Rep. Greta Neubauer: Elizabeth Warren will fight to restore our democracy
Rep. Greta Neubauer: Elizabeth Warren will fight to restore our democracy
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Rep. Greta Neubauer: Elizabeth Warren will fight to restore our democracy

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Rep. Greta Neubauer

Rep. Greta Neubauer  

When I ask people in my hometown of Racine what they are discussing at the dinner table, they share all sorts of things. We talk about everything from the desperate need for quality, affordable health care to concern about our public schools, climate change and the search for a good job.

These topics might seem disparate. But just underneath the surface, something ties them together. It’s the fear, always felt but rarely spoken, that our best times might be behind us.

Our city in southeast Wisconsin is struggling. We’ve had the highest unemployment rate in the state for my entire lifetime. We’ve been named among the worst places to live in the country if you’re black.

When I was growing up, my Dad often talked about his classmates who, whether or not they got their high school diploma, could get a good, union job with benefits and the promise of stability at the Case tractor plant. Now that those kinds of jobs have all but disappeared and the number of vacant and foreclosed homes continues to climb, we’re all waiting for what comes next.

One of the reasons Racine is facing these challenges is that our government hasn’t prioritized communities such as ours. Our country is facing the worst economic inequality since before the Great Depression, and we feel that personally in Racine. Why has this happened? Why do people tell me at their doors that they don’t think their children will ever be able to retire, when our collective wealth as a nation continues to rise?

I believe the heart of the problem is that we’ve been careless with our democracy. We’ve allowed voting rights to be restricted, money to become speech, and politicians to be purchased.

Here in Wisconsin, we know a little something about what happens when corporations start buying elections. For 10 years, we’ve been the Koch Brothers’ testing ground. We’ve seen corruption, gerrymandering and anti-democratic rule changes to benefit those in power. Despite the odds being stacked against working people, we’ve recently started winning. But we can’t turn things around on our own.

A presidential election is coming up next year, and only one candidate centers her entire campaign on the notion that without a functioning democracy, we won’t make progress on any of the issues we hold dear. That candidate is Elizabeth Warren.

U.S. Sen. Warren, D-Mass., knows that when the integrity of our democracy falters, so does our ability to have a government of, by and for the people. Warren knows that the first step toward healing our nation begins with our “need to tackle the corruption in Washington that makes our government work for the wealthy and well-connected, but kicks dirt on everyone else, and put economic and political power in the hands of the people.” She has concrete plans for turning things around, including closing the revolving door between government and industry, ending the influence of corporate money in politics, and restoring voting rights.

After President Donald Trump was elected, I moved back home and I ran for office. I realized we were at great risk of people losing faith in the democratic process. I realized that we all had to do whatever we could not to let Trump convince us to give up. When he tells us it doesn’t matter if we engage, we have to show up. When he says our best days are behind us, we have to tell him that he is wrong.

I am all in for Warren because she knows what is at stake if we accept defeat. She knows that we have a lot of work to do to restore our democracy. But like she has for her entire life, she is ready to roll up her sleeves and fight.

Warren believes we deserve better. She believes better is possible. I think she’s right.

Neubauer, D-Racine, represents the 66th Assembly District.

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