Racism, Immigration and Human Rights

Question 1: The murder of George Floyd is prompting a national discussion concerning our nation’s failure to fully address historic racial injustice. What is the role of Congress in defining and addressing historic injustices? What measures will you promote as a member of the United States Congress to combat racial injustice?

In the face of injustice, a leader needs to do three things: listen, speak out, and act.  And that’s exactly what Congress needs to be doing at this pivotal moment in our history:

Congress must listen to the passionate outcry from Americans who are heartbroken and outraged at the murder of George Floyd.  Of Breonna Taylor.  Of Ahmaud Arbery.  Their murders are all too familiar to members of the African American community across this country. Even after the groundbreaking achievements of the Civil Rights Era, too many of our Black and Brown people continue to suffer unjustly from racist policing, a biased court system, impediments to their voting rights, and chronic poverty.

And Congress must also speak out clearly.  We must affirm that Black Lives Matter.  We must make clear that we -- as a country -- will no longer sit silently by as systemic racism persists. 

And then -- most importantly -- Congress needs to act.  Specifically, I’ve proposed with Rev. Cornell W. Brooks, former President and CEO of the NAACP, that Congress establish an American Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission, with initial funding appropriated at $50 million. This commission would not be meant to delay the demands for change but rather to amplify, intensify and expedite the transformation of those demands into significant legal, policy and cultural change.

The Commission will be composed of  a diverse group of leaders who have strong moral authority. That can include leaders from different faith traditions, those with diverse lived experiences, including and especially people living in poverty, those who have experienced the harshest effects of our racist, anti-Black criminal justice system and young people who are at the forefront of calling for change. It will bring together participants from all four sectors of American society, public, private, non-profit and educational. The Commission would be tasked with bringing to light the vast array of America’s anti-Black racist structures and their negative impacts.

In addition, the Commission will hold public hearings across the country as well as in our nation’s capital.  It will take testimony and receive evidence from a wide set of Americans from all backgrounds – rural and urban, North and South, professional, working class and low income. It will also hear from academics and policy experts. Ultimately, it would be charged with delivering a set of sweeping recommendations for transformational change in our criminal justice system, in our education system, including how we pay for public education in America, in our health care and public health system, and in our economic system.

Beyond my proposal for a Truth, Justice, and Reconciliation Commission, I believe Congress must implement comprehensive criminal justice reform. That means ending mandatory minimums, outlawing private prisons, abolishing the death penalty, restoring Pell Grant access to prisoners, restoring voting rights to previously incarcerated individuals, eliminating qualified immunity for law enforcement, and prohibiting the transfer of military weapons from the federal government to state and local law enforcement. These progressive reforms will help overturn the deeply-rooted racism embedded within our criminal justice system, and will help ensure economic security for new generations of Black and Brown Americans for years to come.

I’ve made fighting for racial justice, diversity, equity and inclusion, a centerpiece of my professional career.  We started City Year with the goal of demonstrating how bringing together young people from all different backgrounds for an intensive year serving side by side in common purpose could turn on young people’s “justice nerves” and help complete the Civil Rights movement.

City Year was the very first youth service corps in America to bring together such a very diverse group of young people -- low income, middle income and affluent; former gang members and Ivy league graduates, city and suburb, African-American, Asian, Caucasian and Latino, people of different gender identities and sexual orientations, and all different faiths.  Because we served as the inspiration and model for AmeriCorps, AmeriCorps is also open to people from all different backgrounds and now more than 1.1 million have served contributing more than 1.7 billion hours of service to our communities and country -- fighting poverty, fixing schools, preserving our environment, supporting seniors and veterans and doing disaster relief work.

Question 2: There is widespread agreement that our current immigration system is in need of reform consistent with our nation’s economic and national security interests and its historic commitment to be a haven for the vulnerable and oppressed around the world. What do you foresee as the best pathway forward for immigration reform and how would you work across the aisle to achieve these policy goals?

I am the son of immigrants. My father was an immigrant from Iran, who left a country of dictatorship for a country of freedom, equality of opportunity and justice for all. My grandfather on my Mom’s side came from Italy, and my Great-Grandfather also came from Italy and worked in the coal mines of Western, PA—and was inspired by John L. Lewis to fight for the coal miners union. If elected, I would be the first Iranian-American ever elected to the United States Congress. All that is my way of saying I know how vital immigrants are to our economic goals, our political discussions, and our cultural fabric.

I strongly support comprehensive immigration reform. That includes a pathway to citizenship that is far more expeditious and efficient than the system that currently exists. However, I oppose harmful “reforms” such as cuts in family immigration, and strongly oppose efforts, before comprehensive immigration is enacted, to make the flawed E-Verify program mandatory or to force layoffs based on Social Security number mismatches that affect many U.S. citizens and authorized workers.

I also believe in a human-centered immigration and refugee policy. We cannot cage children in inhumane facilities, and we need to reform ICE before more lives are destroyed. America must remain the beacon of hope for people across the world. We need common-sense security measures, instead of blanket bans, to keep our country safe while offering the American Dream to those who need it most.

The United States is a nation of immigrants. I am a son of immigrants. People used to immigrate here through Ellis Island in the thousands. Immigration is our heritage, and it should be our future.

Question 3: To what extent should the safeguarding of human rights, including but not limited to preventing genocide and combating racism and religious persecution, inform our nation’s international relationships, trade agreements, and diplomatic conduct?

The United States has and always will be fundamentally human-rights oriented. I believe our nation’s human rights ideals and its strategic concerns are not mutually exclusive, rather just the opposite. As my father always reminded me growing up, it is the times that we stray from those ideals of democracy, human rights and justice that we run into wars, conflict, and global challenges. I am strongly dedicated to promoting bilateral and especially multilateral cooperation through our international relationships and trade agreements to increase the spread of human rights and democratic ideals. When we do it alone, we risk skewing the true meaning of democracy and rights in favor of personal or narrower agendas. If elected, I would work with congressional partners and the administration to restore multilateralism and address our security and peace challenges as a coalition.

Question 4: There is growing concern in the country about financial inequality and its consequences for those lower on the economic ladder.  If elected to the United States Congress, describe at least one initiative you will propose to address this concern?

I’ve spent my entire life trying to address the deeply rooted financial inequality that grips so much of this country through national service—it’s been over thirty years since I co-founded City Year with Michael Brown in 1988 in Boston with just 50 young people. Today, City Year enlists more than 3400 young people who serve 29 cities across America as well as three in the UK and one in South Africa. They serve more than 200,000 low income children every day. Since its founding, City Year has given 33,000 young people their first job. I want to emulate City Year’s success on a federal level with legislation that authorizes the expansion of AmeriCorps, the national service program City Year helped inspire and I helped save.

I support a goal of at least 1 million members in service annually. I also support changing the Eli Segal Education award to make it available for the American Dream, and increasing it to $15,000. That way, anyone who is willing to serve our communities and country for two years will be able to graduate college debt free. Especially in light of the COVID-19 crisis and the need for recovery and also to provide jobs for people, I believe that AmeriCorps and other service programs should be grown to one million people in the next two years. I will also fight for fully funding the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Law in 2021, which authorizes growth to 250,000 AmeriCorps members annually. I led the effort to get this law passed years ago, but fully funding the program—especially because of the current economic crisis—is a vital step towards addressing financial inequality.

I will also propose Restore the Dream Accounts to end student loan debt and give every single young American a jump start on the American Dream. I have proposed that the federal government invest $15,000 in every single child’s Restore the Dream Account when they are born, paid with funds from the Estate Tax. With standard moderate market returns in safe managed funds, that will grow to $50,000 by their 19th birthday. To unlock those funds, you just have to complete one year of national service by age 28. Families can also contribute to these accounts and any investments that a family makes will go to the child, whether or not they complete a year of service. Funds in a Dream Account can be used to pay for College, job training, for the downpayment on a first home, start up funds to be a small business or social entrepreneur, life-long learning, emergency needs and for retirement. This plan will incentivize Americans to serve their country and community in a meaningful way, while also giving every young person a jumpstart on the American Dream. I see this as a bookend to Social Security.

The expansion of voluntary national service and the implementation of Restore the Dream Accounts will jumpstart national programs on infrastructure, public health, economic development, climate action, and many other critical areas. Each American will enter adulthood with the opportunity to serve for one year and study debt free, as Dream Accounts yield far more than the average student loan debt. These accounts also give young people from low income backgrounds tangible assets to jumpstart their lives that they would not otherwise have, and will help reverse growing financial inequities in communities across the country.

 

Antisemitism

Question 5: Antisemitism and violence against Jews are on the rise around the world. According to the FBI’s most recent Hate Crimes Statistics report, in 2018 anti-Jewish hate crimes accounted for 57% of all religiously motivated hate crimes. Nearly one third of respondents in a recent AJC survey of American Jews reported having been afraid to wear something in public that identifies them as Jews. To address this problem, the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance drafted a “Working Definition” of antisemitism, which has been adopted in dozens of countries in Europe (including Germany, France, and the UK) and endorsed by UN Secretary General Gutierrez and the US Department of State. This definition provides a means for assessing when given actions may involve bias against Jews, thereby reducing confusion and providing a basis for constructive action. Will you go on record to endorse the IHRA Definition of Antisemitism?  

Absolutely. Antisemitism must be condemned in all its forms, and its concerning reemergence in recent years must be combatted at the local, state, and federal levels. We cannot tolerate discrimination of any kind, and we must take special care to fight the kind of demonization that has unjustly vilified Jewish communities around the world for centuries.

Question 6: In recent years, advocates for anti-Israel and, at times, anti-Jewish political agendas have demonstrated growing success in their effort to coopt the movement for racial justice.  For example, before and since the murder of George Floyd, some proponents of the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement have circulated a false and tendentious narrative that holds Israel responsible for law enforcement tactics that brutalize people of color. These claims undermine the fight against the current manifestations of white supremacy (e.g. voter suppression, de facto segregation, over-policing, over-imprisonment and other measures that promote inequality). They also demonstrate how readily false and malicious claims about Jews and Jewish interests can take root and spread. Should you be elected to the United States Congress, how do you propose to ensure that the quest for racial justice remains strong and that those who would undermine it through false and malicious claims are marginalized?

I draw my strength and inspiration from the singular example of Congressman John Lewis, who I was privileged to work with several times during the course of my tenure at City Year and after.  And as I mourn his passing, I am especially mindful that Congressman Lewis’s passionate advocacy for racial justice was complemented by his fierce determination to combat antisemitism, wherever it reared its head. From bravely speaking out on behalf of Soviet Jewry, to refusing to normalize the bigotry and antisemitism emanating from Louis Farrakhan, Congressman Lewis understood that it is impossible to build a Beloved Community without fighting fervently against antisemitism.

And so too here.  An intersectional coalition to fight for racial justice is doomed to fail if it is tainted by antisemitism, and -- like Congressman Lewis -- I will not hesitate to raise my voice and call out antisemitism.  It is particularly important that those of us who are committed to the pursuit of social justice, equity, and antiracism stand up against antisemitism wherever and whenever it rears its ugly head. We must be vigilant not only to fight bigotry when it comes from the other side of the aisle, but to also hold ourselves accountable. 

In addition to speaking out, we will also need to do the hard work of building trust between Americans and combating hatred through education.  We need to invest in our nation’s teachers, provide increased and more equitable funding for public schools, and develop curriculums to educate students about antisemitism (and other forms of bigotry) through expanding programs such as Facing History and Ourselves.  Building trust through compassion and education is our most effective weapon at our disposal against misinformation and hate. In addition, I would expect that the American Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission I’ve proposed would have leaders from all faiths on it and fighting Anti-Semitism would be included in its mandate.

 

Israel

Question 7: We are in the midst of another fraught moment in the ongoing struggle for peace between Israel and its Palestinian neighbors. Hamas continues to advocate for Israel’s destruction. The Palestinian Authority has refused negotiations for more than 5 years. And, in the absence of a credible peace process, the new Israeli coalition government has stated its desire to apply Israeli law to West Bank settlements (albeit, it appears now, within a much smaller territory than was proposed before the formation of the current government).  For decades, a two-state solution has been a pillar of American foreign policy. Do you support a two-state solution to this conflict that will provide for a Palestinian and an Israeli state? What do you believe the role of the United States should be in resolving this conflict? As a member of Congress, what policies would you advocate for to advance your view of our nation’s role?

My views are aligned with that of Vice President Biden. There is no substitute for a two-state solution, which would result in a Jewish and democratic Israel alongside a free and independent Palestine. And despite recent setbacks, I continue to support and have faith in this two-state solution. It is the only way to address the parties’ legitimate needs: from security and self-determination to health and economic flourishing.  And ultimately, this simply won’t happen unless the parties come to the table and negotiate the parameters for a solution themselves.

Unfortunately, the Trump Administration’s so-called “peace proposal” was issued without any consultation with the Palestinians or any concern for their legitimate needs.  Consequently, it was dead on arrival. Likewise, the Trump Administration’s budget cuts to our diplomatic capabilities hampers our ability to lead in a meaningful way and help create the conditions that will allow a two-state solution to emerge. 

Instead, our experience has taught us that the best way to create the conditions in which negotiations are possible and for a two-state solution to emerge is to be a reliable friend to both Israelis and Palestinians.  So, for example, I don’t think we should be leveraging or conditioning aid to our allies. The Trump Administration has dramatically weakened our credibility in its willingness to tear up international agreements and hold up foreign assistance. We need our allies to be able to trust the United States, and know that even if we’re divided on important issues, we will still stand together. 

Likewise, we can also help create the conditions that will allow for the emergence of a two-state solution by proactively investing in the folks on the ground who are working towards a peace and by resuming assistance to the Palestinian people.  I will also work to restore and expand the funding for the State Department and USAID.  

I’m honored that I’ve been endorsed by many preeminent leaders in the area of National Security and Foreign Policy, each of whom has stood strongly in support of Israel’s security while also advocating for a two-state solution. They include: Former National Security Advisory and UN Ambassador Susan Rice, Four Star General Stan McChrystal, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, Former Undersecretary of Defense, Michele Flournoy, Senator Gary Hart, and Ambassador Daniel Benjamin. If elected, I will draw on them and others I know to strongly advocate for Israel’s security while also promoting a two state solution.

Question 8: Israel is home to nearly half of the world’s Jewish population. Israel is a democratic country and its citizens are accustomed to robust debate, at home and abroad, concerning their nation’s policies and actions. Regrettably, in the United States and elsewhere, there is mounting support for movements, such as the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) campaign, that purport to promote Palestinian rights but do so by denying Israel’s legitimacy, refusing dialogue, and advocating for Israel’s destruction. This malicious portrayal of Israel and the reality of its conflict with the Palestinians has prompted notable acts of antisemitism; especially on college campuses. It has also polarized public discourse and dimmed prospects for a negotiated solution to the conflict. If elected to Congress, what, if anything, would you say to those who deny Israel’s legitimacy and advocate for an end of the world’s only Jewish state?

Like the overwhelming majority of the Democratic caucus, I believe that the campaign to boycott, divest, and sanction Israel is counterproductive, discriminatory, and wrong.  Efforts to isolate Israel do nothing to advance the cause of peace, and – indeed, make it easier for opponents of a two-state solution to argue that Israelis cannot count on the international community to protect its interests.

Furthermore, BDS’s defenders often cross the line from legitimate foreign policy criticism, to outright bigotry.  College campuses, in particular, are becoming places where Jewish students feel targeted and unwelcome.  There can be no justification for professors withholding letters of recommendation from a student simply because she wishes to study abroad in Israel.  There can be no justification for ejecting passengers from a taxi simply because they are speaking Hebrew.  At a time when anti-Semitism is on the rise, we must clearly demonstrate that there is no room for such hatred.

 

International Relations and the U.S. Role on the Global Stage 

Question 9: Should a new administration come to Washington, a discussion may result concerning a return to the JCPOA.  Given new evidence of Iran’s secret undeclared nuclear facilities and Iran’s: (1) refusal to allow inspection of these facilities, (2) ongoing efforts to destabilize countries across the region,(3) continuing to financing and arming of  Hezbollah and other radical actors dedicated to Israel’s destruction and (4) repeated bellicose attacks on Western values and interests, are there conditions you would want to attach, beyond those stipulated in the JCPOA, to any proposal to return to the JCPOA?

As the son of an immigrant from Iran who left a country of dictatorship for a country of freedom, I take very seriously Iran’s human rights abuses at home, its egregious record of state-sponsored terrorism, and the threat it poses to the Middle East – Israel, in particular.  Iran undermines regional security not only by pursuing nuclear weapons proliferation, but by assisting the Assad regime in a genocidal war against his own subjects, and by funding and supporting organizations like Hezbollah.   All promise for peace could be lost if Iran acquires nuclear weapons, threatening Israel’s existence, destabilizing the entire region, and posing a massive security challenge to the West. 

Unfortunately, the Trump Administration is clearly not up to the task of confronting Iran strategically and with a united front from our strongest allies.  In spite of its limitations, the Iran deal united the P5+1 countries to curtail the regime’s uranium enrichment and institute an inspections regime.  It also sent a message to the 70 percent of Iranians who are under 30 and those that oppose the regime, that the United States and our Allies, while insisting that Iran not be allowed to have nuclear weapons, were open to using strong diplomacy backed up by a strong military to resolve our disputes. By unilaterally and impulsively withdrawing from this agreement—without any coordination or consultation with our allies—the Trump Administration damaged the credibility of the United States, further alienated our strongest allies, isolated America and increased the likelihood of Iran attaining nuclear capabilities.  And President Trump’s failed negotiations with the totalitarian regime that controls North Korea leaves no confidence that he is capable of negotiating a better alternative to the JCPOA.

Ultimately, there is no substitute for rigorous diplomacy.  And it is best for the U.S. to pursue a coordinated strategy with our lead allies to try and build off of the JCPOA to achieve a diplomatic solution which denies the Iranian regime nuclear weapons. If Vice President Biden takes office, I woul support efforts to reenter the JCPOA understanding that conditions have changed since Trump has been in office.  I would work with President Biden and leaders in his administration, many who I know and are likely to be in senior positions on what a new JCPOA should look like. In addition to constraining Iran’s nuclear program, we must look to limit its sponsorship of terrorism, and limit its campaign to destabilize the Middle East. We must also encourage the people in Iran who want freedom and democracy. Seventy percent of the Iranian people are under the age of thirty, and were not even born when the 1979 revolution happened. Many Iranians love Americans and, as protests going back to the Green Revolution of 2009 and more recent anti-regime protests clearly showed, want freedom and democracy. The right comprehensive strategy, using all of the tools we have available to us, can yield productive results for the U.S., the region, and the world. 

Question 10: A robust Transatlantic relationship between the United States and European democracies (AJC has 5 European offices and three regional representatives) has been a pillar of US foreign policy since the end of World War II. In recent years, this relationship has suffered strains. Some contend that this historic alliance is undergoing a fundamental change. Is it important that we sustain the United States historic post-World War II partnership with Europe or is it time to rethink this relationship? If elected, what policies will you pursue to advance your views?

I have travelled to more than 40 countries in Asia, Africa, The Middle East, Europe and North and South America and seen firsthand how important American leadership and building strong partnerships with our Allies is to our security and the ability of the world to deal with a number of issues that require global cooperation including: Climate Change, Pandemics, Terrorism, Extreme Poverty, Nuclear Proliferation and the rise of Authoritarian regimes.  The last four years have been disastrous to America’s global standing and have seriously harmed our credibility on the international stage. The Trump Administration’s so-called "America First" foreign policy (a phrase which originated with Nazi sympathizers in the 1930s that President Trump adopted in spite of objections from the Jewish community) is an incoherent mess, which fluctuates between bellicose adventurism and selfish isolationism. If elected, I will advocate for a foreign policy that would see the United States honor its commitments to its allies and have a thoughtful, strategic, foreign and national security policy that protects the vital interests of the United States and our close allies.

We cannot afford to compromise our long-standing relationships with Europe by withdrawing from global partnerships like the Paris Climate Agreement or World Health Organization. Given that we live in an increasingly interconnected and globalized society (as underscored by the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic), the United States should be forming new cooperative partnerships in Europe and elsewhere that can endure for generations to come. This means refunding the State Department, expanding USAID, rejoining the WHO and Paris Climate Agreement, and creating my proposed Global Pandemic Council to counter future challenges.

Additionally, I will affirm our Article 5 Commitment to our European allies and partners and take steps to strengthen the Nato Alliance. The United States’ commitment to NATO is single handedly one of the most critical and threatened pillars of American foreign policy today. The Alliance was founded as a bastion of defense, and Russia—and increasingly, China—have capitalized on its fractious relationship to annex territory, engage in cyber attacks, and bolster their proxies internationally. If elected, I will actively support the U.S strengthening its relationship with its European partners and Canada, in order to restore the deterrent on dangerous Russian and Chinese activities.

 

General

Question 11:     What experiences qualify you to represent the citizens living in your district?

I’ve been a non-profit entrepreneur, organization builder, movement leader, bridge builder and democracy activist my entire career. I’ve been on the outside, building coalitions to get big things done in our nation including creating City Year, the model for AmeriCorps and worked with closely with Senator Kennedy, President Clinton, Senator McCain and President Obama among others to build the coalitions to help pass three major pieces of Federal legislation. Now I want to get on the inside, break open the doors of Congress and bring this new movement energy in, to break the logjam in DC.

I’m a service person at my core. Serving in Congress would be an extraordinary opportunity to make a tangible and daily difference in people’s lives. People go to their Congressperson for help with their Medicaid and Medicare benefits, veterans’ benefits, student loans and education grants, appointments to the service Academies, help with immigration, to join workers on strike on the picket lines and more.  I’m excited to be able to make a difference in people’s lives from the Fourth District every single day.

As a citizen leader, I’ve built the coalitions and resultant outside pressure and support to help pass three major pieces of federal legislation and I successfully led the effort to Save AmeriCorps in 2003 when Tom Delay tried to kill it. This was at a time when Republicans led the House, Senate and White House. We won because I helped organize a coalition and grassroots movement that led to bipartisan support. That important work saved the Corporation for National and Community Service, a billion-dollar agency that went from an 80% funding cut to a 50% budget increase. And I led the coalition that defeated Mitch McConnell in the first hundred days of the Obama administration when he opposed the Serve America Act -- we got all of the Democratic Senators to vote for it and a majority of the Republican Senators, in spite of McConnell’s opposition, to vote for it as well. I know how to put people before politics, leverage movement energy and coalitions to get big things done. As a result, more than 1.1 million people have served through AmeriCorps. I’ve worked with every Governor of Massachusetts since Governor Mike Dukakis and every President since George H. W. Bush, and worked especially closely with President Clinton’s administration and President Obama’s.  I’ve been appointed to two bipartisan federal commissions on service. Thanks to all this experience, I know how to get Washington to work and have demonstrated the ability to make a significant impact as an everyday citizen, even in the face of government reluctance and partisan opposition. I want to utilize that experience to secure big results on behalf of the people of the 4th district and for progressive causes I’ve been fighting for my whole life.

Question 12: What would be your top three priorities if elected?

The unprecedented coronavirus public health and economic crisis has exposed and exacerbated the deep inequities in our society. Similar to the Great Depression, this new, coronavirus crisis requires an unprecedented response. We need a New Deal for our time, and thanks to the tremendous awakening that is happening in our country, we have the potential for this new, New Deal moment to enact transformational change that will provide affordable health care to all, put people back to work, tackle climate change and gun safety, cut childhood poverty in half, and tackle the COVID pandemic. 

In this context of opportunity for transformational change in the face of crisis, the three issues which I believe are the most important to our campaign are 1) Restoring the American Dream, 2) Democracy Reform, and 3) Taking on the NRA and fighting the scourge of gun violence across our society. These issues matter deeply to voters in the Fourth District and to the country as a whole.

Systemic injustice has prevented many from accessing the American Dream at all, and over the last few decades, it has become increasingly inaccessible with growing income inequality and the high cost of childcare, education, housing and health care. Student debt, no wage growth, and many other factors have all contributed to this situation, but my career in service has given me the experience necessary to address these factors. We need an unprecedented investment in today and tomorrow’s youth by investing in children at birth through “Restore the Dream Accounts,” much like 529 accounts, with a $15,000 initial investment from the federal government paid for by the estate tax. The money accrues and by the time that child is 19 it is worth $50,000. The child gets that funding upon doing one year of community service through AmeriCorps, the Peace Corps, a new Climate Action Corps etc. It can be used for the American Dream, to buy a home, pay for school, learn a trade, do life-long learning, save for retirement and have a nest egg that can be tapped for emergencies, such as is happening right now with COVID-19. Instead of saddling students in debt, we need to be investing in them, and we can do that by having youth serve a year in volunteer service to access these assets.

America is also in urgent need of structural democratic reform.  The United States government was meant to be of the people, by the people, and for the people.  But today it too often resembles one favoring elites or corporations. That is why I believe we need to get money out of politics once and for all.   I specifically will work to undo the effects of Citizens United by amending the Constitution, insisting on total transparency in political donations (including from 501(c)(4) and 527 organizations), and fighting for publicly financed elections. I am a strong supporter of HR 1 and have put forward a comprehensive plan to Fix our Democracy that has been endorsed by leading reform champion Professor Larry Lessig. My proposal includes a 21st century voting rights act to protect and strengthen  the right to vote by easing and opening the voting process, eliminating the electoral college, putting term limits on the Supreme Court, reforming lobbying and gerrymandering, and utilizing voluntary national service to help youth use their energy to tackle these pressing societal challenges and others.

Finally, we need to stand up to the NRA once and for all, at the legislative level. I’ve stood alongside amazing March For Our Lives advocates and helped build the sibling march network to unify all of the smaller local marches on this issue and many others. Those marches and that activism can translate into federal action. That is why I’m committed to taking those marches to Congress and standing alongside my colleagues to get comprehensive, substantive gun reform in this country, and start to address the consequences of decades of violence in our communities.

 


American Jewish Committee (AJC) is the leading organization dedicated to Jewish advocacy at home and around the world. Through a global network comprised of 24 domestic regional offices; 12 overseas posts in Asia, Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East; and 37 partnerships with international Jewish communities, AJC engages with political, religious and civic leaders to combat antisemitism and bigotry, support Israel’s quest for peace and security, and advance democratic values at home and abroad.

AJC New England recently invited all 11 Republican and Democratic declared candidates for the Congressional seat from the 4th District of Massachusetts to participate in a survey on some matters of import to our community.

AJC is a 501(c)(3) non-partisan organization and does not endorse or support any candidate for elected office, whether or not they responded to the survey. We offer this survey to educate the electorate about the views of the candidates for this office.

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