You’ve heard the statistics: 40% of women are the primary breadwinners of their home, if women got paid equally as men the US economy would double, etc. These statistics are irrelevant.
Women don’t deserve equal opportunity because “it’s good for our economy” or “good for their children” or “good for their family.” A woman’s value isn’t dependent on her relationship to her children, family or country — a woman’s value is inherit in her, simply for being a human being. This notion that women are valuable because of their association with someone else, is a contributing factor to rape culture. Unless we realize a woman’s inherent value, not just in our hearts but through our actions, our culture will continue enabling men to feel entitled to mansplain, dock a woman’s pay, harass her and force themselves upon her. We need to look inward and do some serious soul searching as a culture, and as men.
Even the most well-intentioned fail to fully recognize this, I myself often invoke my mother when making the case for why women deserve equal pay. Women don’t deserve equal pay because they had to raise kids like me on their own, they deserve equal pay because they are equal. Period.
The sad thing about men and people generally, is that many of us turn a blind eye and deaf ear to the objectification of others — until it happens to us. Since the beginning of my campaign, many have objectified and sexualized my candidacy. Many have been fixated on my looks and identity and have silenced my ideas, it stops being flattering when people start to tell you to “stop talking, just stand there and be nice to look at.” This is all but a fraction of what women go through every day, or how they feel when they are constantly objectified by men who feel entitled. Men need to do better and be better, starting with me.
Recently, I sat down to write a letter to my mother and I would like to share it with you.
Thank you for being both mom and dad throughout the years. You've always been there for me: as a colicky baby crying from a car seat, as a toddler who never believed in diapers, a second grader who hated waking up and got car sick on the way to school, a rowdy middle-schooler, an angsty teenager who rebelled and nearly flunked high school, to a struggling college student, a young professional who decided to leave you and chase my dreams in Washington, and now as a grown man running for congress.
You might not know this, but I remember seeing you cry when I was nine... the only time I ever saw you cry. There you were, sitting in bed, looking at a pile of bills on the night stand helplessly. I remember seeing you playing the saddest game of solitaire -- stacking bills behind others, knowing you couldn't pay them all and trying to figure out what we could live without for a month -- internet, water, or food. We had to do homework, we had to shower for school and we had to eat.
That struggle feeds me till this day mom -- you're unwillingness to quit on us still feeds me, and is why I don't quit on myself or others. You showed me, through a divorce, a broken heart, being broke, through working as a receptionist for a family doctor, applying for work at grocery stores, and now working and thriving in real estate -- that you can dust yourself off and start again, and that there's dignity in a hard day's work, that your work doesn't define you, it reveals you.
I'll never forget how you inconvenienced your life for mine. Whether it was interrupting work and explaining to your employers that your son needs to be driven home from school, to soccer games, to church and band practice. Or, choosing to live in a war zone just so your boys can have a father. You taught me how to work hard, but more importantly, you showed me how to love insanely and unconditionally. For that, I thank you.
You're my friend, the reason I can show friendship to others, you're like my sister, the reason I have a brother that I love like a son, and my one and only mother. I hope I've made up for all the lost time, all the heartache, the wounds and worries, fear and uncertainty during our years together. I hope you're proud to have me as your son, because I'm proud to have you as my mom. Forever, together.
I know I'll never be able to repay you, but I can make this promise to you. I promise you mom, that someday your granddaughter will have it easier. Her life won't be harder just because she's a woman. I'll fight until my last breath to make sure her life is fairer, her opportunities are more equal, and rights more protected. I promise you to let no one, especially no man, rob her of the progress your generation fought and sacrificed for.
Today, I am running for congress to fight for my mother, all women and the women of future generations.
If elected, I will stand up for:
Millions of uninsured Americans have received access to healthcare through the Affordable Care Act (ACA), including 46,000 residents of CA50. While it has serious flaws, it has advanced our nation closer to the universal coverage offered by other industrialized countries.
Congress must fix the ACA, not undermine it and tear it down with nothing to replace it. We need to break through political gridlock in Washington and get on with the people’s business.
If elected, I would vote to take immediate action to (1) lower the cost of prescription drugs by having Medicare negotiate prices, (2) provide a public option to compete with the private sector based on who provides lower costs and higher quality service and (3) as a short-term solution, allow individuals ages 50-64 years old to buy into early medicare.
Pregnancy and childbirth care for women, mental health care and addiction, prescription drugs, hospitalization, emergency services, devices for people with disabilities and other essential health benefits required under ACA must be preserved.
I pledge to oppose any effort to defund the ACA, limit access to coverage, reduce essential benefits, reintroduce lifetime caps, restrict coverage for people with pre-existing conditions or reduce access for people with low incomes by raising premiums.
But even with these fixes, ACA still falls short of the mark of universal coverage and costs too much for many Americans. Medical costs continue to rise, making ACA coverage unaffordable and inaccessible for tens of millions of Americans.
TRICARE, the military’s healthcare program, and Medicare have both proven to provide more affordable care than the private insurance system does. We should learn from these successful models and expand them for everyone.
That’s why Congress must move toward Medicare for All.
Many wounded veterans, cancer patients, and recovering opioid addicts have successfully incorporated medicinal cannabis into their treatment. In fact, studies have shown that medicinal cannabis can help heal the human brain after years of opioid abuse by reconnecting synapses and neural networks. If elected, I will support de-scheduling cannabis and fund research to examine it as a natural alternative to often lethal prescription drugs such as opioids, depressants, and amphetamines.
I believe the best way to offer every American healthcare security, while lowering the costs of care, would be a health care program known as Medicare for All. It is the best way to advance our society toward health justice.
I’d proudly join those supporting H.R. 676. According to Physicians for a National Health Program, 95 percent of all households would save money under Medicare for All. No more co-pays and deductibles, more free choice of doctor and hospital, and doctors would regain autonomy over patient care. It’s a win-win for patients and doctors.
Today’s costs are unjustifiably high. Americans spent $3.4 trillion on healthcare last year. Prescription drug costs today are obscene and the same surgical procedure costs thousands of dollars more at a facility across town.
A Medicare for All system would set prices for medical services and prescription drugs. It could eliminate deductibles, co-pays, premiums and caps on cost-sharing. It could also promote better care, and reduce unnecessary services, through evidence-based guidelines. Removing private insurance industry profits from the system frees billions of dollars for providing healthcare to more Americans.
If elected to Congress, I would be proud to support Medicare for All.
Sick children and pregnant women should always have quality healthcare. I would vote for permanent authorization of the CHIP program on its merits.