Democrats and Republicans are not really enemies

The Telegraph’s Nov. 23 editorial, “Choosing a nominee,” posited that beating Donald Trump in 2020 will take a lot more than just listing his many shortcomings – it will take a vision, and a plan to make that vision real. I couldn’t agree more.

We can take a cue from the past as we plan our future. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1941 outlined four freedoms on which every American should be able to rely: freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, freedom from fear.

Now is our time to restore a fifth, uniquely American freedom: the freedom to dream. It’s the dream that our parents dreamed for us, and that we all dream for our own kids – that the future will be brighter, healthier, more prosperous than today.

I know we can do this. I feel it in my bones as the son of a cop and a mom who raised four boys and worked every imaginable odd job to get us ahead, as the first in my family to go to college, and as the proud, hopeful father of two young children.

When you can count on your job and paycheck, you are free to dream. The economy isn’t the stock market, the gross domestic product, or the unemployment rate; it’s you, and your ability to make ends meet while saving for the future. No American should have to work three jobs just to pay rent. We need tax reform supporting companies that pay and treat employees well, deferred payroll taxes for new small businesses in economically depressed downtowns, a higher federal minimum wage, pay equity for women, restored labor protections, trade deals bringing good-paying U.S. jobs without selling out human rights abroad, and up to 12 weeks of paid family leave.

When sickness or injury can’t bankrupt you, you are free to dream. Your health, your life must not be a commodity; every American must have quality, affordable health care, including preventative services, regardless of economic background or medical history. No American should ever go broke paying for treatment. We must stop undermining the Affordable Care Act, and instead work together to expand and improve it on our way to a Medicare For All universal guarantee. We should invest heavily and focus our technological advances on curing diseases from ALS to Alzheimer’s to cancer.

When your voice is heard and you are represented in government by another citizen rather than special interests, corporations or foreign powers, you are free to dream. The U.S. Supreme Court has left democracy struggling under the weight of dirty maps and dirty money. All states need independent, nonpartisan citizens’ commissions to draw Congressional districts so voters’ voices aren’t silenced by gerrymandering. The Citizens United ruling must be countered by requiring full transparency in political spending, and then neutralized with a constitutional amendment. And we must ensure that our top elected officials aren’t enriching themselves from abroad.

When you, your children, and your community are better educated and better connected, you are free to dream. Every American community, regardless of income or location, deserves world-class public schools with cutting-edge technology and high-quality teachers to put our kids on the road to success and happiness. Any American who wants post-secondary education must be able to afford it without incurring a lifetime of student loan debt. And net neutrality must be restored so that all Americans can connect, learn and thrive online with an even playing field.

When you feel safe in your community, you are free to dream. No right is more important than the right to live, and Americans shouldn’t fear a hail of bullets in school, at concerts, in church or synagogue, at movie theaters, or anywhere else. We must have full background checks for all gun owners, better funding and oversight of state records shared with the National Instant Background Check System, a national gun violence restraining order system, and funding for gun violence research. We should ban possession of military-style semiautomatic assault weapons, buy back such weapons from all who abide by the law, and prosecute those who don’t.

When America is strong based on its principles and not just its military might, you are free to dream. Our nation leads best when it leads by example, standing up for our values even when that’s hard. We don’t give so-called “allies” a pass for committing atrocious crimes just because objecting could jeopardize our cash flow or gas prices. It means standing up to dictators, not lauding them. It means abiding by the deals we make on climate change, arms, and trade.

The dream isn’t partisan. I come from an all-Republican family, and I married an Indiana Hoosier who comes from the same. Democrats and Republicans aren’t enemies as this president wants us to believe. We’re one nation, under God, indivisible, and together we can dream and achieve a better America.

U.S. Rep. Eric Swalwell was re-elected last month to a fourth term serving California’s 15th Congressional District. Follow him on Twitter at @EricSwalwell.