Election Eve

This is the most important mid-term election in our lifetimes.

Some of us have already voted. Others among us await our turn at the polls this coming Tuesday. All of us look forward to the final results.

Let’s pause to reflect on what we are voting for and what is at stake for our region and our country.

CIVILITY: I’ve been campaigning now for 16 months. To the many thousands of East Tennesseans who have shaken my hand, welcomed me into their homes and businesses, made donations, canvassed friends and neighbors, and helped the campaign by spreading the word on Responsible Change—thank you for your participation and for your support.

FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY: This election offers a choice. Are we going to burden the nation’s children and grandchildren with trillions of dollars in unnecessary and unfair debt, or are we going to create an equitable and responsible tax plan in which everyone carries their own weight? Are we going to support billionaire donors or everyday Americans?

THE U.S. CONSTITUTION: The first duty of any elected official is to uphold and defend the Constitution. Recently our President, supported by Congressman Roe, has taken a stand against the 14th Amendment—the part of the Constitution that makes anyone born in our country a citizen. When leaders of the most powerful nation on earth imply that newborn babies are a threat to national security, it’s time for a reality-check. Promoting irrational fear is not leadership. Even worse, the President has suggested that he can bypass the Constitution with a mere stroke of his pen. No, he can’t. If the President fulfills his promise to issue an Executive Order to over-ride the 14th Amendment, such an action will undermine the rule of law and could betray the oath of office.

EDUCATION: Locally-controlled public schools are the heart of every community and represent our most important long-term investment in the future. We must refuse any system (such as vouchers) that diverts education dollars to for-profit corporations that are responsible to shareholders, not to children and families, and that may be here today and gone tomorrow.

CONSERVATION AND THE ENVIRONMENT: Northeast Tennessee is environmentally blessed. Our district includes rich farmland, abundant forests, and outstanding water resources. Our borders encompass portions of the Cherokee National Forest, abut the Smoky Mountain National Park, and are traversed by the Appalachian Trail. Conserving our natural beauty and resources can be done in ways that also stimulate our economy.

JOBS: Tennessee is number one nationally in minimum wage jobs. The promised “trickle down” of huge corporate tax cuts has not produced significantly better wages for most workers in the 12 counties of Northeast Tennessee. This is not a surprise, since “trickle down” tax cut policies have repeatedly failed throughout history. Improving the quality of jobs in Northeast Tennessee will not happen by making the rich richer. We can do better

HEALTHCARE: Congressman Roe voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act without replacing it. This would have cruelly thrown millions of Americans off their health care plans, including about 60,000 here in Northeast Tennessee. It’s time to stop paying three times as much for medications as the citizens in other countries and let Medicare negotiate for drug prices. If we do that, and if we also stand up to the corruption, administrative inefficiency, and bloated corporate profits that consume far too many of our healthcare dollars, we’ll have hundreds of billions of dollars to spend on patient care.

OPIOID CRISIS: Every year, more and more people in our region become addicted to opioids and other substances. This hurts the addicted patients and their families and is also a factor in at least 80 percent of the criminal activity in our region. Our economy is harmed since new businesses are afraid to relocate here out of concern that there won’t be enough employees who will pass drug screens. And now many elementary students who survived drug withdrawal as newborns are demonstrating school problems. We have to act, and the first step is to reduce the number of new addicts in our region. We have to stop the diversion of prescription medication to the streets, we have to make sure patients can access medication-assisted therapy without having to sell part of their medication to afford their doctor bills, and we have to support law enforcement efforts to clamp down on those who are profiting from this crisis. We can do better, but we need to start now.

Thanks to all of you who voted for me or plan to vote for me. Please reach out to your like-minded friends, relatives, and neighbors and help them make it to the polls as well. Let’s get on the right track Nov 6.