Guest piece from State Representative Lindsay James of Dubuque.
One evening last fall, as I finished up a long day of knocking doors in my race for the state House, I welcomed an offer to sit down with a voter on his porch steps. After we introduced ourselves, he shared his story.
Having worked two and three low-paying jobs at a time for most of his life, he’d finally found his way to retirement. He appreciated the slower pace and an end to the endless drudgery of workaday life, but to his surprise and dismay he couldn’t find the relaxation he had hoped for.
Instead, he found he’d traded the stress of work for the stress of surviving on a fixed income.
“Lindsay,” he said, “I’m afraid that one day I’m gonna have to choose between paying my rent and keeping my house or paying for my insulin and keeping my foot.”
After a lifetime of hard work, when he should’ve been enjoying his friends, family and free time, this voter — this Iowan, this neighbor of mine — was staring down an impossible choice: his home or his health.
Since winning the election and joining the Iowa House of Representatives, I’ve heard iterations of this story over and over again as I’ve gotten to know my constituents and met Iowans from across the state.
As a new legislator, though, these weren’t the voices I heard when I arrived at the Statehouse last January. Rather, most of the people I met as I walked the halls of the Capitol were lobbyists for drug companies, lobbyists for big banks, lobbyists for this corporation and that industry group. Where, I wondered, are the lobbyists for the poor, the pushed aside, those fighting to make it to payday and those just surviving on the margins?
Where was the lobbyist for my constituent budgeting his rent against his prescriptions? Where’s the lobbyist for the Iowans I’ve met foregoing a winter coat for a week’s worth of groceries?
This is the reality I’m thinking about as I look ahead to 2020 and our renewed opportunity to shape the future of this country, and these are the questions I’m asking as I evaluate this broad and deep field of presidential candidates.
We need a president who recognizes that the rich and the powerful have corrupted our government so that it works great for them, while leaving working people behind. We need a president with a vision for ensuring dignity and opportunity for all — and a plan to get it done.
There’s one candidate who fits the bill: it’s Elizabeth Warren, which is why I’m endorsing her for president in 2020.
Elizabeth has devoted her career fighting for my constituents and people like them all across America. After growing up, as she describes it, “on the ragged edge of the middle class,” she spent decades investigating why families go broke and why it’s become so hard to build a comfortable life in the richest country in the world.
She fought big banks’ efforts to undercut bankruptcy protections, defended taxpayers’ interests during the bank bailout, and then created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a federal agency that has now returned more than $12 billion to consumers ripped off by predatory financial firms.
My constituents need economic justice and they need universal healthcare. They need a political and economic system that works for everyone, not an ever-smaller sliver of those at the top.
These are monumental challenges that cut across our whole society and our entire economy, and Elizabeth has a plan to solve them. She’s the only candidate who understands that these challenges demand big, structural change — and she’s willing to fight for it.
I’m proud to endorse Elizabeth Warren for president, and I hope you’ll join me in supporting her on Feb. 3, 2020 in the Iowa caucuses.
by State Representative Lindsay James