The Democratic Party fights for fairness – political fairness and economic fairness. That’s being what being a Democrat is all about.
Political fairness includes civil rights, voting rights, and fair elections. Economic fairness includes living wage jobs, affordable healthcare, good public schools, and safe and healthy environments.
In contrast, the Republican Party has eroded political fairness by gutting the Voting Rights Act, by refusing to restore the voting rights of thousands of ex-felons, and by allowing unlimited campaign contributions from corporations and anonymous sources.
What is the Republican Party’s record on economic fairness? Republican Party policies keep moving our country’s wealth into the hands of a few. While eliminating middle-class jobs, Republican politicians give tax breaks to the rich and government grants to big corporations. They expect employees to work more and more for less and less, and have no objection to administrators and executives being paid exorbitant salaries. They cut funding for schools, fire and police protection, and many public services. They expect low-income families to bear the greatest tax burden. They refuse to make health care affordable for all citizens.
Florida’s minimum wage of $8.10 per hour is far below $26.99, which is the living wage required in Lake County for one adult with two children. On the other hand, America’s top executives earn $373 for every $1 earned by the average worker. The top 20% of US households own more than 84% of the wealth in this country. Sadly, the Republican Party refuses to raise the minimum wage by even one dime.
Poverty is hardest on children. In Lake County, 26% of our children live in poverty and 63% of our school children qualify for free lunches. Lake County food banks are overwhelmed and food prices are skyrocketing. Yet, our Republican politicians are cutting food stamp benefits.
Florida’s poorest non-elderly families pay almost 13% of their income in taxes, while very rich families pay less than 2%. Yet, the Republican Party refuses to even consider raising taxes on the super-rich.
Almost 48,000 Lake County residents have no health insurance. According to Waterman Hospital, 22% of their emergency room patients have no insurance. Sadly, Republicans in Tallahassee keep rejecting billions of federal dollars to expand Medicaid for the working poor.
Most of the elected officials serving Lake County are Republican, including our governor and all of his cabinet, all of our state senators and state representatives, and all of our county commissioners. In addition, all of our county constitutional officers, except our supervisor of elections, are Republican. Yet, only 44 % of Lake County voters are Republican.
As long as the rest of us are not at the table when decisions are made, how can we make Lake County a better place for everyone? How can we make our government see that the lives of ordinary people are more important than huge corporate profits and more tax cuts for the rich? A democracy works best when everyone has a chance to be heard and provide input. Only then, can citizens have faith that their government is fair and working for them.
Contributor: Jane Hepting