Many Americans think our democracy doesn't work for them. We can change that.
If we had an official, national misery index, my guess is, it would be fairly high due to the high cost of living, the toxic political environment, mental illness and substance abuse, ecological crises and a political establishment that offers up the same tired political actors and the same bankrupt policies.
As a political science professor, lawyer, former congressional and legal reporter, and former manager with the National Park Service, I understand how Washington functions and why policies enacted in Washington too often hurt working people.
The largest corporations and the wealthiest people drive economic, health care and environmental policy to benefit their interests, even as they pretend to support "free markets" and "limited government." That needs to change.
We need politicians willing to go off the same tired partisan scripts. We need creativity and commitment to lowering that misery index. That is the sort of elected official I would seek to be.
Strengthening Rural Communities
Rural communities have needs that are at times distinct from those of urban areas. In Colorado, rural counties often experience lower incomes than urban areas, lack access to health care, and experience mental health and substance abuse without access to treatment. Behind those facts are lives burdened by unnecessary struggle and at times suffering and even early death. For example, residents of Douglas County have an average life expectancy of 83, but residents of Otero County live, on average, 72.3 years, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. Rural residents also experience more food insecurity than do urban residents. This is particularly true in the northern and southern regions of the district. Addressing these disparities is central to my candidacy and the top priority for my first 90 days in office. Doing so will require understanding, with community guidance, whether existing federal programs provide enough support and whether the process for getting the funds is burdensome or impractical.
Fighting Inflation and Unfair Tax Policies
Americans are taking on record credit card debt and paying record amounts of interest to sustain their households. Rising interest rates and Inflation aren't random or inevitable. They stem from market forces and decisions made by Congress, the president, and, of course, the Federal Reserve, which has raised interest rates to slow inflation. Congress should continue to examine the causes of inflation, such as the role of supply chains, spending on the Ukraine war, Covid relief payments, and the Federal Reserve's program of propping up investment holdings post 2008. Congress should be providing tax relief to middle- and lower-income people who are being punished for a problem that they didn't create. In my first 90-days in office I will support or draft legislation to tax windfall corporate profits in the oil and gas industry and other industries that are raising prices to generate higher profits. I will scrutinize mergers such as the Albertson's/Kroger merger that would leave consumers with less choice and give Kroger more market control. And, I would examine whether the Federal Trade Commission is doing enough to control practices that deceive consumers who see products shrink even as prices incrase.
Protecting our air, land and water
Although federal environmental laws are important to setting standards for protecting air, water and land, many, if not most, decisions that harm the environment are made at the state and local level. Developers convert open space and farmland to subdivisions, or buy up water rights to support developments in other parts of the state. And projects like Xcel Energy's Power Pathway project will string enormous powerlines across the eastern plains, for the purpose of advancing "renewable energy." As a member of Congress, I would be deeply skeptical of projects like Xcel's Power Pathway. Solar and wind power are not renewable or efficient, though they may be useful in some places or on a small scale. Protecting lands and forests that absorb carbon, reducing energy consumption, discouraging car-dependent urban sprawl and relying more on mass transit in urban areas, are more effective ways of protecting the earth and addressing climate change. These are the policies I would support. As a member of Congress, I will challenge the assumption that expansion of wind and solar will reduce carbon in the atmosphere or otherwise protect the earth. I do so not as a supporter of fossil fuels or any other industry, but because my decades-long research in this area has convinced me that "green energy" is an oxymoron, and that fossil fuel use is inevitable for the foreseeable future. I wish there were ecologically- friendly ways to use energy, but there are none. As such, we would be wise to focus on reducing our use and protecting the earth's ability to absorb carbon.
I'm a Kentucky native who has lived in Colorado from 1969 to 1972 and from 1978 to present, save for 1992, when I worked as a reporter covering Congress. For the last 15 years I have lived in Elbert County, and just a few miles from my childhood home in Douglas County. I have always loved the eastern plains. Meadowlarks singing in the spring. Yuccas flowering in June. The sunrises and sunsets. Subtle, yet breathtaking beauty. I am grateful to reside here. I want to contribute to the well-being of my neighbors, near and far. And my professional experience seems useful to that task. As a journalist, professor, and lawyer, I have spent most of my adult life thinking about the problems facing our country, about reducing injustice, ending unnecessary suffering, and protecting our planet for future generations. Yet the root of most of our policy failures is a political system corrupted by special interest influence and the excessive control that the wealthiest people and corporations wield over our society. I don't believe that any political system is perfect or could be made so. But I believe we can do far better. And more democracy is the answer.