Term Limits & Lobbying Ban
I strongly believe in term limits for all members of Congress: 12 years (2 terms) for Senators and 10 years (5 terms) for Representatives. We must ban all forms of lobbying from formerly elected federal office-holders. This will help prevent lawmakers from cashing in at the expense of their constituents and all American taxpayers.
Campaign Finance Reform
We must work to overturn the disastrous Citizens United decision. Corporations are not people, and they shouldn’t be able to buy congressmen and women. There is no place for dark money in politics, and we should not be electing people who take one cent from corporations or lobbying groups, and do not disclose where every dollar comes from. Super PACs are just a form of bribery and should have no place in our politics. We need real campaign finance reform, and that includes passing a constitutional amendment to allow Congress and the states to regulate money in political campaigns. We need to stop electing legislators who refuse to be transparent about where their money comes from. We deserve to know if our elected officials are bought and paid for. Public funding for campaigns is the only fair way to ensure all citizens have a chance to run for office.
We have had a lot of success in expanding our rights over this past decade, but our fight is far from over. We still do not have national protections for all LGBTQ people. Therefore, passing the Equality Act, which expands the Civil Rights Act to include protections for gender identity and sexual orientation, must be a priority. LGBTQ citizens should also be protected from any discrimination, including adoption, medical care, military service, or foster parenting. We also need to pass legislation that protects transgender people and their rights as citizens. We must reject any policy or legislation that uses so-called “religious liberty” to discriminate against others. We must continue to be committed to ending discrimination in all forms.
As a farmer, I have been on the front lines of climate change. I have witnessed the destruction the weather has brought to friends’ farms due to flooding or the erosion that happens in our fields. I have also seen the number of diseases and pests skyrocket over this past decade. We must continue the work we have done to create a 21st century green economy by embracing all forms of sustainable energy, and the numerous jobs they create. America should be leading the world in the innovation and manufacturing of green, sustainable technology. Climate change is real, and we must do everything within our power to combat the effects of it, both here in the United States and throughout the world. Acknowledging it exists, so we can help reverse its effects, is imperative to our survival as a species. There is no planet B. We are currently the only country in the world not part of the Paris climate agreement, further weakening our stature as a global leader. To continue this path of denial is not only dangerous to our national security, and infrastructure; it is an abdication of our responsibility and leadership in the world.
We need a sustainable economy that works for all the working people of this country. We have seen the worst period of wage stagnation in our country’s history. While corporations stash trillions overseas and bring in record profits, our country’s minimum wage hasn’t gone up since 2009, and still sits at $7.25 an hour. We need to raise the minimum wage past a starvation wage to $15 an hour for all Americans. Putting more money in the hands of the working class will help lift people out of poverty while stimulating the economy and creating more opportunities for our younger generations.
Student Loan Debt and College Tuition
Our student loan debt is out of control. Students should not have to pay such high interest rates for their student loans after graduation. We need a national law that caps the interest rates for student loans at 3%. If America is to compete globally, we need to invest in our future generations by expanding our financial aid and work study programs, so that many students could receive reduced or free tuition at our public colleges and universities.
Healthcare is a human right, and every American should have access to affordable treatment. This means passing legislation for a universal healthcare system. Think of the anxiety we could eliminate from millions of Americans, if we all knew we would receive dignified healthcare, without the weight of financial hardship.
We need to end pay discrimination against women and pass the Paycheck Fairness Act that ensures all women are paid equally for their work. We must also continue to fight for a women’s right to choose. The choice should always be between a woman and her doctor, and we must keep the government out of personal decisions. We must continue funding for Planned Parenthood, which provides essential healthcare services to millions of women each year. We must also ensure that all women who want birth control can obtain it through their insurance companies with no exemptions, since this is a woman’s right.
We must ensure all Americans who are willing to participate in their democracy can. We have seen voter ID laws that are a directed at suppressing voters in poor and minority communities come into law all across the country, and this must stop. We should expand early voting to all states and make Election Day a federal holiday. We also must implement automatic voter registration so that all Americans will be registered to vote when they turn 18.
Criminal Justice Reform
Today, roughly 2.2 million Americans are in prison, and the majority are from minority communities. We have the largest prison population in the world. The vast expansion of our prison system is a direct result of our nation’s disastrous “War on Drugs,” which overwhelmingly targeted young black men in economically- depressed communities. Too many people are in prison today for minor drug offenses that are better dealt with through diversion and employment training programs. We need to decriminalize marijuana across the entire country and start implementing common sense solutions when it comes to drug offenders. It is time we eliminate mandatory minimum sentences for low-level drug offenders. No one should be profiting from housing inmates in for-profit prisons, and we must do everything we can to reduce our incarceration rate. We need to implement stronger rehabilitation and employment training programs within prisons, so that those who serve their time are better prepared for life on the outside. We also need to work with all states to ensure felons who have served their time are allowed to have their voting rights immediately restored after they are released from prison.