Freedom is at the heart of what we understand the United States of America to be – a beacon of hope to people everywhere living in oppressed societies, unable to thrive while under constant threat of economic or physical violence.
Yet the United States must lead by example by admitting its shortcomings, overhauling its systemically racist, classist, and sexist institutions, and working to protect the personal freedoms of all Americans whenever possible. We’ve too often fallen short of this ideal. That’s why, to enshrine lasting personal freedoms and bodily autonomy for all Americans, we must make massive changes to how the U.S. Senate does business, followed by generational and equitable investments in housing, education, health care, and climate resilience that will allow freedom to flourish.
We have to bolster these foundations of American democracy – reinvigorating our government for the people by the people – to protect our freedoms for the next generation. And with greedy CEOs, special interests, and corrupt politicians out of the picture, we might have a chance to succeed.
Demand Racial Justice
Millions of Californians have experienced firsthand how our nation’s laws are applied differently based on the color of their skin. We can all see how our institutions and government seem to work best for those rich or white (or both). This long, painful story of American policy dates back 400 years to America’s original sin of slavery. It’s a history we should never forget, with many problems still being solved. That’s why we can start by rewriting our laws to address – head-on – systemic injustices that leave Black, Brown, and AANHPI communities behind. We can level the playing field by pursuing equity and diversity in our public institutions, promoting minority homeownership and small business ownership, investing in educational opportunities, and standing firm against hate and discrimination.
Reform Our Broken Criminal Justice System
Corporate special interests drive extreme inequalities in our deeply flawed criminal justice system, robbing countless Americans of their lives and livelihoods. Our courts and cops are where government oversight becomes a literal issue of life and death. Too many politicians still ignore this area, unwilling to provide truthful reviews of law enforcement policies. That’s why I’m pushing to crack down on police violence by boosting transparency in police records and budgets, ending qualified immunity, reforming police training, and creating a national database of officers who have used excessive force to ban their hiring. I also strongly oppose police militarization and have repeatedly called for greater scrutiny of how the Department of Defense spends its resources, including the transfers of military equipment to state and local law enforcement agencies. How many more Black and Brown people must die before we act against police brutality?
We must also eliminate every private, for-profit prison, repeal the disastrous 1994 crime bill, and decriminalize and reschedule cannabis while reducing, if not expunging, the records of those convicted of minor cannabis-related offenses.
Respect Indigenous Rights
For decades, the issue of indigenous rights has been ignored by politicians in Washington, often for the gain of greedy industries like Big Oil. For millennia, California’s indigenous people have been stewards of the land we now call California, which is home to hundreds of Tribes. We must respect the rights and sovereignty of California’s Tribes.
I will always respect the government-to-government relationship between our nations and help Tribes achieve economic self-reliance. Tribal communities in California often face big disparities in health, housing, education, and economic opportunity – that has to end. California Tribes are on the frontlines of the opioid epidemic, which has disproportionately harmed indigenous communities. We must also elevate the epidemic of disappearances of indigenous women and girls, whose lives have been ignored and devalued by white communities for generations. We must finally treat these disappearances as the crisis it is by increasing federal funding to empower tribes to protect themselves while also drastically improving coordination between local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies.
Prioritize Economic Justice
Decade after decade, Washington has delivered an economy that empowers Wall Street, not workers. So many Californians – especially Californians of color – are working two, sometimes three jobs and can barely keep a roof over their head or food on their table. We must tackle this problem by breaking greedy corporations’ stronghold on our government. And the time to do this is now. We’re staring down monumental industrial changes – from the rise of artificial intelligence to the transition towards clean energy – that could further worsen income inequality. We can’t let the same communities who have gotten left behind decade after decade fall through the cracks because Washington was once again too focused on winning over Wall Street.
Fight for Environmental Justice
I know the special interest playbook: greedy corporations too often target communities they don’t think have the resources to fight back. This abuse exists across California, from the Inland Empire, which has some of the worst air pollution in the nation, to vulnerable communities across Southern California littered with old, unsealed oil wells abandoned by fossil fuel companies. The federal government must hold polluters accountable for environmental racism. We also need to prioritize resources to support vulnerable, frontline communities.