Affordable and Accessible Healthcare
This is a national priority for the Democratic Party, and I strongly agree that our nation needs solutions to our healthcare challenges. There are too many people in our country, particularly in Alabama, who cannot afford even basic healthcare needs. I support expanding affordable healthcare options and strengthening healthcare coverage for our most vulnerable residents.
Reduce Student Loan Debt
Pew Research Center reported in August 2017 that “Americans owed more than $1.3 trillion in student loans at the end of June, more than two and a half times what they owed a decade earlier.”
Americans should not be burdened with years, or even decades, of loan debt to earn a degree from a college or university. An educated citizenry is crucial to a healthy democracy, and I will promote and support efforts at the federal level to create ways to reduce current student loan debt, minimize future student debt, and explore options for fiscally responsible debt forgiveness programs.
Promote Career and Technical Education
I come from a family of public educators, and we have always recognized Career and Technical Education (CTE) as a vital component of our communities’ successes. The Alabama Department of Education describes CTE as “the foundation for our state’s future.” I agree.
North Alabama is rich with opportunities for employees with industrial and technical training, and our state’s long-term success depends on having a workforce that is educated, skilled, and employment-ready. Career and Technical Education, at both the high school and community college levels, is vital for building and sustaining a strong middle class, and it is crucial to promoting innovation. All of this requires a strong partnership between federal and state governments, and I will actively promote legislation and initiatives that address our country’s Career and Technical Education needs, including CTE teacher training.
Protect Free Expression
I spent many years of my professional life as a broadcast journalist, and I am now a professor of mass communication. The First Amendment, which includes free press and free speech guarantees, is one of the buttresses of American democracy.
Elected officials from federal to local levels increasingly show a reckless disregard for free expression and disdain for journalists in particular. This is dangerous to our democracy. The United States ranks 43 in the Reporters Without Borders 2017 World Press Freedom Index. That is embarrassing. I will use my position in Congress to relentlessly support free expression, and as an educator, I will actively speak about why protecting free expression and promoting a free press are vital to our country’s future success.
As a member of the Society of Professional Journalists, I will be an advocate for passage of a federal shield law, which would help journalists protect themselves (in certain circumstances) from federal coercion to reveal their sources, particularly when those sources serve as whistleblowers. States have overwhelmingly recognized the value of such protections, yet the federal government has failed to address the matter.
Defend Human Rights in North Korea
This is the most important foreign affairs issue of my campaign. Any future negotiations with North Korea regarding its nuclear program must include a demand that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (the North’s official name) close all of its prison, labor, and “reeducation” camps. More than 120,000 North Koreans are currently imprisoned in them, many simply for being in the “wrong” family or for expressing political opinions deemed unacceptable by the government. This is one of the worst humanitarian crises of our time.
I believe North Korea will continue pursuing its nuclear plans despite international sanctions, so it is important for the United States to work with its global partners to find a solution for this issue. In Congress, I will support sustained, practical diplomatic efforts to solve this challenge. I will not support preemptive military action under any circumstances. There will be a continued need for the United States to maintain its defense agreements with South Korea and Japan, and north Alabama’s defense industry will play a vital role in maintaining stability in northeast Asia.