Education has played a very large role in my life and is one of the main reasons I have decided to run for the U.S. House. I have been involved in the education of Missouri youth for many years in a variety of capacities. After college I worked for St. Louis public schools, evaluating teachers and curriculum. Since then, I have taught political science and public policy at Washington University and University of Missouri St. Louis. Three years ago, I co-founded the Confluence Academies, a group of public charter schools that continue to grow and prosper. From my experience in classrooms with students ranging from disadvantaged urban youth to accomplished university academics, I believe that we need a revolution in our education system.
Over 44 million Americans are uninsured. We have more paper-pushing middlemen than doctors and nurses combined (3.6 million to 3.2 million). We spend twice as much on healthcare (as a percentage of our GDP) as other industrialized nations with universal coverage. And our healthcare costs are spiraling out of control, hurting working families and businesses alike. This system is broken and we will have to fix it eventually. Why not start now?
No issues better illustrate the difference between Republicans and Democrats than labor and trade. Simply put, Republicans don't seem to respect anyone who works for anyone else. They can't understand the priorities of a person who wants to provide for his or her family, but isn't willing to stab his or her brother in the back to get there. One of the reasons that I am running for Congress is to stand up to Republicans who equate greediness with godliness and then turn around and belittle the hard work of millions so that a few at the top can become lavishly wealthy.
The continuing campaign to achieve civil rights is an important issue to me. In college I helped lead a movement to build a Black Cultural Center recognizing the slave labor that built the University of North Carolina. In 2000, I co-founded the confluence academies, a charter schools serving predominantly African-American students in North St. Louis. In congress, I will continue to work to achieve social justice.
As a lifelong sympathizer with the struggle to win social, economic, and political justice for women, I unequivocally support women's right to exercise control over their bodies. While I understand that good people disagree on this issue, the women facing an unwanted pregnancy should have ultimate authority over that decision without government intervention.
As Americans we have always lived by an ethos of sacrifice, a means of ensuring that the next generation has a better chance to succeed. Our parents and grandparents lived by this principle. Yet we have now gone tragically off track. Rather than laying the groundwork for the next generation to succeed, our country's leaders are mortgaging our future, burying the young under a mountain of debt.
As a lifelong resident of the St. Louis area, the progress and development of St. Louis is something that is very important to me. While our region's economy is strong, there are many steps we must take to ensure that St. Louis' economy remains strong well into the 21st Century. We have a strong biotechnology industry and must work to strengthen the industry in St. Louis and ensure that it remains an anchor of the region's economy. While the future of St. Louis looks bright, the reduced service to Lambert Field threatens the business community, and our urban core remains underdeveloped compared with the surrounding suburbs.
Environmental issues are critical right now. Not only are we facing crucial decisions in many areas, but we are also facing an administration that has launched an unprecedented assault on the environment and on the policies that protect it.
No discussion of defense policy should begin without first thanking our brave men and women in the armed forces. They have performed exceptionally in Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere. Whatever differences of opinion leaders may have about how our military is used, we must always remember that the policies decided upon by our government have real world effects on the courageously selfless men and women who keep this country secure. I thank them and their families for their sacrifice.
In conducting the war on terrorism, we must never abandon or undermine the basic human rights and civil liberties that form the bedrock of that democracy. Our message to the terrorists must be clear: you will not erode our rule of law.
I believe all Americans are equal under the law. That statement is true whether or not the subject is marriage or the military. Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is the last vestige of America's shameful history of discrimination. We need legislators who understand that equality means there is no room for equivocation.
I believe we should work for sensible gun control policy in Missouri and across the country. The Constitution states that people have the right to bear arms because "a well-regulated militia [is] necessary to the security of a free state," but does not guarantee a constitutional right for individuals to bear any kind of arms in any kind of situation. Recent Supreme Court judgments validate that view.