END MONEY IN POLITICS
Corporations and other big-monied interests have blatantly purchased our government officials through campaign contributions, independent expenditures, and lobbying, which is tantamount to legalized bribery. We must go further than the repeal of Citizens United and create a public financing system that incentivizes politicians to work for the many, not the few. Special interests have captured our democracy at the expense of the American people, and without major reform, inequality and instability in America will continue to build.
END INCOME INEQUALITY
Recent low unemployment is undercut by decades of wage stagnation that has created a widening gap between the wealthy and poor in America. In 1989, the bottom 90 percent of Americans controlled 33.2 percent of US wealth. In 2013, it fell to 24.7 percent. The top 1 percent’s wealth rose from 29.9 percent to 36.3 percent. The top 0.1 percent’s wealth rose from 11.5 percent to 22 percent. Powerful institutions have accumulated this money through worker exploitation, tax evasion, and lobbying, and they need to start contributing a fair share of wealth back to the system that allowed them to profit off of it. We also need to support strong unions and raise the minimum wage of workers to $15 per hour.
MEDICARE FOR ALL
Every American has a constitutional right to life, liberty, and property. Health is not a matter that should be dependent upon the free market. As the wealthiest nation in the world, the United States has an obligation to guarantee the health of its citizens. Every modernized country in the world provides healthcare to its people, and the U.S. must denounce special interest money from healthcare industries and prioritize the health and well-being of the nation.
GREEN NEW DEAL
Scientists are clear. We have 12 years to curb carbon emissions to avoid the worst effects of climate change, and historically, effects of climate change take place faster than the models predict. We need radical change in energy policy and it’s becoming clear which lawmakers are demanding action. Those who push for lackadaisical half-measures in the wake of this threat to humanity amount to climate deniers. Pushing for ambitious reforms shouldn’t be stopped because of perceived unattainability; they should be celebrated for setting goals that solve the problems that we face. It’s about how far we can get if we try, and it’s clear that the majority of lawmakers currently do not want to try. The influence of money in politics is a plague to energy reform as many of our lawmakers take oil industry money over the future of life on Earth. Just 100 companies are responsible for 70 percent of carbon emissions and the United States’ emissions jumped up 3.4 percent in 2018. This is a dire emergency that requires strong, expeditious change. We need THE Green New Deal. Social Justice is economic justice.
EDUCATION FOR ALL
Fully funding public education can create endless benefits for our country. Funding K through 12 and public college creates equality of opportunity that can end the cycle of poverty in America. There are over 44 million student loan borrowers in the U.S. and student loan debt currently outnumbers credit card debt. Wiping out student loan debt would boost an entire generation’s ability to spend and invest in themselves and our economy. We need to shift our priorities away from wealthy tax cuts and overinflated military spending and invest in our future. Living in a society with a well-informed, educated public creates a stronger democracy for everyone.
HOUSING FOR ALL
The amount of homeless in America has increased for the second year in a row with more than half a million people living in shelters, transitional housing, or on the streets. Stagnant wages and inflated housing costs have created a system in which working class Americans are working two or three jobs just to pay their bills. If the United States has the ability to provide shelter to all citizens, it has a responsibility to do so. There are roughly 18 million vacant homes in the U.S. Scarcity is a choice, and we choose to keep those people in harsh conditions. Living in poverty takes a physical and mental toll on the body. Overcrowding, noise, substandard housing, separation from parents, exposure to violence, financial stress, and other trademarks of poverty are toxic to the brain and impede cognitive function. We need to empathize with our fellow Americans and understand this is not a situation that the profit-motives of capitalism can solve. Working hard should provide you with the luxuries that our country has to offer, but sleeping with a roof over your head is a necessity. Americans need the right to housing.
STOP THE OPIOID CRISIS
The last 20 years has seen skyrocketing drug overdose deaths with more than 70,000 in 2017. In 2019, for the first time in U.S. history, people are more likely to die from opioid overdoses than from car crashes. The sharpest increases in overdoses are among fentanyl/fentanyl analogs. This is can be attributed to the rampant sale of drugs by pharmaceutical companies. CNN and Harvard researchers showed a correlation between money that drug companies paid to doctors and the numbers of opioids they prescribed to their patients. This should be recognized as bribery. We also need to ban the direct marketing of opioids to consumers as is the case in other modern countries. While we can take into consideration that a percentage of drugs are smuggled into the U.S., it’s important to note that even the highest estimates of notorious drug trafficker El Chapo’s fortune is $21 billion less than Purdue Pharma. The U.S. makes up 5 percent of the world’s population, but we take 30 percent of the world’s opioids (75 percent of the world’s oxycodone and 99 percent of hydrocodone). This is an emergency that receives less attention than it deserves, and it will only get worse without legislative action.
BRING OUR TROOPS HOME
Congress has not used its constitutional power to formally issue a declaration of war since 1941, but according to Forbes, the United States deployed Special Forces to 70 percent of the world in 2016, ranging in operations from kill-capture to training local forces. The U.S has been in Iraq for 16 years and Afghanistan for 18 years, and they cost the U.S. between $4 trillion and $6 trillion. We’ve lost thousands of U.S. troops, tens of thousands of allied troops and, hundreds of thousands of civilians, and we’ve displaced tens of millions. Given our government’s removal from the Iran Deal when they did not breach terms, continued Saudi-backing in the war on Yemen, open advocacy for Venezuelan regime change so we can steal their natural resources, and long history of interventionism in foreign nations, we must bring our troops home to reign in U.S. imperialism. Our presence in foreign nations fosters resentment toward the United States as we export weapons and occupy countries, and we must shift our resources to helping the American people instead for the military industrial complex.
SUPPORT IMMIGRATION | ABOLISH ICE
We support immigration as a vehicle for increased economic growth and cultural diversity in America. The modern attacks against immigrants are clear attempts to fear-monger and distract from real threats to the country that include the legalized bribery of our lawmakers by wealthy special interests. We support border protection to keep Americans safe from external threats, but immigration is far from an emergency. Immigration Customs and Enforcement was created post-9/11 in tandem with the Patriot Act; ICE, housed in the Department of Homeland Security, views immigrants as threats to the country. Given their repeated mistreatment of immigrants in their custody, despicable tactics used to capture those suspected of undocumented immigration, and the imprisonment of thousands of immigrant and asylum-seeking children, many of whom may never see their parents again, ICE must be abolished. Border security will be left in the hands of U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
ENACT COMMON SENSE GUN SAFETY LAWS
We need to enact common sense gun safety laws to begin saving American lives from massive gun violence that kills over 30,000 people annually. Special interest money and influence have rendered our lawmakers incapable of protecting the American public and passing common sense gun reform. Congress’ Dickey Amendment limits federal resources used to research gun violence, making it more difficult to study guns and the causation of gun violence. In 2017, Congress revoked an Obama-era regulatory initiative making it harder for people with mental illness to buy a gun. They also refuse to pass legislation requiring universal background checks even though 97 percent of Americans and over 70 percent of NRA members support it. Lawmakers allow the continued slaughter of American lives every year as they put their personal interests ahead of their constituents. We need proper gun safety training, gun registration, mandatory insurance, and to close the gun show and private sales loopholes by requiring a background check for every gun sale no matter what.
Thanks to waves of dedicated activists fighting for change, the U.S. has progressed on gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender issues, women's rights, and civil liberties, but not without challenges. The Trump administration has brought a new wave of attacks on marginalized communities, and we need to advocate for progressive policy that encourages diversity, equity, and inclusion. We can support inclusive policies through worker's rights, equal pay, comprehensive healthcare, criminal justice reform, and further anti-discriminatory policy. Social, racial, and economic justice cannot exist without each other.
END PRIVATE PRISONS
This is one of the most despicable practices in America, though the competition is fierce. They claim to save the government money, but private prisons lower operating costs by hiring fewer employees and paying and training them less. Inmate-on-inmate assaults are 28 percent higher than in federal facilities and inmate-on-staff assaults more than double. They also fail to provide proper medical care, and can reject prisoners with severe illnesses or histories of violence. The two largest for-profit prison companies in the U.S. and their associates have given more than $10 million to political candidates since 1989 and have spent almost $25 million on lobbying efforts. Private prisons are allowed to lobby Congress. Not for the safety of the American public. Not for justice or rehabilitation. They lobby to lock people in cages and take away their freedom for money.
CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM
We currently have a two-tier criminal justice system that disproportionately harms poor and minority communities. Fixing this system requires top-down reforms that include new policies ranging from ending cash bail to re-training our law enforcement officers with new de-escalation tactics and racial bias training. We also need to release those incarcerated for low-level drug offenses and other lower-level nonviolent offenders. It’s time to treat all Americans as people who need to be protected, not policed.