Across the Inland Empire families are hurting. The prices of gas and food are through the roof, wages are stagnant, the pandemic continues but utility and rent moratoriums are over – people are working hard and are barely getting by.
Whether it’s enacting an emergency healthcare program for all, adding robust protections against evictions and utility shutoffs, or forgiving student debt, there is so much more than we can and must be doing to give working people relief.
If we learned one thing from COVID-19, it’s that everyone needs and deserves healthcare and too many do not have access to it. Folks need to be able to seek medical care as soon as they’re sick, without worrying about whether it will bankrupt them, and they need good preventative healthcare to help avoid expensive emergencies in the first place. Medicare for All is a moral and economic imperative, for the COVID era and beyond. Derek supports Bernie Sanders’ Medicare for All plan, which includes a guarantee of no premiums or deductibles, prescription costs capped at $100, funding for rural hospitals and clinics, and provides relief to both individuals, who no longer have to pay insurance costs, as well as small businesses, for whom providing health insurance is an unnecessary financial burden. Enacting Medicare for all would provide the care we need and expand funding for regional care and trauma centers our community desperately needs.
Medicare for All…
Americans are facing more and more debt every year. Much of this debt is from things that other countries have figured out how to guarantee for their citizens. Medical debt and student loan debt have become two of the largest financial burdens people are facing. When we eliminate all medical debt and pass Medicare for All to guarantee healthcare for everybody, no one will ever again have to decide between insulin or paying their rent. Derek supports complete federal student loan debt forgiveness, which will allow millions of working people to escape from under a mountain of insurmountable debt, lower economic inequality, and provide an economic stimulus which will benefit everyone.
Southern California sits at the epicenter of the country’s housing crisis. Housing rentals and property prices are increasingly unaffordable and nowhere in the country can someone making minimum wage afford a two bedroom apartment.
In the richest nation on the planet this is a national embarrassment and another sign that working people are being left off the agenda in Washington.
Derek Marshall believes everyone deserves housing as a human right.
We need to invest in the construction of more affordable housing…
Like most of America, working people in the communities around California’s 23rd District have still not recovered from the 2008 financial crisis. While both sides of the aisle have been focused on filling the pockets of wealthy corporations, communities were left to pick up the pieces. In the richest country in the world, we can guarantee everyone a good quality of life. That is why Derek believes that crucial steps to a real recovery include Medicare for All, a Green New Deal, and a Jobs Guarantee. Everyone should be able to go to a doctor, breathe clean air, and work a local/non-commuter job that pays a living wage. These ideas are not radical, they are human rights.
Coming out of the Great Depression, we enacted a New Deal to put regular people back to work rebuilding our nation, ushering in an unprecedented era of American prosperity, freedom, and even creativity. But slowly, over the course of decades, the provisions of that program were chipped away and privatized, the effects of which were particularly acute in small-city and rural America.
It’s time for another New Deal to transform our economy, combat climate change, and establish meaningful and lasting economic, social, educational, and healthcare justice. We can do all that in a way that lifts all boats and leaves no one behind.
It feels like every week, another big report from an international scientific body drops and the alarm is sounded: climate change is real, it’s devastating, and we’re running out of time to act, they all say.
Here in California, we already knew this. We’re on the front lines of the climate crisis. Wildfires and droughts have become more and more frequent, with very little hope in sight. We have to get serious about climate change. We can guarantee a better, cleaner, safer future (and present) by passing a Green New Deal. Bringing sustainable industry and public solar and wind projects will not only help protect our communities from further environmental damage, but will bring good high-paying union jobs to every corner of our district and our country.
Our National Parks and Forests and other public lands are the pride of California’s 23rd District, anchoring us with a sense of place while also providing a major tourism draw that brings major tourism dollars. It is imperative that these natural wonders be maintained for our children and all future generations. The 2020 Great American Outdoors Act is a good start, but we know all too well that the maintenance backlog in our federally-administered areas is much too big. The good news: hiring folks to deal with this backlog provides good Civilian Conservation Corps-style STEM, administrative, and infrastructure jobs for local folks, as well as preserving our unique ecology.
Over-investment in cars and under-investment in mass transit has led to increased reliance on fossil fuels and planned inefficiency. Improved mass transit systems are a net benefit to people, the environment, and the economy. Building infrastructure—from new buses and train cars to tracks and stations—will bring back the sorts of jobs that have been disappearing for years, and the resulting mass transit networks will allow for more affordable and eco-friendly travel for both business and leisure.
Our construction industry struggles with the downturn of homebuyers and small businesses and families struggle with the cost of heating and cooling inefficient buildings, but the Green New Deal provides a solution to both: expanding federal funds and grant opportunities for individuals and businesses to upgrade their existing buildings to be eco-friendly. This may include simple fixes like better windows and insulation or bigger upgrades like rooftop solar panels and HVAC replacements. This win-win plan provides jobs for the construction industry and massive long-term financial savings for building owners, as well as an overall reduction in fossil fuel use.
As we go about combating the many overlapping crises that we face, we have to ensure that good jobs for regular, everyday people are at the core of everything we do. By enacting a community jobs guarantee and work programs like a Green New Deal, we can bring thousands of good-paying jobs with full benefits to our district.
This means that where there aren’t jobs, we’ll create them–there’s certainly plenty of work that needs doing. And every single job will be a good job, with living wages and full benefits. But it doesn’t stop there. We’re going to protect these gains by strengthening workers rights across the board, including the right to be part of a union, because strong organized labor is at the heart of economic prosperity for working folks.
We’ve all seen the cost of living rise while paychecks stagnate. Any person working a full-time job should be able to put food on the table every single day. We’re on our way to a living wage here in California already, but we still need to implement it nationwide. As California Democrats, we should be leading that fight and highlighting the example we’ve set for the rest of the country. The Federal Minimum Wage not only needs to be raised to $15, but it also must be tied to cost-of-living increases so as to keep the wealth gap from widening even further.
There is so much work to be done and so many people who are ready to do it, but the jobs themselves just aren’t there. With comprehensive programs to update infrastructure, revitalize rural communities, prioritize natural areas, upgrade older buildings for a greener future, educate another generation, and provide healthcare to all, every single person can have a job guaranteed to them via a federal jobs guarantee, just like in FDR’s original New Deal, which employed everyone from construction workers to scientists to artists, revitalizing the economy at the same time. We’ve done it before, we can do it again.
California has a long and proud history of labor organizing, but that hasn’t prevented industry bigwigs from constantly finding new ways to bust our unions and scatter our organized workplaces. Strong unions mean a strong working class. Strong unions mean decreased economic inequality. Strong unions mean strong communities. We need to pass the PRO Act to guarantee that workers across the country have the right to labor protections and we need to keep fighting for organized labor here at home in California.
Schools are at the heart of our communities, providing not only the educational opportunities that allow our children to thrive in a changing world, but community touchpoints that bring us all together. Our schools should receive robust funding, our teachers should be supported and nurtured, and our children should receive the very best education we can offer. This includes everything from free pre-K for all children, to give them a jump-start, all the way up to free public college, which should be even more accessible when we build CA-23’s first 4-year public university.
Providing free universal pre-k provides a win-win for kids and their working parents. Children get an early investment in their education and begin grade school with some preliminary experience in social learning. Adults get relief from the high costs of childcare and the challenge of finding good, safe, reliable preschool programs right near home, a burden that tends to disproportionately fall on women, and thus is a contributor to the pay gap. This program will also create thousands of new jobs for childcare workers and facility support staff.
Low teacher pay, inadequate resources, crumbling buildings and infrastructure: these problems have plagued our K-12 school systems for years—yet another deficit further exacerbated by the pandemic. This lack of investment has been shown to have the starkest effects on communities of color, which is leading to a widening achievement gap. We need to re-invest in our kids and in our future. This includes instituting minimum teacher salaries to attract the best talent to the profession, revitalizing infrastructure and building new construction where necessary, and investing in rural schools.
A changing world means a changing job market. Innovative new industries require new types of training and education, which is why we will make free public education (trade school, two-year, and four-year) a priority for all people, so everyone can do work that they enjoy and excel at. We need to make getting a quality education attainable for our children and grandchildren, and we need to invest more in rural schools including finally getting the first 4-year public college built right here at home.
Seeking justice means seeking a fairer, freer, safer world in which everyone enjoys the same liberties; where we recognize that none of us are truly free until all of us are free. We are not there yet. But we can get there.
We need transformative solutions that enact and protect social, racial, gender, economic, climate, and healthcare justice for all, and we cannot rest until we get them.
Black Lives Matter is non-negotiable, and it’s just the beginning. The movement for racial justice for Black and brown and indigenous people does not end with words. It must reach into every corner of our society, from policing, courts, and prisons to education to food access to healthcare justice. Until we live in a society free of racial prejudice, we must examine all legislation and policy to ensure that the solutions offered are not simply equal but truly equitable.
Bodily autonomy and medical privacy are fundamental rights, and the growing fundamentalist attack on abortion lays the groundwork for many new types of attacks on our bodily freedom and on gender-driven attacks against women and non-binary/trans folks. Over 70% of the US public supports keeping Roe v. Wade in place as-is; Congress needs to act now to codify abortion protections into federal law, including proper funding of reproductive health clinics in both urban and rural areas, and providing contraceptives, reproductive services, and abortion care as part of robust Medicare For All coverage. Age-appropriate sexual health education in schools is a public health necessity and should be both protected and supported.
For far too long, stable housing has been seen as a privilege, not a right, and pandemic made the problem so much worse. It’s time for guaranteed housing for everyone, which includes universal rent control and a fierce fight against all forms of housing discrimination. We also need to repeal the Faircloth Amendment and expand the growth of government-owned housing, the creation of which includes both new high-quality ground-up construction of housing units but also purchases and upgrades of existing buildings to provide new, affordable planet-friendly housing across our district.
The existence of homelessness is a policy choice and it’s one that we don’t have to make: countries from Japan to Switzerland have all but eradicated homelessness and we can, too, right here in CA-23 and across the USA. In coalition with advocates for the homeless and with people experiencing homelessness themselves, we can build housing-first programs, transitional and bridge housing options, and permanent supportive housing options for those folks who will always need just a little bit of extra help. We’ll also keep digging out the root causes of homelessness, both social and economic, including everything from rent control to ending the war on drugs to including mental healthcare in Medicare For All.
Californians have already seen the benefits of early efforts to decriminalize and legalize marijuana, but we still see far too many people entering the prison system or the cycle of homelessness because of drugs, and so many families have been devastated by the loss of loved ones to the opioid crisis. We need comprehensive and free or affordable treatment programs, supportive transitional housing, and restorative justice programs—not more jails or prisons.
Inflation has prices skyrocketing while wages stay flat, and the simplest solution to this problem is to tax the ultra-wealthy. A progressive wealth tax of 1-8% starting at $32 million is essential; this is a monetary policy tool that will have near-immediate effects on making your gallon of milk or gallon of gas more affordable. Overseas tax havens need to stop being an option for the ultra-wealthy, and international trade agreements can be used to prevent these offshore wealth hoards. These can also be tracked better by the IRS, who, due to underfunding, over-focus their auditing activities on lower and middle income people (it’s cheaper to audit a poor person with a simpler tax bill and no lawyer than it is to audit a billionaire). Funding the IRS and making sure they have the resources they need will allow them to ensure fair auditing of the people most likely to cheat: the very rich.
LGBTQ+ rights are human rights, and as a gay man, Derek is extremely concerned to see a new wave of anti-queer, anti-trans legislation sweeping the country in a coordinated fashion. Meanwhile, inequality is growing despite the fact that social acceptance is also growing.
We can—and must—put a stop to this spread of state-sanctioned discrimination with solid federal protections that mandate equality for LGBTQ+ folks of all ages, codifying protections and pulling an intersectional understanding of queer and trans issues into legislation across the board.
Currently, LGBTQ+ people are not federally protected against discrimination in the workplace, in housing, within public spaces and federally-funded programs, and even in jury service. We must expand public spaces protections to ensure that queer folks are safe in banks, within legal offices, and in retail spaces. The Equality Act has already passed the House of Representatives (though current CA-23 Representative Obernolte voted against it), but it’s stalled out on the wrong side of the filibuster in the Senate. We cannot wait any longer.
Federally-funded child welfare programs are still allowed to discriminate against foster and adoptive parents due to religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, and marital status. Kids need families and there are many queer families and single folks who are ready to provide safe and loving homes, but are discriminated against under religious or cultural pretexts. Further, a full ⅓ of children currently in foster care identify as LGBTQ+ and have been forced into the foster program because of rejection by their birth families. The Every Child Deserves a Family Act purposefully places kids with families that accept and celebrate their identities.
So-called “conversion therapy” is discredited by every major medical and mental health body and has shown to cause increased rates of death by suicide. It is fraudulent and it causes harm; allowing quack practitioners to continue with the practice is incredibly dangerous, particularly for LGBTQ+ youth.
By passing Medicare for All, we will ensure every single person is guaranteed the healthcare they deserve, which includes queer and trans folks, who currently face a disproportionate lack of healthcare access. Medicare for All will also ensure that no one is discriminated against for treatment based on their race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, or gender indentity, as well as ensuring that queer folks will stop accumulating disproportionate medical debt. Medicare for All must cover gender confirmation surgeries, hormone treatments, and voice therapy for trans folks. It also must cover mental healthcare and addiction treatment, and ensure that LGBTQ+ people have full and robust access to these services.
We must pass the Safe Schools Improvement Act and the Student Non-Discrimination Act to protect LGBTQ+ students in our schools. These acts include provisions that require schools to update their codes to prohibit bullying and harassment on the basis of race, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, and other personal traits, and mandates equal treatment by school staff.
LGBTQ+ people are more likely to be targeted by the police and more likely to be imprisoned than cisgender and heterosexual folks, and are significantly more likely to be the victims of violence within police custody and in prison. SESTA and FOSTA disproportionately affect LGBTQ+ sex workers and are weaponized against them more frequently; they must be repealed. Further, instead of arresting and harassing trans people at much higher rates than cis people, law enforcement agencies should investigate those who seek to harm trans people. This includes investigating all trans murders as hate crimes and federally prohibiting the so-called LGBTQ+ Panic Defense that too often dismisses murders and severe assaults.
LBGTQ+ people’s identities are criminalized in countries around the world and as such, make up a disproportionate number of asylum-seekers at the US Border. In order to recognize these unique vulnerabilities and uphold the values of freedom and dignity, we must expand our refugee admissions numbers for LGBTQ+ people, end harmful and discriminatory detention policies, and ensure that detention facilities of any kind, even very-short-term, are safe for LGBTQ+ migrants. Further, the US Government must address the unique needs of LGBTQ+ migrants by granting dedicated queer and trans-focused refugee service organizations like Rainbow Railroad recognized referral status.
LGBTQ+ Centers exist in cities across the country but the High Desert doesn’t yet have one. These centers provide meeting spaces for support groups and grassroots organizations, lending libraries, activity programs for LGBTQ+ teens, and so much more. Derek will fight for federal funding to bring one to Victorville.