Nate Irvin, the Democratic party candidate in the 4th Congressional District who is challenging Vicky Hartzler (r), spoke yesterday for a gathering of Johnson County Democrats at their headquarters in Warrensburg.
Nate Irvin (D): …A lot of you I already know. I love coming back to, uh, Johnson County. I do want to say thanks for having me. I love being here because Bob Yates will yell at me when he thinks I’m doing something wrong. [laughter] And that always makes me very happy. Um, you know, in a lot of counties, they, they wonder, they’re like, oh, how do we approach him, how do we approach him? And in Johnson County everybody has a way of saying exactly what they mean which is something that I really like. And hopefully I will do the same always as your representative.
Um, well, you know, I’m twenty-five years old. Just so that’s clear, I know you’re all probably expecting somebody a little bit older maybe a little bit taller as well. [laughter] probably not quite so good looking, I have nice eyes if I may say so. [laughter]
But, I decided to run when my grandfather passed away. I was on my way back from a campaign in Connecticut and the day before I got back he passed away at ninety-two years old. And I thought of him, I thought of America, and everything that once was.
He was my childhood hero. And he always, always, always worked so hard. For his kids to go to college, for us to go to college, so that they could have a better life than he had, ’cause he was orphaned as a child. You see, his stepmother actually threw him out of the house when his dad got remarried because she didn’t want another woman’s kids in the house. He rode his bike a hundred miles, I’m not joking about this, a hundred miles with his little brother. And he never bragged, but he did say to me once, well I would have made it in half the time if the bike hadn’t broke down.
So, he, he was a great man, though. he worked as a welder and never complained about anything. He’d sometimes not like the way that the government was going, just like none of us do. If you stood in the DMV for two hours, found out you filled out the red form and you need the green one, sure, it’s easy to get a little bit mad. But, he never complained about the federal government. He never said we didn’t need the federal government. He never complained about taxes. You see, he realized, like I think most of the people in this room, and like most people in the Fourth District, most people in Missouri, and most of the people in the country do realize – sometimes our neighbors need a hand up. That doesn’t necessarily mean a hand out, but sometimes our friends need a little help. Now, I don’t know what happened to the country, but somehow we lost a little bit of that pragmatism, a little bit of that willingness, to help our neighbors, that we once had.
In two thousand ten it was cut down the line, cut, cut, cut down the line. Over a third of the district, over a third of the district is on reduced or free school lunches. In many counties it is far more. And in two thousand ten I had asked Representative Vicky Hartzler what she planned to do if she was talking about cutting all down the line on every bit of federal government, she was gonna cut on everything, what did she plan to do about the kids that needed our help? She told me, well, I think everybody should lift themselves up by their own bootstraps. Which is crazy ’cause they’re seven years old. But, hey, the way they’re going after unions lately I think probably they would like it we had kids back in the factory.
You see, in the nineteen fifties over a third of the workforce was part of the labor, they were part of a labor group. And now it’s roughly eight percent. And look what’s happened. Middle class wages have stagnated while the top one percent make more and more and more every year. So you have CEOs making three hundred times what your average worker makes. Now I might be crazy, but something about that figure seems a little bit unfair. Now, I’m not saying that anybody shouldn’t be able to make as much money as they would like to make because that is your right in a capitalist society. And I agree with it. But, when you’re making so much and your contributions to politicians are so high that means that you have far more influence than the common man has. And it is the biggest problem that we are facing immediately in this country.
In my mind, unless we get the money out of politics we will never get our Democracy back. Never. So, thank you. [applause] [voice: “You’re right.”] So, I will say this, I’m a pragmatist, I understand. There are constitutional limits on what we can do. But I think what we need to do, first and foremost, if we’re gonna solve our problems, we’ll have real campaign finance reform that makes sure that the people have a say. Because if you’re beholding to corporations for your campaign money you will serve corporations. But if it’s the people’s money you will serve the people. [applause]
So, once we do that, what are we gonna do, how are we gonna get the country working again? That is the question, ’cause it’s really easy to burn down someone else’s bridge, it’s a lot harder to build your own. That’s a fact. But here’s what I say we do. We help give power back to workers. We help give power back to workers. No more of this trying to strip down labor rights. But more importantly, whenever somebody’s gonna send jobs overseas because they want to exploit children in China we make ’em pay to do so. We raise taxes on ’em for doing it and we create special programs in the SBA [Small Business Administration] to give loans to workers so they can but the factory so we keep the jobs here and we keep making things here in America. [voice: “Yeah.”] [applause]
But there’s a problem. You see, a lot of the district, for instance, down in Clinton, right now there’s a shortage of certified welders. There’s a problem. The economy is changing and a lot of those jobs are already gone. We simply won’t get them back and if we do it’s gonna be automated. There will be far less jobs to go around. We need to invest heavily in advanced manufacturing but we have to retrain people while we’re doing it. There’s over six hundred thousand jobs in the country right now that could be had if people had the proper training. And we’re not gonna give them the proper training if we’re cutting funding for education down the board.
So, what I say we do is this, we create a special program to make it easier for people in rural areas to get to training centers. We’ll have tutors that are non-profit, maybe they’re from the private sector, maybe they’re from a church group, it doesn’t matter where you come from as long as you know how to do it. So, if you’re a welder you can tutor somebody in your small town and then they only have to drive to the city once or twice. Because whenever you’re unemployed, and you have to work so hard to get unemployment in this state, god knows that’s true, if you’re unemployed it’s hard to keep driving that, so if we cut down on that drive time, cut down those miles they have to drive we can get more people trained and we can get more people back to work and we can do it now. Maybe I’m crazy, but that just seems like a good idea.
Once we train ’em and once we invest heavily in advanced manufacturing we’re gonna be looking pretty good. But, Vicky Harztler also voted for the quote unquote path to prosperity, you know, the [Paul] Ryan budget. And in that they wanted to freeze Pell Grant funding [higher education] for ten years. Now, that would mean that it would be worth thirty percent less in ten years, because of inflation of roughly three percent, than it is today. well, it’s gonna be pretty hard for people to afford an education if they can’t get that money. So what I’m saying is we need to put more into education now but we also have to cut down on tuition. We have to cut down on costs. there’s a little bit of administrative bloat…
By two thousand ten, I’m sorry, by two thousand fifty there’s gonna be between nine and ten billion people on the planet. That’s, that’s incredible. That’s an incredible strain on our resources. And there could be water shortages, wars over it, particularly India and Pakistan, that’s frightening.
So we need to invest heavily in technology now, not only for things like desalinization, to make that more cheaper, more cost effective so we can make sure everybody can at least have a drink of water. But what we need to do is start addressing the problem of climate change. If they don’t want to believe in science that’s fine, but it’s real and it’s going to be a major, major, major problem. So we need to invest heavily in green technologies.
But we can’t do any of these things. And, I, I, I know, I know I said it, but we cannot do any of these things until we get all of that money out. Until we stop having Wall Street control our politicians, until Goldman Sachs gets its hands out of our politicians’ pockets and we take it back for the people. Because if we do not take it back for the people you might as well forget it, we’ll be a plutocracy and that will be the end. And it is ultimately leaning to economy tyranny and it’s been going that way since the eighties. That is a fact.
So, on this crazy journey that we’re about to take I would like to ask you all to help me out, I’d like ask you to join me in, because I cannot do it without your voice getting really loud and really rambunctious. I don’t want you to go talk logic and happiness and good, I want you to get mad. And I want you to talk to the tea party folks because they’re mad as hell, too. I want you to reach out to everyone….