We have prioritized short-term fixes over long-term solutions for far too long. It’s time to take bold steps forward to protect our environment, build a more just society, and create the more perfect union our founding fathers imagined. As Bobby Kennedy said, “Every generation inherits a world it never made; and, as it does so, it automatically becomes the trustee of that world for those who come after.” We have a moral responsibility not merely to protect the world we have been given, but to create a brighter future for the next generation. These are some of the most important issues we must address, not merely for our own sake, but for our children’s:
Climate change: This is the biggest problem of our time, and it needs to be dealt with seriously. We need to dramatically increase our incentive for clean-energy development, and wean ourselves off coal and oil, by instituting a national carbon tax or a cap-and-trade system similar to Europe’s. The transition to a green economy will not be easy, and it must be done very carefully. But it must be done. If we don’t deal with carbon emissions on a global level, the planet will die. Anyone who is not willing to accept that fundamental truth has no right to call themselves a leader of this country, no matter what office they may hold.
Education: We shouldn’t be investing “a little more” in public schools, we should be investing billions more in public schools. An entire generation of children lacks access to quality education, stacking the deck against them before they’re even old enough to drive. We all benefit from a better-educated population. Better education leads to more productive workers, lower crime, and better health outcomes. It also leads to the great innovations that spur our biggest economic booms. There could be a thousand kids in the 6th District who have Steve Jobs-caliber ideas, but who will never bring those ideas to market because our country did not invest enough in developing their potential. By not properly training our kids and investing in their education, we are wasting their unique gifts and talents, and condemning them to a more difficult life than they deserve. We must do better.
Social justice: Over the course of America’s history, we have, little by little, corrected the great flaws that existed at our founding. And almost all of these flaws stem from one simple failure: that in many instances, we failed to live up to our creed that all our citizens are equally important, and equally entitled to the blessings of our nation’s liberties. When humans were owned by other humans, progressives fought to end that injustice. When women were denied the right to vote, progressives stood up and said that injustice must end, too. We’ve come so far, but still have so far to go. Americans still die because they don’t have access to healthcare. Women only earn 78% of what men earn for the same work. Jails are filled with minorities targeted because of their race. Wherever a child can’t read, a voter can’t vote, or a police officer is given a slap on the wrist after killing an unarmed civilian, progressives will be there. Progress isn’t about moving the country forward too quickly. It’s about justice. It’s about correcting the wrongs we’ve tolerated in this country for too long. And the work must continue. Passing the Paycheck Fairness Act and eliminating for-profit prisons would be two of my top priorities in Congress.
Student loan reform: The current student debt load on the U.S. economy is higher than the mortgage debt burden was at the peak of the housing crisis. That means we’re in danger of another financial collapse. We need to protect students from high interest rates and provide more income-based repayment plans, ensuring students are actually able to pay their debts. We also need to make trade schools and community colleges free, which creates more options for those preparing to enter the workforce and also lowers the demand for -- and the cost of -- four-year colleges and universities. We need to reward students who seek higher education, not condemn them to a lifetime of debt.
Paid for and Authorized by Ryan Huffman for Congress.