By Eric Curry
For decades, San Francisco and the wider Bay Area community have produced progressive leaders who have changed how our country thinks about the LGBT+ community, the disabled community, the Black community, and so many more. We pride ourselves on this capacity for driving change — and that should be reflected in our elected officials.
I believe it’s time for San Francisco to have a progressive leader in Congress, and that’s why I’m running to represent California’s 12th District.
Many people come to this decision after a lifetime of political aspiration. But others, like me, feel the call to serve after watching years of steadily concentrating wealth and power in the hands of the few. Today, America’s 664 billionaires control almost twice as much wealth as the bottom half of the entire country. And small business owners, like me, aren’t afforded the same bailouts and safety nets our government gives giant corporations.
When the Covid-19 pandemic hit, my own small business flatlined. As a pet care professional, my business depended on people going out, or going on vacation. But as those who were able to stay at home, I found myself in the same situation as so many other service industry professionals and small business owners. Our government prioritized wealthy insiders and large corporations for help, as millions of us without connections were left behind. The American economy needs to work for all Americans. Small business success should be valued as much as shareholder profits. And keeping the doors open should not be predicated on who you know.
This won’t be easy, but unless we get corporate money out of politics with significant campaign finance reform, corporate voices will continue to be louder than ours and these corrupt practices will continue. We need to close tax loopholes that allow corporations to pay lower taxes than the people who work there. And we need at least a $15 minimum wage.
We can create a more equal, just society by increasing the average worker’s power and financial security. But what if that worker gets sick?
Medical bills account for two thirds of all the personal bankruptcies in this country — and many of those people have health insurance. And for many of us, that insurance is tied to our job. That means that people are often faced with impossible choices. Whether because of a global pandemic, caregiving obligations, or wanting to step out on their own as an entrepreneur as I did, people should be able to stay safe, support their families and pursue their dreams without having to worry about losing their insurance.
Medicare for All is the solution. By creating a single-payer system that eliminates our overly complex system of networks, co-pays, and surprise bills, we can make healthcare better and cheaper, and ensure no one ever goes without care because they’re unable to pay for it.
But healthcare isn’t the only unaffordable necessity in America. As college degrees become increasingly necessary to finding even an entry-level job, costs are skyrocketing — and more and more average Americans are unable to pay for college without massive debt.
The burden of student loan debt is holding back millions of Americans from buying a home, starting a family, or starting a business. Immediate student loan forgiveness is not only a rational solution to an existential economic challenge, it is, quite simply, the moral thing to do.
Without action on low wages, high healthcare costs, and the enormous expense of higher education, the very existence of the American middle class is under threat. We deserve a country where we all have the opportunity to have fulfilling lives.
But of course, none of this will matter if we don’t address climate change.
We must take action now, and we can do so in a way that will also create massive economic opportunity for our country — the Green New Deal. We can and should build sustainability into everything we do, and embrace new ideas and technologies that will not only create new jobs for the 21st century, but also ensure our grandchildren will see the 22nd.
We have been through so much in the past year. We’ve missed birthdays, holidays, and the simple pleasures of everyday life. We’ve lived with persistent anxiety about getting sick, losing a job, or losing a loved one. But with hope on the horizon, we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to rebuild our country into what we all want it to be — and what we know it can be.
Eric Curry is a candidate for the United States House of Representatives in California’s 12th district