On June 25th, voters will go to the polls to decide who will fill Secretary of State John Kerry’s vacant Senate seat. While it is a special election, the choice voters make is just like any other. It’s about more than picking a name on a ballot. It’s about who will best address the most pressing issues we face here in the Commonwealth and in our country — issues like reducing gun violence, protecting women’s rights, defending Social Security, and balancing our budget in a smart, effective way.
I believe keeping our streets, schools and communities safe should be our top priority. It’s been six months since our country endured the horrific shooting at Sandy Hook elementary school where 20 children and six educators died. Assault weapons are weapons of war, designed to cause maximum harm on the battlefield. It’s up to us to prevent them from harming our kids on the schoolyard.
I believe we need to ban assault weapons. We need to ban high magazine clips that allow shooters to fire dozens of rounds without pausing to reload. That’s the kind of legislation I will advocate for in the U.S. Senate.
When it comes to priorities and women’s rights, this week, the Republican-led House of Representatives showed us where they stand. They passed a bill to restrict the constitutionally protected rights ensured by the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision.
Republicans have made it clear that they think women’s rights are still up for discussion. Thankfully, the Senate has been a firewall against extreme Republican legislation. I believe Massachusetts should send a senator to Washington to fortify that firewall. I will go to the Senate to protect women’s rights.
And on the issue of the budget, Social Security and other safety net programs are placed at the top of the Republicans’ chopping block. But people have contributed to Social Security throughout their entire lives. Social Security is not an entitlement. It is an earned benefit. In the Senate, I will fight to defend Social Security from cavalier cuts.
I know how important social safety-net programs are. My mother was the president of her high school class. But after her mother died, she had to sacrifice her dreams of going to college to take care of her younger siblings. Before the New Deal, that was America’s social safety net: One of the girls will have to stay home. Now, Republicans want to cut those safety nets that allow Americans to keep pursuing their dreams.
I believe budgets are about priorities. Before we make any more devastating cuts on the backs of working class families, on the sick, on the elderly, let’s talk about the entitlements that Republicans have championed. Let’s talk about the entitlements for Big Oil. Those companies get $40 billion in tax breaks, even as they tip us upside down at the gas pump every week. Let’s talk about the entitlements for new nuclear weapons programs. They want $100 billion for new nuclear weapons that we don’t need and we can’t afford. Let’s talk about the entitlements that big corporations get for overseas tax evasion. Let’s cut those entitlements before we let Republicans balance the budget on the backs of the poor, the sick and the elderly.
At the core, this election comes down to a choice of priorities. Will we finally get real gun control on the books? I will fight for a ban on assault weapons and high capacity magazine clips. Will we finally move past the debate over women’s access to reproductive health care and focus on advancing women’s health? I will defend a woman’s right to choose. Will we make sure seniors can enjoy a secure retirement? I will protect Social Security for this generation and the next.
That’s what I stand for. And I know just how lucky I am to be on the ballot to take that message to the U.S. Senate.
My father grew up on the first floor of a triple-decker on Philips Street in South Lawrence. My grandparents were immigrants from Ireland and they raised their five children there. A few years ago, I went back to that same triple-decker to see who lived there now. I rang the doorbell; the door opened and it was a Dominican-American family with their children. The accents were different, but the aspirations were clearly the same. They want for their children what the Markeys wanted for theirs.
I think that’s the responsibility of anyone who goes to the United States Senate: to ensure that every child on every porch, in every city and town across Massachusetts and our country is able to achieve the American Dream.
That’s what I’ll fight for as your U.S. senator and that’s why I respectfully ask for your vote on June 25.