Gary Wegman’s responses to Candidate Questionnaire
Below are Gary Wegman’s responses to the Lancaster Stands Up candidate questionnaire. Click here to see all of the PA-16 congressional candidates’ responses together.
The Affordable Care Act has dramatically reduced the number of uninsured individuals, but that doesn’t mean that the law was perfectly designed. When my husband was diagnosed with cancer in 2013, it was our participation in health insurance marketplace that that gave us the opportunity and the resources to have his illness treated effectively. We need to protect, enhance, and expand the Affordable Care Act, and I will legislate common sense solutions to increase quality and cost-effectiveness, such as expanding access and addressing market distortions that result from government negotiated drug prices as we work towards universal healthcare.
In the 21st Century, I believe every American has the right to healthcare. I say this from having more than 34 years of experience as a healthcare provider, and I am the only healthcare professional running for this seat in the 16th District. I have been working with an economic team that is developing a publicly funded (single payer) but privately administered healthcare plan.
We are a compassionate people, and we should never deny anyone healthcare services when they arrive at a hospital in need of care. Unfortunately, not only do we have unequal access to healthcare services, we also have an uneven distribution of who pays for this care in America. We also have a lot of disincentives for seeking preventive services, and/or for seeking out care in a timely manner, before circumstances worsen and become more costly, and with a less desirable outcome.
The current system has benefited our hospital and private health insurance industries greatly. The Big Pharma industry has also profited handsomely, and therefore each of these entities must be brought under the negotiated reimbursement of this new system we can call Medicare for All.
At present, I would also fight to reinstate CHIP (the Children's Health Insurance Program), which was working well for people, but is presently not funded by this existing Congress. Please reference my September 26 post on healthcare, and my video on October 12.
It isn’t right that in the richest country on Earth, 28 million Americans live without health insurance. We pay more for health care than any other industrialized country, but have worse health outcomes across the board. We can change that. We can pass Medicare-for-All and ensure that every American, no matter how rich or poor, has medical care. Health care must be recognized as a right, not a privilege.
We need to continue protecting Obamacare. Our nation is better off because nearly 20 million more Americans have health insurance and insurance companies can’t raise our premiums because of a pre-existing condition.
But Obamacare is not enough. It was a compromise with the big insurance and pharmaceutical companies who wanted to maintain a complicated, private healthcare system that made them millions of dollars. We can do better.
We can create a system of guaranteed, lifetime health insurance by expanding Medicare to all Americans. Imagine what small businesses could do if they weren’t pouring tens of thousands of dollars into managing their employees' medical plans. Imagine what our families could do if we didn’t pay thousands of dollars in premiums each year. I have written publicly in support of Medicare-for-All describing my vision and held a town hall outside Rep. Smucker’s office.
I support comprehensive immigration reform and will advocate for common sense changes to our system, including a pathway to citizenship for aspiring Americans. Providing a pathway to citizenship would benefit the economy, stabilize the wages of all workers, and protect immigrant workers from poor and dangerous working conditions.
Undocumented immigrants who are contributing to our society as tax payers, students, and those who have not been identified as security threats or who have no criminal history either within or outside of the United States, should be expedited in this legislative process and allowed a path to citizenship by stepping to the back of the line of those who are attempting to enter the US legally. Those with a criminal history in other countries and those with outstanding criminal warrants in other countries should have their cases reviewed to determine the merits of the case and adjudicated accordingly.
We don't understand the circumstances that have driven these individuals and families to desire to enter America. Crime and political abuse of power are prevalent in our world, and we need to be sensitive to this reality as we determine how best to process the appropriate response to these undocumented individuals who may have been fleeing some very dangerous and horrific circumstances. We need creative and humble minds involved in crafting a new Immigration Bill in America.
My goal would be to attempt to create a process whereby anyone who desires to enter America, and who is not a security threat and does not have a violent or criminal history, would be able to participate in a fair and reasonable entrance visa process, regardless of country of origin. See my post from September 5 for my thoughts on the DACA issue.
Yes. As always, people move to seek a better life for themselves and their families. Our immigrant brothers and sisters came here for the promise of freedom and opportunity. Policies that violate a person’s right to remain in their community damage the freedom we all cherish. That’s why we must protect DREAMers, and create a fair pathway to citizenship for all who call America home. We must end cruel detainment and deportation policies that tear families apart and rob our community of our friends and neighbors. We must transform our immigration system to recognize that America belongs to all who call it home.
As residents of South-Central Pennsylvania, we can be an example to the nation of what it looks like to build prosperous, diverse communities. Pennsylvania's 16th District is home to a growing population of immigrants and refugees. Already, Lancaster leads the nation in number of refugees resettled per capita. In my work at ASSETS, I supported refugee small business owners and businesses like the Stroopie Company whose main goal is to hire more refugees. I know firsthand that welcoming our immigrants brothers and sisters makes our democracy stronger. I will continue to speak out on behalf of refugees and immigrants when the Trump administration attacks our communities. And I will welcome Puerto Ricans moving here in the aftermath of Maria and fight for debt relief and investment in the island’s infrastructure.
Lancaster, Chester, and Berks counties are known for their strong small businesses and a culture of entrepreneurship. We want to see these businesses grow and encourage everyone to take part. Businesses, schools, and local government—our largest employers—need job-ready employees with the skills that match their industries. We need to eliminate tax breaks for corporations that outsource jobs and provide tax incentives to small businesses, creating more jobs here at home. I will work tirelessly to expand vocational and training opportunities, as well as to raise the minimum wage in a way that does not adversely impact local small businesses.
Economic inequality stems from educational inequality, and I would make education our nation's number one priority. Economic policy, foreign policy, environmental policy, immigration policy, etc. all follow from a strong foundation and emphasis on empowering our citizens with the strongest educational ethic and institutions possible. And this starts with Pre-K.
Structural school funding reforms are key to this process. As a congressional leader, I will work to implement mandatory funding for Pre-K educational programs across the country. We also need to have our best and brightest desire to be educators again, and to adequately compensate educators and fund public schools.
The unequal funding of our public schools has led to higher urban dropout rates, and to the further economic segregation of our population. The poor continue to be driven down further, and the wealthier students who have benefited from a quality education must still carry the rest of their peers on their backs, and deal with all of the consequences that result when people are disenfranchised via a substandard educational process. America's current educational policy is counterproductive to what I view as a number one priority: an educated citizenry. See why I believe education matters by viewing my November 22, 2017 post.
I believe that decades of rewriting the rules of government to favor the top 1% has been a disaster for working families in the United States. From allowing Wall Street and corporate monopolies to consolidate power, undercutting the power of labor unions, and suppressing wages, the policies of the corporate establishment in both parties must be reversed.
I decided to run for Congress because I was sick and tired of working my heart out for ordinary Pennsylvanians, only to watch all of us fall further behind. We need to level the playing field for working families, instead of allowing the biggest corporations to dominate the market. We need to enforce antitrust laws to break up monopolies, rein in Wall Street, and give small businesses a fair shot.
We need to defeat tax bills that fund a massive giveaway to multimillionaires and multinational corporations and reform the tax system so that the rich can’t take more than their fair share, including taxing capital gains more than we tax the multi-millionaire’s secretary.
We must recognize that all work has value and all working people have rights. We need to raise the minimum wage, as I have advocated for locally, and make it easier, not harder, for workers to join a union.
Together, we can create a fair economy for all of us, not just the wealthy and well-connected in Washington.
My campaign will begin by acknowledging that America's problems with racial injustice are alive and still prevalent. Recognizing this reality, and taking clear steps to disconnect racism from the "not acceptable, but tolerated" mindset will be just the beginning of my efforts to turn our nation's dialogue on this issue toward a more positive outcome.
The YouTube "$100 Wins The Race" video should be must see viewing for all. Beverly Tatum's "Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria" should also be on everyone's must read list. This message is important for all Americans, because we only succeed individually if our entire nation is pulling together. The politics of division may have worked to help elect our current president and some members of Congress, but it is a disaster when you have to build working coalitions to govern--coalitions that include very diverse groups of people and agendas.
Leadership by example is key. Only then can the hard work of empowering our students of color--by sustainably funding PreK and ESL programs for school students, as well as night schools for our adult populations who need this hand up--can have a fighting chance at success. With what we need to accomplish in government, addressing racism and its divisive effect on our population will be an essential legislative goal for my work in Congress. See my November 1 post on this issue.
In August, I joined a vigil outside Rep. Smucker’s office to honor Heather Heyer, the young woman who lost her life standing up against racism in Charlottesville. It’s important that we always speak out against the grave dangers posed by resurgent white supremacy. It’s also essential we take responsibility as leaders to heal the deep wounds of racism in this nation.
If elected to Congress, I will represent the communities of color that I have lived in for my entire adult life as well as the rural community I was raised in. I will call out white supremacy and will fight for policies that move our nation towards justice and reconciliation, including:
- The Voting Rights Advancement Act (HR. 2978) to restore the full power of the Voting Rights Act and protect African-Americans, and all Americans, from measures that seek to disenfranchise them.
- Legislation to reduce the mass incarceration and over-policing of African-Americans, including but not limited the bipartisan Sentencing & Reform Act (HR. 3713),
- Legislation to form a National Truth & Reconciliation Commission for the purpose of righting injustices and inequities resulting from slavery, Jim Crow, and all forms of institutionalized racial discrimination.
- Legislation to create jobs and wealth in communities impacted by decades of racial and economic discrimination, which I have advocated for in Lancaster.
Gender or gender identity must become a non-issue, just as race must become a non-issue. Gender justice begins at home where much can be positively communicated by action, rather than through words alone. My wife and I have co-parented our children for the past 21 years. We each work full time jobs and value and respect each other's efforts as we work together to raise American children in the 21st Century. We have two daughters and a son, and we have taught them to speak up for their beliefs, and to not hesitate to call out injustice when encountered in their lives.
We want our children to inherit a world whereby it doesn't matter what your gender or gender identity is; where equal pay is given for equal work; where people are judged for their deeds and accomplishments, not their gender. For 34 years I have worked hard to create meaningful employment for the coworkers on my team at my dental office, and at our vineyard/farm. We have never discriminated based upon any criteria other than the need for a strong work ethic, and have encouraged our peers to act similarly. On a broader level, the successes we have achieved in integrating women into the dental field over my lifetime as a practicing dentist in Pennsylvania are a testament to our ability to remove gender and gender identity from public conversation. Like racism before it, gender justice may well benefit from Federal Law, and I will work with my colleagues in Congress to develop this legislation.
Women have a right to pursue our dreams, take care of our families, and make our own decisions about our bodies. At ASSETS, I co-founded the Women’s Business Center to move Lancaster towards parity for women in business. In Congress, we must pass federal legislation to ensure pay equity for women, comprehensive paid family leave, access to affordable child care, and guarantee that survivors of domestic violence have a safe place to go.
- Full funding for women’s health: Empowering women means investing in an economy that works for all of us and our families. We must fully fund for women’s health centers like Planned Parenthood, expand access to crucial family planning services, and ensure that abortion is a last resort.
- Comprehensive paid family leave: While the Family Medical Leave Act provides parents with 12 weeks of unpaid time-off, only three states - CA, NY, and NJ - guarantee paid time off for eligible workers. We need a national paid, time-off plan, modeled after the success of those states.
- Defending and expanding funding for domestic violence shelters: Hundreds of women a day in PA are turned away from domestic violence shelters. No woman should have to stay in an abusive household because domestic violence shelters aren’t funded.
My work on the Women’s Business Center in the LNP: "Why Lancaster Needs A Women's Business Center"
As some of the fastest growing counties in the state, one of our biggest challenges is balancing sustainability of our farmland with our economic and population growth. Our bountiful farmland has been the key to our success for hundreds of years. As stewards of this land, we must protect and support our farmland to ensure that it is here for future generations. I will enact legislation with a critical and careful eye toward the pressures that could lead to further deterioration of this land, including pipeline development and big business growth. To be true to our heritage, we must make responsible land decisions while balancing the needs of our economy and I will work to make sure it grows in a sustainable way.
Energy policy is a national security imperative. As such, the use of fossil fuels to service our energy needs must transition to renewable sources in our lifetimes. We need to do this for health, environmental, and economic reasons, in addition to national security reasons. My allegiance will be to my planet, and to my constituents. A scientific "vetting" to guide "a responsible fracking process" of Marcellus Shale Gas -- to demonstrate conclusively that the toxic and carcinogenic chemicals used in this process will not cause harm -- has not occurred. It must happen.
My opposition to the Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline is because it is a symptom of our problem, which is because our fossil fuel extraction and delivery systems are not presently required to be "science-based", so as to minimize the risk of harm to us or our planet. In terms of carbon, as humans, we only can directly control about 1/3 of the carbon emissions that affect our planet, but we have 100% control over who legislates the regulations that oversee the fossil fuel producers. It is time that We the People use our votes to take back control over the direction our planet is evolving. Please see my comments on the VoteClimatePa16's Website "Candidates on Climate" page.
America belongs to all of us. Our area’s agricultural heritage keeps our community strong and prosperous. Fracked gas pipelines threaten our land and water just so a few oil and gas executives can get a little richer. I stand in opposition to the construction of the Atlantic Sunrise pipeline. The federal government should not have the power to grant eminent domain for corporate gain. We need to overhaul the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and make sure that it works on behalf of the people, not fossil fuel billionaires.
We must invest in clean energy infrastructure that creates good jobs and safeguards our planet. In Lancaster, I have developed award-winning programs and advocacy to push the private sector toward a more sustainable future. If elected to Congress, I will co-sponsor the 100x50 Act to ensure a transition to 100% renewable energy by 2050 and invest in communities on the frontlines of poverty and pollution.
I will oppose subsidizing big oil and gas corporations who threaten our health and homes while driving us into climate catastrophe.
I will join progressives in calling on the DOJ to investigate Exxon and other major fossil fuel corporations for violating the RICO Act and intentionally deceiving the public about the dangers of climate change for decades.
My work on sustainability in the LNP: Working Towards an Earth Friendly Economic Prospertiy
As a graduate of Manheim Township public schools, I believe every child should have the same opportunity to an excellent education that I did. High-quality schools and a strong economy give each of us our best chance to be successful. For too long, we’ve cut funding to our schools. Now is the time for us to invest again in our children’s futures and the future of our towns, villages, and cities. We need families to choose our communities as their homes, knowing their children will attend strong schools that will prepare them well for a future with our changing economy. We have a long and proud tradition of higher education here in central Pennsylvania, and I am committed to making sure that our students can afford to attend a four-year college or a vocational program. If we don’t make this a top-priority, we will lose our best and brightest students.
Education has to be the number one priority of the United States, and by extension, Congress. Everything follows this lead. Environment, diplomatic affairs, the economy, etc., all are affected by the quality of the education received by Americans graduating from our educational system. We need to commit to sustainably funding education from a pre-K level. We need to commit to making education zip-code-independent. We need to attract and reward the best teachers, and we need to encourage a public/private partnership in improving the quality of public education.
Getting education back on the right track means that our tax code must be structured in such a way as to bolster and support our school programs and systems, not undermine them. Teachers must be valued, supported and most of all, they need to be listened to.
The unfunded mandates and the whole teaching to the test mentality that has grown pervasive in our schools must be changed with the input and advice of both parents and teachers. Appropriate equitable funding is important too. Current models of public school funding have proven to be both unfair and unworkable. An equal level of per student funding throughout the United States, regardless of zip code, must be provided. Further, because education must be a national priority and imperative, I would support the reallocation of taxpayer monies from federal budgets to fund "free" public higher education. See my Nov 22 posting on the issue.
Every American has a right to an excellent public education. The political establishment has abandoned our public schools, cutting precious funding and allowing big banks to take advantage of a growing student loan debt crisis. Attending a good public school should not be determined by where we grow up and how much money we have.
We must support strong neighborhood public schools that are governed by the local community. My two kids attend School District of Lancaster elementary and middle schools. SDOL is the poorest district in Lancaster County, where 85% of students qualify for free and reduced lunch. The City of Reading fares even worse at 93%.
There must be equitable and adequate state funding for public education, including expanding the amount of Title I funding available for districts with high concentrations of poverty. School districts should have access to adequate funding regardless of their local property tax base.
We need to provide debt-free public college to all Americans. I am committed to engaging in a robust debate about the best way to establish higher education as a universal public good. I will explore policies that include imposing a financial transactions tax on Wall Street to eliminate tuition at community and public colleges and/or providing federal matching funds that ensure the costs of college never exceed what students can earn working 10 hours per week at the state minimum wage.
It is time for Congress to protect Americans from the violence wrought by an uneven system of state laws throughout our nation. States' rights respected, we are one nation, and one people, and we need to demand a universal set of standards by which the ownership of guns are regulated. Universal background checks, before a gun can be purchased in any marketplace in any state in America, must be strictly enforced. Thus, a law that would restrain the ability of someone with mental illness, someone on a terrorist watch list, someone with a criminal past who has demonstrated a willingness to use violence against innocent victims from purchasing a gun would be one that I would support. I also support the reimplementation of the 1994 Assault Weapon ban, and I would outlaw any device that could convert a semi-automatic weapon into an automatic weapon. I am against the "build a weapon" kits to make and assemble homemade weapons, for I believe these should be outlawed as a "clear and present danger" exception to freedom of speech. The "price" of possessing an illegal firearm must be "so steep" that it is prohibitive.
I would support mandatory, substantial incarceration if a criminal were to use a gun in the commission of a crime, or if you brandish an unlicensed firearm, even where no secondary crime has occurred. With common sense laws enacted, the core causes of gun violence; including the support of mental health treatment, education, jobs, and drug abuse should be addressed.
My heart breaks for the people killed and injured in the the epidemic of mass shootings we have experienced. Our elected representatives should be passing more effective background checks to keep guns out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have them. And we should be banning the sale of deadly, semiautomatic assault weapons.
During the 2016 electoral cycle, Rep. Lloyd Smucker received more money in outside spending and direct contributions from the National Rifle Association than any other House candidate: $221,736. Our community is outraged by the horrific death tolls in Las Vegas, Orlando, and Newtown, but it’s hard to stand up for what’s right when the NRA gives you more money in outside spending than anyone else. Rep. Smucker should be ashamed.
I grew up on the edge of farm fields in Leola, Pennsylvania. My community is home to hunters and sportsmen. I support the right to own guns, and I also know that none of us need to buy rapid-fire, assault weapons that are designed for warzones. Protecting our communities from assault weapons, banning bump stocks and accessories that transform legal guns into deadly automatic weapons, and creating a comprehensive system of background checks is just common sense.
Political influence will always be sought by those who have vested interests in the laws of our nation. The best way to prevent the abuse of the power of our Congressional representatives would be to bring about the following changes which I intend to advocate for:
- Implement Term Limits: Increase the Term of the US Representative from 2 years to 4 years, and implement a (3) three term limit (12 years maximum per individual).
- Implement a 2 term limit for all Senators. (12 years maximum per individual)
- Overturn the "Citizen's United" law
- Implement a mandatory electioneering period of only 6 months prior to a Primary election.
- Enact a "cap" on the amount of money that any individual or group of individuals can donate to a candidate for State or Federal office.
Free and fair elections are essential to an American democracy that works for all of us. But right now, Washington is rigged for the rich and powerful. On every issue we care about, from healthcare to gun safety to climate change to taxes, politicians are pulled to favor the wealthiest by armies of lobbyists and corporate donors who fund campaigns and SuperPACs. We need to end the corruption of big money in our politics.
Our campaign is funded by thousands of grassroots donors, and we reject money from corporate SuperPACs and the fossil fuel industry. If elected, I will advocate for a reformation of our campaign finance system and our lobbying laws, including:
- Cosponsoring the Democracy for All Amendment that would overturn Citizens United, Buckley vs. Valeo, and McCutcheon vs. the FEC.
- Cosponsoring the Government by the People Act (H.R. 20) that would establish a system of publicly funded federal elections.
- Crafting legislation that requires that publicly traded companies disclose all political spending to the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Criminal justice reform requires a need to:
- Address the underlying fundamental socio-economic issues of education and jobs, as I have outlined in previous responses
- Remove the mechanisms that drive crime, mainly drugs (see below). Where there are drugs, there is cash; and where there is cash, there are guns. Fact of the street.
- Work with police force training and recruitment from within communities, just as athletic programs do, by building bridges with youth through acknowledgement of positive behavior
- I am against the privatization of our prison systems.
I would introduce legislation that will "Legalize Marijuana" nationwide to eliminate the profit incentive from the black market that is pushing this drug in America. This will bring agriculture and medical research related jobs to the marketplace, revenue to government, lessen the strain on our prison system, reduce dramatically the numbers of people of color who are disproportionately incarcerated for these offenses, and perhaps most importantly, eliminate the black market profits that have led to so many crimes and murders all over America. Hopefully there may be a reduction in people fleeing crime from Central America, due to a reduction in the violence and power of drug cartels. I would support education as to the dangers of marijuana. I would support mandatory public service and any other applicable penalties for anyone who operates a vehicle under the influence of any mind altering substances. "
For too long, our criminal justice system has enforced policies that rob Americans of their freedom because of where they live or how they look. America is a nation founded on an ideal - that all are created equal. We must transform our criminal justice system to reflect that ideal and protect our freedom, our security, and our privacy.
- We must reduce the mass incarceration and over-policing of African-Americans, and we can start by passing the bipartisan Sentencing & Reform Act (HR. 3713).
- We must ban for-profit prisons. Nobody should be making money off jailing our fellow Americans. There is no incentive for for-profit prisons to reduce recidivism and incarceration.
- We must end the failed War on Drugs and eliminate mandatory minimums that create sentencing inequalities.
- People with substance abuse and mental health problems should be provided with affordable treatment instead of a jail cell.
- We must dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline and transform punitive disciplinary processes. Congressional funding should not be tied to zero-tolerance disciplinary practices.
- No one should spend time in jail simply because they are poor. We must create alternatives to cash bail for nonviolent offenders, as has been successfully implemented in places like Washington DC.
- When citizens return home after incarceration, we need to ensure that they can find family-sustaining employment.
People are really fed up with Washington. Right now, we need leaders in Congress who can get things done by cutting through the petty partisanship and legislative gridlock. For most of my life, I’ve been someone who brings people together to find solutions. Whether advocating for non-profits’ policy agendas domestically or teaching civic participation methods internationally, I have a long track record of achieving results. As the 16th district’s Congresswoman, voters can count on me to build the coalitions needed to implement solutions.
The winner of the 2018 16th District Campaign will be the candidate that best articulates a message of "Unity" for all of our constituents. Pennsylvanians want change in our healthcare system that enriches the for-profit Insurance industry, while everyday citizens are paying too much in medical premiums with excessively high deductibles, and for medications that are too expensive. As a healthcare provider for over 34 years, no other candidate in this race has the expertise that I have and can bring to the Halls of Congress to help craft Healthcare legislation that will work for every constituent of the 16th District! I know first hand why our people cannot afford their healthcare bills.
I have worked in poultry slaughterhouses, shoveled manure, baled straw, pruned vines in subfreezing temperatures, and brought fruit to market in Southeast Pennsylvania. I am the only candidate that can reach across the lines and speak to constituents from all parties from personal experience as a 5th generation farmer. If we truly desire to replace Lloyd Smucker, than the Democratic Party must elect a candidate that can actually win the general election by winning independent and moderate Republican voters, while standing strong for our Democratic values. I have served in municipal government, and understand how this system works. Our family has lived in Center City Reading for over 20 years, and I understand the core funding issues of our urban school districts, our working poor, and municipal infrastructure needs, and specifically how the proposed GOP Tax plan will fail to improve each of these critical areas that all of our constituents want to see addressed. 16th District farmers and urban citizens want immigration reform and passage of the DREAM Act. Living in a bilingual household, I understand all too well the benefits we receive as a cohesive nation of immigrants, for it is in our diversity that we gather our strength as one people.
As an owner of a hybrid electric vehicle since 2001, I have personally invested in American made electric cars as a choice to support 21st century technology, good paying American jobs, and our environment. As the only self-employed small business person in this race from the 16th district, I am humbly someone who has created work for others, started two successful businesses, and understands what it is like to pay the taxes that our nation requires to survive. At 60 years of age, I bring more expertise than any other candidate to this job, and I continue to work as I campaign to help to support our two children in college. This is what our Founding Fathers had in mind when they crafted our system of government. Entrepreneurs who understand how the market works and what it needs, not career politicians. We don't need the politics of division that we are currently experiencing. We need a doctor, a farmer, an educator, a taxpayer, a husband, a father and a "Unifier" as our next Congressman!
We have a choice in 2018. We can allow the politics of fear and greed to divide us. We can allow Trump’s GOP to speak for working people. Or we can build a progressive majority that can win this district. The opportunity is clear. If a Democrat mobilizes the growing base of working people - Latinos, Puerto Rican immigrants, African-Americans, students, small business owners, and anti-establishment rural voters - we’ll break the GOP’s 72-year grip on this seat.
Washington insiders say no one can bring those groups together; Democrats can only try to win a few more Romney voters. But despite what they say, we see working people of every color and creed stand largely united. We want an America that works for all of us, not just the rich and powerful.
When the GOP is allowed to claim the mantle of populism and then sow seeds of bigotry, pitting neighbor against neighbor, we lose. When millionaire donors pour money into campaigns in exchange for massive tax giveaways, and Democrats don’t indict this corruption, we lose.
But a bold progressive populism that includes all of us can undercut the appeal of Trumpism, unite us against a political establishment that works only for the 1%, and mobilize that progressive majority of voters. Anger at Trump is important, but it won't bring together that diverse base of voters alone. We need to put the worries and hopes of working families at the center of our campaign, and champion policies that give all of us a better life.
Rep. Lloyd Smucker will say his tax bill is a boon to small businesses, and for too long Democrats have allowed the GOP to own the ‘small business’ argument. But as a first-time candidate with local, Mennonite roots, and a career of supporting Pennsylvanians to start their own businesses, I will dismantle Lloyd Smucker’s pro-business facade.
I got my first job at 8 years old, working in the paint shop my parents started. I live in Southeast Lancaster City alongside immigrants and hardworking folks trying to make ends meet. I know that too many of my neighbors feel that the Democratic Party isn’t for working people like us. But I know my story, and our vision for an America that works for all of us, can build a winning coalition in PA-16.
It will be hard to overcome the GOP’s advantage in PA-16. We can’t pour all our money into TV ads and hope we just get over the top. We need to talk to tens of thousands voters face-to-face, and start knocking doors early and often. That’s why we’re building an immense, volunteer-driven field program that can cover every corner of the district.
As I campaign, I think often of Thaddeus Stevens, who represented Lancaster in the mid-1800s. Now is the moment to ask ourselves the same question Thaddeus Stevens asked our nation: Is the revolutionary promise of freedom and equality real in the lives of the people, or just dry ink on parchment? We can win this election and continue the struggle to make real the promise of this nation. We will build an America for all of us.