>> Radio DePaul Interview
>> Q&A with the Chicago Tribune
>> Q&A with the Chicago Sun-Times
Here are my five top issues:
(with links to newsletters on each)
✔ Universal Health Care
✔ Massive Infrastructure Investment
✔ A Foreign Policy for Civility
✔ Respect for Tribal Sovereignty
Please download the joint statement issued
with Jeff Ballinger, Congressional candidate
in the Massachusetts 3rd District … Joint Statement on Tribal Sovereignty (367 downloads)
✔ A Freedom Budget for the 21st Century
But there are many reasons to vote for social democratic leadership for the Illinois 5th District:
✔ Montessori-style Pre-K for All
✔ Invest in Kids’ First Five Years
✔ Invest in Public K-12 Education
✔ Free Public College
✔ Decarbonize Our Energy System
✔ Overturn Citizens United
✔ Guarantee Family/Medical Leave
✔ Raise The Minimum Wage to $15
✔ Support Union Organizing
✔ End the War on Drugs
✔ Abolish Monetary Bond
✔ Restore Eisenhower Era Tax Rates
✔ Stop Endless Military Spending
✔ Support Civil Rights
✔ End Anti-LGBT Discrimination
✔ Expand Social Security
✔ Train the Police in De-escalation
✔ Demilitarize the Police
✔ Give the Police More Time to Sleep
✔ Bust up the “Too Big to Fail”
✔ Abolish I.C.E.
✔ Welcome Refugees and Immigrants
✔ Support Planned Parenthood
✔ Follow Australia’s Example on Guns
I am running for Congress because I am a social democrat who thinks that it is time for a moral as well as a political revolution in this country—time for a return to first principles. I believe that my background and skills will enable me to help advance that twin revolution better than any of the other candidates in the race.
My training is as an historian—Yale PhD 1996—a scholar of the history of American foreign relations who believes that we can draw from our common past to build a shared future.
My favorite revolutionary among the framers of our Constitution is the Pennsylvania lawyer James Wilson. According to Wilson we—the American people—are “sovereigns without subjects.” This was—and is—a succinct way of stating the most basic ideal of the American Revolution. It took the Civil War, and the civil rights movement, to even begin to make this true for African-Americans. It took the suffragists, and the women’s rights movement generally, to even begin to make this true for women. And it took the organization of trade unions, and the labor movement generally, to even begin to keep this true for working people: to prevent the power of the state being used on behalf of corporations to make subjects of workers. In our own day, it will take a moral and political revolution to keep the 1% from making subjects of all the rest of us and destroying the promise of the American Revolution. And it will take repentance on the part of the American people to cease attempting to rule over the Indian nations as if they were in any way our subjects, or subject to our jurisdiction.
The claim that Jeff Sessions and Donald Trump try to make of exercising authority under Romans 13 is morally and legally bankrupt. The American people are sovereign under our law and directly and indirectly answerable to God for our conduct. Or to use more blunt language: “First they came for the kids… and then we said: ‘Not this time motherfuckers!'”
As a practical strategy, I think Democrats have to be focused on the programs and policies we advocate for the country rather than on being “not-Trump” or primarily focused on Trump’s abuses, grotesque and numerous as those abuses are. I enjoyed the incumbent Mike Quigley’s introducing his “Covfefe Act” as much as anyone, but whether people are cheering Trump or jeering at him, they are playing his game. And Quigley is a centrist—a Hillary Clinton supporter in the 2016 primaries and someone who hasn’t yet signed on to HR 676 (Medicare for All) to say nothing of the central litmus test of our time: abolishing I.C.E.
With my winning a little more than 4,000 votes to Quigley’s over 63,000, the primary election in March 2018 was not even close. My hope is that in November there will be a huge blue wave and Mike will become the chair of the House Financial Services Subcommittee and so in a better position to help our district. This will make it harder to defeat him in 2020, but I have no doubt that I will do so. I remain devoted to social democracy and for me that always means seeking to help build something better whenever possible. Sameena Mustafa ran an honorable campaign and also helped to broadcast the need for more progressive representation. The voters of the 5th District do not yet agree and the task ahead of us will be one of persuasion and mobilization. That is the task before the country as a whole if we are to defeat Trump and begin to build a more just, prosperous, and ecologically-sound national community—a country genuinely self-governed by we the people.
America’s founding generation established a relationship between the sacred and the secular that enabled civic freedom to expand and flourish. They founded a civil religion that has grown over the centuries to include people of diverse faiths—and of no particular faith—as equal citizens and as worthy members of the body politic. If we are to deal successfully with the dystopias that now confront us, as a people and as a world, that civil religion must be reinvigorated and the moral foundations of our common life restored and renewed. I presented my view of what we should be seeking in a speech to the 144-year-old Chicago Literary Club on “America and the Kingdom” that can be downloaded here: America and the Kingdom (663 downloads)
The political fight that is now before us turns on the question of whether the United States will uphold the vision of the most progressive framers of the Constitution—that the American people as a whole are sovereign under an international moral and legal order that also guarantees other peoples, and ultimately every individual, their rights—or whether we will slip further back into something more like the Articles of Confederation and the “states’ rights” vision that the states have a right to bully those they consider inferior or, worse yet, into a new vision of a bullying federal government in which that government is answerable not to the American people but to the whims of a demagogue or to what Bernie Sanders refers to as “a handful of billionaires, their Super-PACs and their lobbyists.”
There was an essentially social democratic consensus in this country for a generation after the New Deal. I am running to help rebuild and improve that consensus and to help revivify the promise of the American Revolution with a new interfaith conception of the promise of the Kingdom of God, a conception that I hope will prove agreeable to secular folk and maybe even to some atheists as well as to believers.
We, the American people, are all in this together. As James Wilson wrote of the spirit behind American progress in 1790: “All will receive from each, and each will receive from all, mutual support and assistance: mutually supported and assisted, all may be carried to a degree of perfection hitherto unknown; perhaps, hitherto not believed.” We must rebuild the hope-filled moral consensus on which our society rests and transform our politics and our economics to serve the common good rather than the 1%.
The artwork above, “The Valley,” is a painting by Nick Fisher. It presents a hopeful view of a peaceful, prosperous, just, and ecologically-sound community.