“My name is Jonathan Pressman, and I’m running for the United States Senate as a Progressive Democrat. For too long, our government from the top down has put the interests of the rich ahead of those of the middle class, and the interests of the political establishment ahead of those of its constituents. The result is a nation that favors the few over the many, and a Democratic Party that has lost it’s way. While Wall Street enjoys record profits, the working class continues to be marginalized. And while the people are calling for change, our political elites in Rhode Island and elsewhere remain tone deaf. Centrist politics always benefit the right, and inevitably the rich. Such is the case in Rhode Island, where our own Democratic establishment continues to stifle our will for change. I will not tolerate this for another second, and neither should you.
“What we need is a new deal for Rhode Island, starting with an increase in the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour. Starvation wages aren’t cutting it anymore. Instead of giving away our hard earned tax dollars to billionaires, which is probably about as productive as flushing our money down the toilet, I will fund free higher education. Instead of strengthening the military industrial complex, and those who hold stock in it, I will fund new infrastructure projects right here in Rhode Island, such as rebuilding the 6/10 connector, increasing RIPTA and commuter rail service, and rebuilding and repairing our crumbling roads, bridges and railways. I will take full advantage of our harbor in Providence, which happens to be the second deepest port in the nation. This will allow Rhode Island to become a hub of global shipping which will attract at wealth of domestic and international investment to our state. I will push for the legalization of marijuana as a taxable resource to deduce our staggering national debt. And I will battle night and day for medicare for all, because healthcare is a human right, not a privilege of the few.
“Some of you will no doubt be skeptical of my proposals. I don’t blame you. For years, we’ve been fed the same crap about how it’s impossible or impractical for a government to help it’s citizens. We’ve been labeled radicals for wanting the same things that every other country in the developed world has. And we’ve been fed the worst lie of all: that the rich deserve success and security, and that the poor are lazy. As a result, our country has the lowest rate of upward mobility in the western world. If you are born poor, you are likely to die poor. And if you are a person of color, you are likely to end up more socioeconomically disadvantaged than your parents, no matter how hard you work. It’s time to send the great grand daddy of all zombie lies, trickle down economics, back to the grave forever. If you want to rebuild an economy, you start from the bottom up. You fund the people who actually spend money and don’t hoard it, which is you and me.
“The key to funding a new deal for Rhode Island and the rest of America is amazingly simple and will be quickly accomplished by taking two easy steps. First, we must compel the rich to pay their fair share of taxes, and therefore end the toxic culture of corporate welfare. If a full time employee still has to be on food stamps, then who is real welfare recipient? The company that employs them, that’s who. If billionaires, corporations and CEOs want free handouts, they’re going to have to earn them through fair labor practices. After all, charity starts at home, doesn’t it?
“Second, I will work ceaselessly to end the costly wars, slash wasteful military spending and break the back of the cancerous military industrial complex. A recent bombing raid in Syria cost about $500 million, which is enough money to replace all of the lead piping in Flint, Michigan about ten times over. Which would you rather have?
“If we have the guts to follow those two easy steps, our economic woes are solved. It’s a no-brainer.
“In regards to the imminent threat posed by climate change, I will enact legislation that will give our state and our nation clean, renewable power in the form of wind and solar energy, and I will vigorously oppose the fossil fuel industry. Though I commend Senator Whitehouse for calling attention to climate change while in Washington, he has failed to take a stand against the proposed fracked gas power plant in Burrillville. Nor has he voiced any opposition to the so-called LNG bomb trains which ferry tank loads of volatile chemicals throughout south Providence, which is an ecological disaster waiting to happen. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse’s hypocrisy on environmental issues is hard to ignore. As your Senator, I will throw my full weight against both of these issues. Furthermore, I will push for the public ownership of all power plants. No longer will you have to worry about National Grid cutting off your heat and electricity in the dead of winter through the flick of a switch somewhere in England. You won’t have to worry about greedy price hikes like the ones we’ve recently seen here either.
Can you help us?
Funding for our reporting relies on the generosity of readers like you. Our independence allows us to write stories that hold RI state and local government officials accountable. All of our stories are free and available to everyone. But your support is essential to keeping Steve and Will on the beat, covering the costs of reporting many stories in a single day. If you are able to, please support Uprise RI. Every contribution, big or small is so valuable to us. You provide the motivation and financial support to keep doing what we do. Thank you.
“In America right now, there are a total of about 800,000 persons enrolled in the DACA program. There are about 3.6 million undocumented people who entered America as children, and know no other home. And there are over 11 million undocumented people in the US in total. We’ve seemingly forgotten that these people exist, and that’s a big problem because to abandon them is fundamentally unAmerican. These are our friends and neighbors. Not only are they a part of our community, they are an integral part of our lives. They work hard. They bust their asses. They prepare our food. They take out our trash. They drive our trucks. They attended our school and universities. They watch our children while they sleep. They are, for all intents and purposes, loyal, patriotic and hardworking Americans. The cruel and racist policies of Donald Trump have put their futures, and in many cases their very lives, in immediate jeopardy. I pledge to you right now that I will lay it all on the line for these hard working folks and will not stop until they are protected with legal status. I will resist any legislative or executive attempt to dehumanize them with every democratic weapon in my arsenal, including the use of filibusters, and, if necessary, hunger strikes. I will call on my fellow senate democrats to do the same.
“And why not? We’re Democrats. Either the party has meaning or it doesn’t.
“And in case you are wondering, I will fully support the impeachment of President Trump. Though many of my fellow Democrats are afraid of this, I will not flinch. And I will never, ever, under any circumstances, lend support, tacit or otherwise, to the criminal, immoral and unpatriotic agenda of the Trump administration and the Republican Party which aids and abets him. No more compromising on Obamacare, a roll back here and a roll back there. No more putting another cent towards Trump’s stupid wall. And no more confirming incompetent and dangerous nominees as my opponent has done. There are some Democrats who may tell themselves that its easier to avoid a confrontation with a bully than to punch him right in his nose. Maybe they’re right, but they’re coming from a place of fundamental insecurity about themselves and their platform. My conscience is clean, I believe in where I’m coming from, I know what I am and I am NOT afraid.
“Now let me tell you something that you already know. If you want change, real change, then you are going to have to fight for it, tooth and nail. And that means chucking incumbents out and getting new blood and new ideas in. It means fighting the rich and the political establishment. It’s not going to be easy, and you may feel discouraged at times. And when that happens, I want you to remember who YOU are and what YOU are not. You are NOT a commodity, you are not a statistic on a spread sheet or a number on a profit margin, you are a human being. You are somebody, a unique individual with hopes and dreams and aspirations and a human heart and a human spirit, a person with a voice that will be heard and felt in every home and school and workplace and unemployment line in Rhode Island on election day.
“I don’t want you to get discouraged. I don’t want you to give up. And I don’t want you to stay home.
“I want you to fight back.”
[From a press release]