Discussing Politics and Religion

Throughout my life, I’ve found it curious when people would state unequivocally that we simply could not discuss politics and religion in public.

When American culture agreed to this pact, our society and country suffered for it. There should be no reason we cannot discuss issues important to the lives of our families, communities and country without it descending into a disrespectful shouting match.

If something isn’t working out for the best interests of most people, I’ve simply been unable to remain on the sidelines accepting that failing status quo. 

This is why I so often have stood up, said and done what I felt was necessary, especially when it came to the intersection of politics and religion. Growing up in the Midwest and rural America, there is no escaping either. 

Since I was young, I’ve seen one party take over this region while the other appeared to walkaway. 

Due to the erosion in how both politics and religion are discussed, sustained progress in tackling our toughest challenges has become nearly impossible.

Why is it that the most crucial issues are often championed by the most polarizing figures in America and often in the most divisive ways? 

Who wants to get behind a candidate that is for a comprehensive set of solutions to address this complex array of problems?

It’s far easier to use simplistic talking points designed to gain attention instead of practical, pragmatic messages. 

Social issues are complex and often are used to keep voting blocks coming back to political parties. They do this with little regard to local economic issues nor the willingness to discuss the negative consequences on public health and wellbeing by pushing this monolithic social agenda.

Who wants to hear a nuanced position on key issues that inspire intense emotional reactions in order to have a discussion about how to produce beneficial results for community and family?

It’s far easier to force people into choosing to be against someone so they don’t feel they have any other alternatives.

This is why many special interest groups create political candidate questionnaires that are devoid of nuance and designed to focus voters in the ‘for or against’ paradigm.

Over my lifetime, I’ve been blessed to have many discussions with others about both politics and religion. It’s actually a pleasure to listen to someone with a different perspective. I’ve always been skeptical of “Yes” people. No one can really agree on everything. 


That’s why the way in which some on the far left behave is so counterproductive. There’s no room to have a vigorous and thoughtful discussion on any issue. 

You see similar behavior on the far right, which has nearly engulfed the entire Republican Party. 

I’ve watched AOC celebrate ending 25,000 jobs, which is painful while longtime Republicans have backpedaled on American tradition and our U.S. Constitution, all for the sake of political expedience in support of President Trump and their own re-election.


The vast majority of people aren’t in the extreme wings of either political party. They stay mostly silent because to speak up means to become the new target of one or both extremes. 

Each election cycle the party in power will try and pit the other as the most radical and extreme as to sway those in the middle that their side is with them.

This is why Republicans will focus on socialism and abortion rights through 2020 to keep their voters and independents from seeing Democrats as a reasonable alternative. 

Wouldn’t it be far better to have an election based on what candidates want to do if elected instead of one based on fear and anxiety?

If we’re ever able to move this country forward for all her people, we have to be able to discuss the issues that matter to each of us in a realistic way.

It might not be something we’re accustomed to doing, but it is something we need to become comfortable in doing for the sake of the country, our communities and our families.

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A Campaign About People and Policies

This campaign was about people and policies for an economy that works for everyone, education that prepares our children for the jobs of today and tomorrow, and a healthcare system that is both affordable and accessible for our residents. 

Despite coming up short in votes during this election, the message we delivered resonated with voters across the 33 counties of the 15th District. Party loyalty and money remain stubborn forces in American politics. 

If we’re ever to dig out of the morass that our district finds itself within, we must see beyond party.

We must work to be rid of big money in our political system as it is as corrosive as it is deafening.

I urge all elected officials to make themselves as accessible to their constituents as possible. Being afraid to show up and answer the tough questions isn’t an excuse when you’ve been hired to do the job that the public is paying you to do.

We have to have tough conversations and be able to hear from those that feel they have profound disagreements with us. How can we live in a country where hearing something you don’t agree with prompts you to make threats of violence?

Our country must start working together.

That means we’re all part of the solution which is a sustaining force in our lives. 

Social Security Fairness Act

When we work in America, we make a contract with Social Security and Medicare that earns us benefits throughout our lives and into our retirement.

It is critical that we protect and strengthen these programs for all Americans. Some professions, public sector jobs, and the military in some states and throughout America are treated differently, leading to a breach of that contract.

If you or your spouse pay into Social Security and Medicare, you should be able to receive those spousal benefits regardless of where you’ve worked. Teachers and their spouses in Illinois, however, are getting screwed because of the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) and the Government Pension Offset (GPO). 

Under the WEP and GPO, workers who have paid into Social Security and Medicare have their spousal benefits dramatically cut, sometimes eliminating their Medicare coverage late in life when their spouse passes away. We must protect these spousal benefits for all Americans because these are earned benefits. It’s the right thing to do.


I would support the Social Security Fairness Act of 2017, which has broad bipartisan support. It’s one of the areas where my opponent and I are in agreement.

Unfortunately for our teachers and spouses, this bill has been sitting in the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Social Security since March of 2017. It is not even listed on the Subcommittee’s website as a bill introduced in the 115th Congress, so the GOP is not serious about solving this problem.

That is why we need a Congress that will move this legislation forward instead of letting it die in a subcommittee for over a year and a half.

I will push for this reform as your representative and voice in Washington.

Early Childhood Education

Early Childhood Education is the key for our nation’s economic future.

If we don’t create equity in the early education system in the 15th District, many of our communities will never catch up in the modern global economy. We all know that funding education through property taxes is a failing policy for businesses and families alike. Rural school districts suffer while booming communities are able to fund robust education programs. Our children deserve better. 


The reality is that our brain develops the most dramatically in the first years of life. Therefore, the federal focus must be directed where it can do the most good.

If we don’t give every child in America the same solid foundation, we’re shortchanging not only their future, but the future of their family, their community, and our country.


This year in yet another massive Omnibus Bill, more funding was secured for a few early education programs, but not nearly enough focused where the need is most. We need funding, teachers, support staff, and facilities for preschool through 2nd grade. This is where many of our rural communities are falling behind, forced to increase class sizes, layoff support staff, and rely on a ‘hope for the best’ mentality with the dedicated teachers that remain.

In Illinois, a day care provider can only care for 8 children on their own. Meanwhile, teachers care for 15, 20, 30 and more children at a time and are required to educate them in 50 minutes. How does this disparity make sense?


Through more consistent, dedicated funding sources for early education, local school districts will be able to reallocate these funds and resources toward curriculum focused on education and training for better paying jobs in their region.

Vocational programs, training programs, and increased dual credit courses from local community colleges and universities will give students more options. 

A greater percentage of federal education grants should go directly to local school districts instead of block grants to the states. This will help avoid waste and administrative costs while giving property tax relief locally. The goal is to give our local school districts more control, creating more of a role for the public to engage directly with their school boards, teachers, and administration.

We have to forge better community relationships that bring back accountability, trust, and results. 


Finally, food insecurity is an increasing problem throughout the 15th District and rural America. As wages continue to stagnate and bills increase, especially in the face of rising tariffs while Congress sits on the sidelines, working families putting food on the table is a serious concern. As a result, children come to school hungry, making it difficult to learn. Programs like the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) have been filling the gap.

We should increase funding to CACFP, offering more locally sourced meal programs through our schools for our children throughout the year. This can help offset SNAP program cuts that will likely be in the Farm Bill this year so that American’s children and their education and nutritional needs don’t suffer at the hands of Congress. It will also create jobs and boost family farms.


Early Education is the foundation on which a child’s future is built. With a renewed American investment in our children, we will better compete in a global economy, halt the brain drain, and bring better paying jobs back to the 15th District. This is what having a broad, generational vision can bring to America. It is long overdue.

Representation Not Abdication

Illinois is mentioned in the recent indictments of 12 Russian intelligence agents. Meanwhile, our Republican House delegation remains silent on Russian interference in our elections, even though Illinois’ voters were targeted.
Rep. Shimkus continues to abdicate his constitutional responsibilities to protect and defend our country from external and internal threats.
He, along with the rest of Congress, are also abdicating their constitutional responsibilities of regulating trade with foreign Nations. This is threatening our downstate and southern Illinois economy. 
We need a pro-active representative that listens and interacts with their constituents, that engages with both workers and business owners, and that tackles the big issues instead of leaving problems for the next generation.
I will be the representative that listens, interacts, engages, and tackles.
We can’t wait any longer.
In 21 years Rep. Shimkus has held ZERO Town Halls. In only two months I’ve held two while answering questions and engaging voters from every background across the 15th District.
It’s about time that downstate rediscovered what representation is supposed to be.
It’s about you and our communities, not about your party. It certainly should not be about filling up the campaign war chest so a representative doesn’t bother with answering tough questions from voters.
I will be the representative that will show up, stand up, and speak out for you.
Waiting two decades is way too long to wait for real representation.

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.

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.