On the Issues
Hi, my name is Dan Smith, and I humbly ask for your vote for U.S. Congress.
Income inequality doesn’t just affect individuals and families; it is a systemic social problem that we must begin to solve head-on. The insidious effects of income inequality, and inequality of outcomes based on race, gender, class, sexual orientation, and a whole host of other arbitrary factors, is to my mind, one of the key drivers behind the discord present in modern America. Since this is a systemic issue, I recognize that there are hundreds of legislative steps that can be proposed in the House from Day One of the next session.
With that in mind, my platform is framed entirely around the issue of addressing income inequality in a balanced, thoughtful, and most importantly, constructive way. My main goal in Congress is to do right by not only the people of the 9th Congressional District of Washington State, but to do right by each and every person who calls this country home. I believe that we are stronger when we work together, and I hope to be able to bring that spirit to Washington, DC as your elected Representative to the U.S. Congress in 2017.
War and Peace
According to analysts at the Pentagon, the biggest threat to global security, and therefore our way of life, is climate change. I agree with the vast majority of scientists, and our smartest minds in the national security apparatus, that climate change represents an evolving, dynamic existential threat. In light of that sobering fact, we need to seriously rethink the way that our energy policy tends to intersect with our foreign policy. To put it another way, we have spent far too much time, effort, money, and lives in pursuit of petroleum.
Now that the United States is on track to again become a world leader in the production of hydrocarbon energy, it is time to put this dirty energy to use powering the creation of a green economy that will work with the planet instead of against it. Drawing down our foreign military commitments will not only save us money. The way I see it, a constructive demobilization will include a guaranteed high-skilled, meaningful job for each returning veteran, as well as the option to attend college or university, all while making America a safer place.
We must rebuild our crumbling infrastructure. We should not be building new bombers, and clogging our rail lines with dirty coal to fuel an overseas war machine. This means creating and training for green energy jobs in wind and solar and expanded rail to and from our ports. We need to open up rail and roads to mass-transit to accommodate the booming tech sector workforce. There’s no reason we can’t build the wind turbines, solar panels, trains, and buses right here in Washington.
An Economy That Works For Everyone
We must have a living wage. End of story. We also need to get back to basics and think about what a wage really is, and what it isn’t. What are paid benefits, and what are rights, and how do we provide for the poorest of our citizens. There are a lot of efficiencies to be found under a single-payer healthcare system that are unimaginable in the current for-profit system, for example.
Removing the stress and anxiety of worrying about how to afford college is most assuredly an investment that I believe is worth making. Increasing the amount of subsidized housing stock through smart management can mean that homelessness in this country is a thing of the past. I wholeheartedly support the rights of workers to organize, as well as expanding the tools that workers and unions have at their disposal. We must ensure that all workers — from the old economy to the new — have access to the same rights and privileges in the workplace.
I believe that a nationwide $15 minimum wage is an essential first step towards a more just economy. I also believe that we need to do more to help our young entrepreneurs grow their startups, small businesses, and freelance careers. Finding ways to encourage developers or potential tenants to add value to unused local spaces in their community will be a priority of mine.
I do not support the Trans-Pacific Partnership, nor any other trade deal hammered out in secret by corporate lobbyists, with no public transparency. I stand in solidarity with working people, and believe that stable, rewarding jobs that add social and environmental value, in addition to generating monetary value, are an essential part of a healthy, and happy, society. TPP and similar deals are a race to the bottom for the American worker, and only serve corporate interests at the cost of workers rights, the environment, and the health of people around the globe.
No individual or corporation should be turning a profit off of your health concerns. That is why I believe that single payer isn’t just the smartest and most cost-effective way to deliver quality healthcare to the American people. I believe that we have a moral responsibility to keep making progress on this front. We must also make sure that President Obama’s legacy paves the way for single payer to finally be available to each and every American citizen, not just to our military families, government officials, and senior citizens. Medicare currently operates at about an 8 percent overhead; private insurers can sometimes spend up to 30 percent of their incoming revenue (your premium payments) on their own overhead costs. On a very basic level, that kind of arrangement seems like the American people just aren’t getting their money’s worth when it comes to their healthcare.
On July 1st, the Medical Marijuana dispensaries across Washington were forced to close their doors due to the new recreational legalization law (I-502). This has cost Washington jobs and created a healthcare crisis for those who relied on CBD oil and other painkillers derived from MMJ. At a time when traditional prescription medication prices are shooting through the roof, and opioid addictions are causing tens of thousands of deaths, we should not be cutting off access to MMJ. Marijuana should be completely removed from the Federal Controlled Substances list. It has no place being listed in Schedule I next to killer drugs like heroin. We need common sense, compassionate reform surrounding drugs and alternative pain treatments.
Fixing A Corrupt Campaign Finance System
This election has unfortunately proven that there is a real need for serious reform of our election practices. I find it unacceptable that the Federal Election Commission appears, by the admission of its own members, to not be able to fulfill its basic function of overseeing our electoral process. To me, money does not equal speech, and corporations are not people. I support any and all efforts to overturn Citizens United, set up national standards for business registration and ownership, and work to pass legislation that mandates automatic voter registration upon one’s 18th birthday, and a yearly civics component in our high schools.
While Washington is ahead of most states in terms of renewable energy, we need to be doing more, and the rest of the country needs to get on board with creating a modern, 100% renewable energy grid. Completing the transition away from fossil fuels to clean, renewable energy sources is essential for the long-term health and safety of the American people, and the planet. A managed transition to 100% renewable energy, including next-generation photovoltaic technology, wind turbines, distributed energy storage, and tidal and geothermal energy capture. This will go a long way towards making sure that we can survive and thrive, despite the unpredictable nature of the negative effects of climate change. Transitioning to a clean, green economy will bring quality jobs to the state, spur scientific advancement at our universities, boost our economy in the near-term, and create systemic cost savings in the mid- to long-run. Sustainable power isn’t just important for our future climate, the positive effects of switching to renewables will be apparent immediately — starting with no more spills, no more oil trains, and no more coal dust in our atmosphere.
Fracking Must Stop
The destructive act of hydraulic fracturing (hydrofracking, or fracking) includes drilling a well and injecting high pressure water, sand, and chemicals deep down into the earth to gain access to pockets of natural gas. Unfortunately, due to the intense lobbying by the oil and gas industries, companies are not required to disclose what type or volume of chemicals they are pumping down into these wells. Made possible by lobbyists, and often referred to as the “Halliburton Loophole,” the Energy Policy Act of 2005 exempted fracking from the Safe Drinking Water Act.
The chemicals used for hydrofracking are flammable, carcinogenic, and endocrine disrupters. These chemicals, along with the extracted methane, end up seeping into our groundwater, which then contaminates our drinking water. Methane leaks are normal occurrences at hydraulic fracturing sites, and are a top contributor to climate change, as well as an incipient danger to our population. Our communities, and especially our young, elderly, and immunocompromised neighbors, face tremendous health risks when exposed to these chemicals.
Personally, I can’t justify fracking as a bridge between dirty coal and clean energy. The simple fact is this isn’t something that I’d be comfortable allowing to happen on my property, where it could negatively affect my family’s health, and it sure isn’t something that I’d be happy with if it was on my neighbor’s land, either. At the end of the day, that is why I support a national moratorium on fracking. We must work together to put the quality of our drinking water and health of our communities first.
Using Technology To Enhance Our Community
Over the past twenty-five years, technology has fundamentally transformed the cultural, social, and economic landscape of America. And now, in 2016, it’s beginning to change the political landscape. Yet our federal government remains behind the times, both in terms of how we regulate technology and how we use technology to serve the people. That’s why I support a free and open Internet for all. I will fight for net neutrality against misguided efforts to weaken encryption standards, and in favor of strong privacy protections for all users. I am opposed to the monopolistic practices of the major telecommunications companies, and believe that states and municipalities should be encouraged to build public fiber networks to provide affordable Internet access to all communities.
I believe the government must reevaluate its relationship with technology to reflect the realities of the 21st century. The state now possesses immense power to learn the intimate details of citizens lives, and that power must be carefully examined in light of the ideals enshrined in the Constitution. Further, we should use technology to hold government officials—whether they are police officers or senators—accountable to the public. We should find ways to increase the efficiency of government programs and departments through intelligent, creative approaches to modernization, reducing the size of the bureaucracy while providing increased benefit to the public.
Technologies just on the horizon promise even more changes to the way we live our lives and the way our government serves the people. Drones and autonomous vehicles, machine learning and artificial intelligence, commercial spaceflight, and breakthroughs in green energy will keep us on a fast pace of change. I am committed to making sure that the government reacts to these changes in a way that preserves our liberties and maximizes social welfare.
Education is a right, and not a privilege. I do not believe that financial circumstances should prevent anyone from completing the highest level of education that they are able to reach. I do not agree that our best and brightest young adults should be stuck paying off student loans when they should be investing in their futures, creating social and economic value, and enjoying their youth. We need to make sure that every child in America has genuine access to quality education from pre-kindergarten to post-doctorate, should they choose. On a state level, our public school system is being held hostage by a small group who are putting their interests before our children’s future. Failing to fully fund education in accordance with our state’s Supreme Court ruling is something that may even have to be escalated to a federal issue, if local lawmakers are not able to work towards a sustainable compromise.
I do not believe that women should be discriminated against while at the doctor’s office, or at the pharmacy, simply due to their gender. I support a universal healthcare system where every American can get the healthcare that they need, when they need it.
I recognize that there is a public health crisis in the form of domestic violence and especially violence towards members of the transgender community. This is one of the many reasons why I believe that we have to do a better job at providing quality subsidized public housing stock where it is needed. A safe place to come home to at the end of the day should be an essential part of every American’s life, not a luxury product for sale on the open market.
No one should be constrained by their physical characteristics or outward appearance. I do not support the so-called “bathroom bills” which only aim to humiliate and shame citizens in public spaces.