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.

Advertisements

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. 

U.S. Constitution Under Attack

When a sitting President of the United States is advocating that he can by Executive Order arbitrarily repeal any amendment of the U.S. Constitution, you’d think you’re watching a movie. However, you’d be watching current events in the current midterm election.


I would never stand for any President repealing the 2nd Amendment, so why would any Republican or Democratic voter stand for President Trump doing the same to the 14th Amendment?
There comes a time in every generation where we have to decide what our country stands for and against.
We have been a nation that has been governed by our Constitution. Our nation was built upon Native American cultures by immigrant populations. Are we going to deny our history and our inclusive culture to satisfy a divisive and derisive ploy that is both unconstitutional and against our American values?


We do have a choice in this election. Are we going to vote for rubber stamps and lemmings or for a voice of the people, for our district, for our constitutional rights, and for an economy that works for everyone, not just campaign donors?


We can protect our borders and honor our American Constitution and values without dividing the country along cultural and racial lines. It’s called working together to solve our problems.
We work best as a country and a community when we work together.
Our best days are ahead of us.

Gaither Speaks Out on Ballot Referendum

I had the opportunity to speak out on the Coles County Board referendum on the Second Amendment. Thankfully, four of our elected officials decided to put county over party. That takes guts in a party that increasingly puts party over country. Seven that are or will be running for re-election decided to bow down.
 
My position on the Second Amendment has remained consistent.
I will never support legislation that bans firearms.
What we must do is hold people accountable.
 
This referendum was requested to be placed on the ballot by the Coles County Republican Party. They are the masters of most of our local county officials because those officials delivered tonight.
 
The Republicans need this ballot referendum because they have no positive agenda or results on which to run this November. 
  • Trillion dollar deficits for the next decade
  • Mounting national debt
  • Increasing out-of-pocket healthcare costs
  • Increasing prices
  • Decreasing wages
  • Crumbling infrastructure with no plan to fix it
  • Increasing conflict with allies and trade partners

The Illinois Constitution is clear. Any referendum by a county shall be adopted by the County Board.

Here is the language of this referendum.

”Should the Illinois General Assembly pass legislation protecting a citizen’s right to bear arms as defined by the 2nd Amendment of the United States Constitution?”

It is impossible to adopt this referendum because the question is about the General Assembly doing something, not the County Board.
Do we really want Cook County to make policy for Coles County?
I doubt that very much, but the current leadership of the Coles County Board is opening that door.
 

We need leaders, not lemmings.

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.

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.