforms, healthcare wasn’t perfect. Far from it. Then, there was no legislative way to fix it without Congressional partners looking out for the best interests of the American people. Does that match up with our common values?

Due to the extreme polarization of our political parties, we now sit with even larger and worsening problems than we did in 2008:

  • Trillion dollar deficits for the foreseeable future. 
  • Higher healthcare costs for Americans. 
  • Crumbling infrastructure issues that have real costs for Americans. 
  • A broken and worsening immigration system.
  • A self-created border crisis that has been made worse by bureaucratic decisions. 
  • A self-created trade war that is increasing costs and prices for American farmers, businesses, and consumers. 

It seems clear that the American economy will get worse on our current trajectory, not better:

  • Making deficits rise faster. 
  • Making wages more stagnant, even decreasing more than they already have over the last year. 
  • Decreasing out of pocket money faster as prices continue to increase. 
  • Increasing unemployment. 
  • Increasing local, state, and federal budget concerns further. 
  • Forcing cuts to vital services which will decrease more revenue to local businesses and economies. 

Do we see the issue with our current trajectory?

We need a new direction as a country. That starts with a new direction politically.

Instead of electing career politicians who rely on big dollar donors and offer rubber stamps and excuses, we should be focusing on what will build an economy, rebuild our infrastructure, and deliver education that provides for a better future. 

I’m tired of falling behind. Aren’t you?

That’s why I decided to run against a 21-year incumbent who I saw as being out of touch with the hardworking people of the 15th District. They deserve someone that will listen to their experiences and concerns and act upon them in Congress.

That’s what I will do as your representative and why I am fighting to earn your support and your vote this November.

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Separating Families: Broken Immigration

Separating children from their parents is not just a tragedy, it’s traumatizing. That isn’t just a belief, it’s backed up by research of millions of children. Sometimes, it is absolutely necessary to remove a child from an abusive or violent parent in order to protect the child. That’s not what is happening here.

When I examine what’s happening on our southern border, I’m concerned about many issues.

The top priority should be protecting these children from harm, especially harm created by the decisions made by our government. That includes the trauma created by our decision to separate them from their parents. 

If Mary and Joseph came across our Southern Border, we would have torn Jesus from their arms. Does that sound like an American value?

I’m also concerned about our broken immigration systems, as many Americans are. This has been a problem for decades and something that both parties have failed to address.

Many people aren’t aware that the majority of illegal immigration is not from border crossings but from visa overstays. Our current system isn’t able to track those visa overstays.

Does it make sense to focus all of the attention on the border, especially when we’re traumatizing children in order for some politicians to get their way?

And, finally, we have serious economic and budgetary issues in our country. Throughout our history, an influx of immigrants have become part of the rich fabric of our great nation, enriching it with their work ethic, their families, and their culture. No other country on earth assimilates immigrants better. Why should we stop now?

Many factories and industries aren’t able to fill the positions they have available. We need new workers to fill these jobs.

We should be welcoming hard working people into our country because they will be paying taxes, paying into Social Security and Medicare which helps to keep these vital programs secure for the next generations, and contributing to our communities.

Do we need to let just anyone into our country? No. 

But, we need to fix our broken immigration system so that people can come here legally, so that those seeking asylum can do so safely, and that we can grow as a nation and provide for hardworking Americans that have spent a lifetime working hard for their own families and communities.

Doing nothing has led us to where a few politicians decided it was better to traumatize children than to solve our broken immigration system problem. 

I’d say there is plenty of common ground, common sense, and common values on this issue.

  • Who wants to harm children?
  • Who wants to continue doing the same thing, which is nothing, and expecting the problem to simply go away?
  • Who wants to ask future generations to answer for our mistakes?

I certainly don’t, and I don’t believe most people do either.

Let’s come together and solve our nation’s problems.

People Over Party.

“Are you for the party or the people? Both parties have wrecked IL. It’s “structure” is currently in a “state of disrepair” (has been for decades). With an estimated $8B deficit and growing, over 35k net loss of people—how will you standup to the Madigan’s and Edgar’s of IL? You won’t! They will not support your re-election…you’ll be ostracized.”

First, I agree that there are serious problems in Illinois caused by both sides of the aisle, especially when it comes to downstate.

Second, I’m running in a federal race to represent the 15th District in the U.S. House of Representatives, not the State Legislature.

There are great Democratic candidates running for State House and State Senate races throughout downstate. I would urge you to find yours and listen to what they have to say because they want to listen to what you have to say.

“IL can’t even climb out of the cellar in this historic economy?”

About “this historic economy.” It is historic, but not in the right way for the vast majority of people. And, that’s not just about Illinois. Wages have been stagnant for decades, in some industries wages have actually been decreasing. Many 70-80 year olds are working 6 or 7 days a week to help foot the bill for two or three generations. These working class people have been left behind by the economy, especially in rural America and rural Illinois.

“We sold our land in S.IL a few years ago—we were going to build our “dream” home; dumped the plans to retire in IL from the military—why bring our $ and entrepreneur ideas to a state with the top tax burden?”

If you want to examine the real drivers of our high tax environment in Illinois, look no further than our regressive flat income tax. This places all the burdens on working people and true small businesses. It also lands the burden of paying for education, infrastructure, and local government on property taxes. This is why the economic environment is so hostile to both workers and especially to business.

It will only get worse when the economy slows, and it will—tax receipts will decrease and state handouts will uptick.”

Calling assistance to families “handouts” is an easy way to not appreciate the real needs as well as the real economic benefits of this assistance. Under our current system, working while poor is punished. We should be incentivizing work instead. If you have any health condition within your family, these issues are compounded greatly.

The reality about monetary, healthcare, shelter, and food assistance is that all of these go directly into our local economies. When we cut these resources, we’re robbing our small businesses of much needed revenue. And, without eliminating the disincentives and punishments for getting back to work, the bridge to self-reliance is non-existent. We can work on this from both a state and a federal level.

“Why would an IL politician be concerned with people staying or leaving IL? Politicians do well in IL, get that state “gravy-train” (golden parachute) retirement plan to the tune of $72k off the backs of workers. For what? Nation leading deficits, taxes, state gov criminality, etc. When outflow outpaces inflow, maybe people will learn?”

When you examine downstate politics, the Republicans have one mantra. “Madigan.” That’s all they run on mostly, adding in one or two social issues that divide and separate as opposed to build and boost our local economies. I know that the People are exhausted by that boring, tired playbook.

Republicans have also ran nearly every county board, city council, state house, and state senate district for decades. What do the People have to show for it? Mass exodus.

There is plenty of blame to go around, but doing the same thing and expecting a different result . . . there’s a phrase about that, isn’t there?

  • I’m focused like a laser on changing the conversation.
  • Moving beyond this blame game.
  • Finding common ground, using common sense, and utilizing common values to move our district forward.
  • That is why I’m showing up, standing up, and speaking out everywhere I go. 

The People deserve to be heard, they deserve to be believed, and they deserve someone to stand up and fight for them everyday, both in D.C., in Springfield, and in their communities.

  • I’m open to solutions while sharing the innovative solutions I know have worked and that will work here.
  • We’re working together with anyone that is willing and open to do so.
  • Most people are too.

Voting Rights, SCOTUS and You

In a 5-4 vote, the Supreme Court ruled today that states can purge voters from voter rolls when they haven’t voted in awhile. Thankfully in Illinois, it’s fairly easy to vote.

However, if you don’t vote, you can now be kicked off the voter rolls.

In 2016, that would mean millions of voters who haven’t voted in decades would have been turned away at the polls, many of which who came out to vote for Donald Trump.

There’s are simple solutions to this:

  • Check your voter registration.
  • Start voting.
  • Become engaged in your local, state, and federal government.
  • It matters.

Other than that, the people are going to have to elect different representatives that fight to change the 1993 Voter Registration Act to protect your rights to ballot access.

Throughout my life working to register voters, get out the vote, and listen to the people, I’ve always fought to connect all voters, regardless of political affiliation, to the right to vote.

If we live in a country where someone who wants to vote cannot,

does democracy still exist in America?

I’ll fight to protect your rights, all of them.

Memorial Day: Sacrifice and Service

Each of us has something to offer our country. What we remember on Memorial Day are the sacrifices of our brothers and sisters. 

This sacrifice means everything to protecting our freedom, our liberty, and our capacity to be of service to our country and each other.

This sacrifice was given so that we can offer something significant and worthwhile to our community. 

So few on earth have what our democracy offers. And, fewer seem to relish the opportunities given from the sacrifices of these brave troops because of perceived differences.

Every single day I remember what has been lost. This is the motivation that leads me to do something more with what has been given by the sacrifices of others.

That is what Memorial Day means to me. It is with me every day. 

The Time for Accountability with Firearms is Now

In Texas, if a child takes a firearm of their parent or guardian, the parent or guardian is responsible. However, there is a rather large loophole in this law. If a child is 16 or under 18, the parent or guardian is no longer responsible. Also, minors cannot purchase firearms in Texas under most circumstances. 

Yet again, it comes down to personal accountability and responsibility of firearms. A ban on weapons would have not stopped this terrorist act, as this was just a shotgun. 

At some point, all of the people supporting the Second Amendment and all of the people that want to minimize gun violence in America, especially at our schools, must come together. I stand with both. Some people refuse to do so. Those that do not aren’t really in the conversation. 

  • For many Republicans this is a difficult choice as they fear going against the NRA, the angry base, or being primaried, forgetting the lives of the children and families they represent.
  • For many Democrats it is a difficult choice to not get everything they want and risk upsetting the base. 

For me it is very simple.

The status quo continues to grow the number of body bags in our schools.

Doing nothing, the NRA and gun manufacturers approach, has not worked. 

The time is now to stop listening to special interest groups and start working on simple measures that can give law enforcement the tools to make those who aren’t responsible with their firearms to be held accountable.

The time is now to start listening to each other. Those that own guns and are responsible are not the enemy. Those that want to do something about gun violence are not the enemy. We’re actually on the same page. 

Let’s work together and stop listening to the most shrill, loud voices on this issue and get down to the business of the American people and start working to solve our nation’s problems.

Gun Sanctuaries and Broken Immigration

Part of my job is to create new options that can bring people with seemingly disparate positions together.

We have to acknowledge that for many people the fear and anxiety are real and work within that reality. The people matter and their voices haven’t been heard in too long.

Many have bought into the NRA propaganda, which is relentless. Also, the politics on Second Amendment rights and how it parallels to broken immigration policy cannot be ignored.

These types of politically toxic policies are an outgrowth of our increasingly divided nation.

Instead of discussing options on how to move forward together, our country and state are falling further and further behind.

Meanwhile, actions like gun sanctuaries and sanctuary cities are sowing more division and derision into both our communities and our politics. This is because there is no constructive debate on reasonable reforms on either guns or immigration in Congress.

Working families are financially stressed and have been enduring wage stagnation for too long.

Rural America hasn’t had a voice in Congress in decades.

With few choices on the ballot, there has to be someone or something to blame, so incumbents often use divisive issues to excuse their lack of results.

Enough is Enough.

I’m tired of the excuses. I know you are too.

It is high time we started understanding why we react so strongly to issues and figure out how we can begin to respond instead. 

Aren’t we ready for our immigration system to move into the 21st century? 

Aren’t we ready for people to be held accountable for their own firearms?

It’s utterly clear that one size does not fit all. However, if the two sides can’t even sit down and discuss these issues in a responsible manner nothing will ever improve.

Under the current broken system, wages are depressed because some employers can pay starvation wages to those who are living here illegally.

Under the current broken system, some firearm owners aren’t being held accountable when their firearms are used by children and others in violence. 

We don’t have to ban weapons to better protect people. There are real common ground approaches the majority of Americans have wanted passed in Congress for decades.

We don’t have to have an open door policy to fix our borders and immigration system securely, compassionately, and affordably. There are real common ground approaches the majority of Americans have wanted passed in Congress for decades.

Instead of every group remaining entrenched,

let’s get to work and solve these problems together. 

Aren’t we sick of the partisan bickering, the pundit speculating, and the status quo strangling us all?

I know I am. That’s why I’m running for Congress because I’m sick of both parties doing nothing but make our problems worse.

My objectives are simple.

  • Bring different perspectives to the table
  • Stop kicking the can to the next generation
  • Stop making excuses as to why nothing changes
  • Begin solving our problems together

Nothing great is accomplished in America without us working together. That is how we landed on the Moon, how we stopped Ebola in Africa, and how we’ve been that beacon on the hill for over two centuries.

We’re not perfect, but we strive to become a more perfect union. It’s about time we get back to that hallowed goal.

(Photo Courtesy of Chicago Tribune, Rich Saal/AP)