grid Archives - Tom Prigg for Congress

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And it’s a lesson we need to remember today – as members of another Joshua generation. It’s time for us to change America. Some are eager to stoke the flames of division, and to stand in the way of progress.

And as I listened to him explain why he’d enlisted, the absolute faith he had in our country and its leaders, his devotion to duty and service, I thought this young man was all that any of us might hope for in a child. So it’s 1985, and I’m in Chicago, and I’m working with these churches, and with lots of laypeople who are much older than I am. And if we can do that – if we can embrace a common destiny – then I believe we’ll not just help bring about a more hopeful day in America, we’ll not just be caring for our own souls, we’ll be doing God’s work here on Earth.

I’m not talking about blind optimism here – the almost willful ignorance that thinks unemployment will go away if we just don’t think about it, or the health care crisis will solve itself if we just ignore it. I was too young to be involved in that movement, but I felt I could play a small part in the continuing battle for justice by helping rebuild some of Chicago’s poorest neighborhoods. That experience guides my conviction that partnership between America and Islam must be based on what Islam is, not what it isn’t. But that is not yet the case. Indeed, none of us should tolerate these extremists.

But at the end of the day, we cannot walk away – not for the sake of passing a bill, but so that we can finally address the real concerns of Americans and the persistent hopes of all those brothers and sisters who want nothing more than their own chance at our common dream. I would not be running for President if I didn’t believe with all my heart that this is what the vast majority of Americans want for this country. Yes, we must provide more ladders to success for young men who fall into lives of crime and despair. But all of us must recognize that education and innovation will be the currency of the 21st century, and in too many Muslim communities there remains underinvestment in these areas.

If there is a child on the south side of Chicago who can’t read, that matters to me, even if it’s not my child. But it does find voice in the barbershop or around the kitchen table. That is why there is a mosque in every state of our union, and over 1,200 mosques within our borders. That is not how moral authority is claimed; that is how it is surrendered. All of us have a responsibility to work for the day when the mothers of Israelis and Palestinians can see their children grow up without fear; when the Holy Land of three great faiths is the place of peace that God intended it to be; when Jerusalem is a secure and lasting home for Jews and Christians and Muslims, and a place for all of the children of Abraham to mingle peacefully together as in the story of Isra, when Moses, Jesus, and Mohammed (peace be upon them) joined in prayer.

Thank you. And may God’s peace be upon you.


More work to do for the workers I met in Galesburg, Ill., who are losing their union jobs at the Maytag plant that’s moving to Mexico, and now are having to compete with their own children for jobs that pay seven bucks an hour. I thought of the families I’ve met who were struggling to get by without a loved one’s full income, or whose loved ones had returned with a limb missing or nerves shattered, but who still lacked long-term health benefits because they were Reservists. And just as Lieutenant Kerry did not hesitate to risk his life to protect the men who served with him in Vietnam, President Kerry will not hesitate one moment to use our military might to keep America safe and secure. And I’m glad to see that. So America will defend itself respectful of the sovereignty of nations and the rule of law. This history is well known.

If you’re working forty hours a week, you shouldn’t be living in poverty. She sought out allies in her fight against injustice. “I’m here because of Ashley.” By itself, that single moment of recognition between that young white girl and that old black man is not enough. It is a sign of neither courage nor power to shoot rockets at sleeping children, or to blow up old women on a bus. But we should choose the right path, not just the easy path.

That they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights. That is the true genius of America – a faith in simple dreams,, an insistence on small miracles. The press has scoured every exit poll for the latest evidence of racial polarization, not just in terms of white and black, but black and brown as well. I suppose the politically safe thing would be to move on from this episode and just hope that it fades into the woodwork. But the record’s clear: John McCain has voted with George Bush ninety percent of the time. The fifth issue that we must address together is religious freedom.

I have a plan that would have already begun redeploying our troops with the goal of bringing all our combat brigades home by March 31st of next year. At times, that anger is exploited by politicians, to gin up votes along racial lines, or to make up for a politician’s own failings. But that same principle must apply to Muslim perceptions of America.

His father – my grandfather – was a cook, a domestic servant to the British. And finally they come to this elderly black man who’s been sitting there quietly the entire time. It should help us, not hurt us. We were founded upon the ideal that all are created equal, and we have shed blood and struggled for centuries to give meaning to those words – within our borders, and around the world.

Thank you.


They know we can do better. And as a consequence, so did I. Words alone cannot meet the needs of our people.

Go into the collar counties around Chicago, and people will tell you they don’t want their tax money wasted, by a welfare agency or by the Pentagon. Again and again, we’ve seen him make tough choices when easier ones were available. And I’m glad to see that. But we also know that government initiatives are not enough. So whatever we think of the past, we must not be prisoners of it. And we will welcome all elected, peaceful governments – provided they govern with respect for all their people.

And the lack of basic services in so many urban black neighborhoods – parks for kids to play in, police walking the beat, regular garbage pick-up and building code enforcement – all helped create a cycle of violence, blight and neglect that continue to haunt us. On November 4th, we must stand up and say: “Eight is enough.” But if we see this conflict only from one side or the other, then we will be blind to the truth: the only resolution is for the aspirations of both sides to be met through two states, where Israelis and Palestinians each live in peace and security. This construction violates previous agreements and undermines efforts to achieve peace. I know there has been controversy about the promotion of democracy in recent years, and much of this controversy is connected to the war in Iraq. So let me be clear: no system of government can or should be imposed upon one nation by any other.

And Democrats, we must also admit that fulfilling America’s promise will require more than just money. The times are too serious, the stakes are too high for this same partisan playbook.

Our pride is based on a very simple premise, summed up in a declaration made over two hundred years ago: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal. It was stained by this nation’s original sin of slavery, a question that divided the colonies and brought the convention to a stalemate until the founders chose to allow the slave trade to continue for at least twenty more years, and to leave any final resolution to future generations. The Bush-McCain foreign policy has squandered the legacy that generations of Americans – Democrats and Republicans – have built, and we are here to restore that legacy. It’s been about you. And today I am announcing a new global effort with the Organization of the Islamic Conference to eradicate polio.

God bless you.

Political Corruption

I pledge to never accept Wall Street money, or hold any investments or stocks in any company, while serving as a Congressman.

  • Campaign donations from corporations are business investments. US Representatives who accept corporate money are pressured to vote in their donors’ (not the voters’) best interests. That isn’t Democracy; that’s called a “plutocracy” – when the wealthiest control the government. Here are some real-life examples:
    • The August Kaiser Health Tracking Poll (2015) found that 72% of Americans think prescription drug prices are too high.1 And yet, we still have a 2003 law preventing our government from negotiating drug prices on our behalf despite many attempts to reverse it. Why? Maybe because the pharmaceutical industry has spent the most (>$3.5 billion) lobbying for the last two decades.2
    • The unpopular “individual mandate” of the ACA was lobbied for by insurance companies 3, which have spent the second most ($2.4 million) on lobbying from 1998-2016.4

I am in favor of a rank voting system to avoid “lesser of two evils” situations.5

I support allowing third parties to participate in presidential debates.

  • America has 320 million citizens; we need more than 2 parties to represent our diverse issues. Multiple parties provide balance would also help hold all parties and candidates accountable.
  • As your Congressman, I will support legislation to overturn Citizens United.

Civil Rights and Social Justice

I support equal rights for all human beings.

  • No one in America should be discriminated against based on their race, sex, religion, or sexual orientation.
  • America continues to suffer from racial inequity exacerbated by economic and socially constructed divides.
    • African-American students are more harshly punished than their white peers: they are 3X more likely to be suspended out-of-school than white students 1, which feeds into the school-to-prison pipeline.2
    • Stop-and-frisk policies disproportionately target Black and Hispanic men 3, which has led to unequal incarceration. For example, Black Americans comprise 40% of prisoners despite being only 13% of the population.4
    • People of Color earn an average of 25% less than their White peers.5
  • The civil rights of the LGBQT community have been under attack for decades, and legislation to officially limit their rights has dramatically risen in recent years.6
    • Marriage equality reduced suicide attempts of LGBTQ teens by 7%.7
  • I will vote against any law that attempts to legalize discrimination.

Student Debt

I support eliminating student debt and creating a free college infrastructure in the future.

  • American student debt is 1.3 trillion dollars 1, and is a huge burden for people straight out of college trying to create a new life.
  • 11.0% of student loan were 90+ days delinquent or in default at the end of 2016.2 As a nation, we put young people in debt that would normally be reserved for buying a house.
  • Elimination of this debt could drastically improve our economy, especially local economies, by strengthening the future middle class.
  • As your Congressman, I will work to provide necessary debt relief to students, and ultimately towards restructuring higher education to allow for tuition-free options for students in the future.


At various stages in the campaign, some commentators have deemed me either “too black” or “not black enough.” We saw racial tensions bubble to the surface during the week before the South Carolina primary. Why associate myself with Reverend Wright in the first place, they may ask? Why not join another church? And I confess that if all that I knew of Reverend Wright were the snippets of those sermons that have run in an endless loop on the television and You Tube, or if Trinity United Church of Christ conformed to the caricatures being peddled by some commentators, there is no doubt that I would react in much the same way And next week, we’ll also hear about those occasions when he’s broken with his party as evidence that he can deliver the change that we need. We seek no military bases there. But this much is clear: governments that protect these rights are ultimately more stable, successful and secure. Among some Muslims, there is a disturbing tendency to measure one’s own faith by the rejection of another’s.

Hope in the face of difficulty. Because whether it’s poverty or racism, the uninsured or the unemployed, war or peace, the challenges we face today are not simply technical problems in search of the perfect ten-point plan. And then another one. Indeed, none of us should tolerate these extremists. This history is well known.

The hope of a young naval lieutenant bravely patrolling the Mekong Delta. That’s what compromise is about.

It wasn’t until after college, when I went to Chicago to work as a community organizer for a group of Christian churches, that I confronted my own spiritual dilemma. And if we can do that – if we can embrace a common destiny – then I believe we’ll not just help bring about a more hopeful day in America, we’ll not just be caring for our own souls, we’ll be doing God’s work here on Earth. America’s strong bonds with Israel are well known. But it was not violence that won full and equal rights.

King delivered his prayer for our country. I have already condemned, in unequivocal terms, the statements of Reverend Wright that have caused such controversy. But that same principle must apply to Muslim perceptions of America.

Thank you very much everybody.

Criminal Justice Reforms

I support reinvesting in less costly rehabilitation and treatments for drug abuse and mental illness. The for-profit prison system values profit over people, and this must stop.

  • The US imprisons 4X more people than any other country in the world 1…even though violent crime rates have been decreasing for 20 years.2 Why is that?
  • Prisons were estimated to cost taxpayers $39 billion in fiscal year 2010; this equates to $31,286 / inmate / year.3
  • Many private prisons have negotiated “lockup quotas”, which requires law enforcement to arrest enough people or WE pay the difference.4
    • This guarantees prisons profit from our hard-earned tax money no matter what.
  • In 2015, 13.8% of all arrests were drug-related, non-violent offenses. We have over half a million people in prison for marijuana possession.5
  • An estimated 15-20% of inmates in jails and state prisons have a serious mental illness, or ~356,000 inmates.6 This is 10 times more than the ~35,000 individuals with serious mental illness remaining in state hospitals.
  • As your Congressman, I will support legislation to increase funding and invest in rehabilitation and treatment programs for prisoners, and am in favor of substance abuse treatment, in lieu of prison, for first time, nonviolent offenders. I also pledge to work hard towards ultimately reducing our reliance on the for-profit private prison syste

Universal Healthcare

I support the establishment of a universal healthcare system.

  • Americans should have access to quality medical care regardless of income.
    • In 2014, a report from the Commonwealth Fund ranked US healthcare worst in the developed world. In this report, the US “ranked last overall among 11 industrialized countries on measures of health system quality, efficiency, access to care, equity and healthy lives.” Significantly, the US was found to have vastly higher costs while also displaying the lowest performance.1
  • Universal healthcare isn’t simply economically sound, it’s a right.
  • As your Representative, I will vote against legislation that would cut funding or limit access to rural, community, or women’s centers. I will fight to reduce out-of-pocket expenses and prescription costs, and seek to abolish annual and lifetime caps on coverage. I will fight to ensure coverage cannot be denied or cost more due to pre-existing conditions.


We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of us defending the United States of America. What we have already achieved gives us hope – the audacity to hope – for what we can and must achieve tomorrow. With profound gratitude and great humility, I accept your nomination for the presidency of the United States. Washington’s been talking about our oil addiction for the last thirty years, and John McCain has been there for twenty-six of them. Likewise, it is important for Western countries to avoid impeding Muslim citizens from practicing religion as they see fit – for instance, by dictating what clothes a Muslim woman should wear.

Go into the collar counties around Chicago, and people will tell you they don’t want their tax money wasted, by a welfare agency or by the Pentagon. Now is the time to finally keep the promise of affordable, accessible health care for every single American. The relationship between Islam and the West includes centuries of co-existence and cooperation, but also conflict and religious wars.

These people are a part of me. America, now is not the time for small plans. Kennedy called our “intellectual and moral strength.” Yes, government must lead on energy independence, but each of us must do our part to make our homes and businesses more efficient. Don’t tell me that Democrats won’t keep us safe. That’s why we’re partnering with a coalition of forty-six countries.

They know they have to work hard to get ahead – and they want to. And in exchange, I’ll ask for higher standards and more accountability. As a young man, I worked in Chicago communities where many found dignity and peace in their Muslim faith. There need not be contradiction between development and tradition.

His father – my grandfather – was a cook, a domestic servant to the British. And yet, it has only been in the last couple of weeks that the discussion of race in this campaign has taken a particularly divisive turn. Now let there be no doubt. I will rebuild our military to meet future conflicts.

Thank you, and God bless America.