Like Lincoln, Koch Network stands with anybody that stands right

At a moment of great turmoil in American history, Abraham Lincoln offered sound advice.It was in a speech in P...

Posted: Apr 25, 2018 9:38 AM
Updated: Apr 25, 2018 9:38 AM

At a moment of great turmoil in American history, Abraham Lincoln offered sound advice.

It was in a speech in Peoria, Illinois, several years before his presidency and the Civil War; a time of deep political division, with new and uncertain coalitions forming.

"Stand with anybody that stands right," Lincoln advised. "Stand with him while he is right and part with him when he goes wrong."

It's still good advice today, but for many engaged in the rough and tumble of public policy, it's advice that falls on deaf ears.

The American people are exhausted from watching Washington grind to a halt because lawmakers from both parties are more focused on their own re-elections or scoring political points than on enacting policies that help people improve their lives. It's why party identification is so low: in 2017, 29% of Americans identified as Democrats and just 27% as Republicans.

If lawmakers merely run out the clock on another legislative session rather than doing the jobs they were elected to do, then, come November, many Americans will justifiably ask whether their senators and representatives deserve another term. It's a question that organizations within the Seminar Network are asking right now.

We are prepared to support candidates who champion public policies that benefit the American people. But we're finding that these champions are few and far between and our support will not be forthcoming for those who hang back or obstruct good policy.

Congress, whether under Democratic or Republican control, no longer appears capable of reining in out-of-control spending, ending corporate welfare, or reforming our health care system to provide access to quality and affordable care for everyone.

The recent bipartisan budget deal that raised spending caps by $300 billion over just two years and opened the door to last month's bloated $1.3 trillion spending bill is a case in point. In a stunning show of hypocrisy, just a few weeks after voting for this budget-buster, some members of the House voted for a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution, which stood no chance of being approved by their chamber.

The time for lawmakers to demonstrate their commitment to fiscal prudence is when they are casting votes to spend the American peoples' money. Yet, courage in Congress is so lacking that even on issues with strong majority support, lawmakers remain stuck.

The same holds true when it comes to finding a solution for the Dreamers, immigrants who were brought to the United States as children and now face an uncertain future. More than 90% of Americans say it's important to find a resolution to the issue. And, in practice, striking a deal to provide certainty for Dreamers and enhance border security should be easy. But lawmakers from both parties seem to be more interested in treating Dreamers as a political bargaining chip than human beings with the potential to contribute to our country.

In the process, they not only keep millions of people trapped in legal purgatory, but also turn their backs on one of our country's greatest traditions: welcoming people who wish to better themselves and our country, no matter their background.

Solutions to the United States' failing approach to criminal justice, too, need to be found. Our prisons are bursting at the seams while we spend over $80 billion a year to keep more than 2 million people locked up -- a staggering waste of human potential. For many, their most serious offense is a low-level, nonviolent drug charge. They are often victims of mandatory minimum sentencing requirements that have been called harsh and unjust by some of the very judges who are forced to impose them.

Once released, the formerly incarcerated face poor job prospects and more than three out of four of them end up back in prison within five years. This is destroying vulnerable communities nationwide. People on both sides of the political divide have come together in states across the country to address this problem. Congress, meanwhile, has done little for its part.

Even when Congress agrees that action is required, members tend to focus on petty differences rather than getting the job done. The House and Senate have each passed their own version of legislation that would allow the terminally ill the "right to try" potentially lifesaving experimental treatment and medication. The concept enjoys broad bipartisan support; 39 states have right-to-try laws. But the two chambers can't seem to find common ground and get a bill to the President. Meanwhile, lives are literally at stake.

In the past, the Seminar Network's organizations often limited their engagement to working within the confines of the agenda set by those running Congress. We were even willing to pull punches in fights that seemed unwinnable because they centered on issues congressional leaders did not consider immediate priorities -- like safeguarding our financial future.

Those days are over. The American people are demanding leadership. They have rejected the petty divisiveness that prevents Washington from getting important work done.

In the coming weeks, we will be stepping up our efforts to push congressional action on a whole host of initiatives, including Dreamers, criminal justice reform, right-to-try, and responsible government spending, to start. We will also fight to defend trade, arguably the most effective anti-poverty program in human history. As we engage on each of these issues, we will be looking for allies wherever we can find them -- on the left, the right, or in the middle. We welcome all comers. And we will hold those accountable who stand in the way of progress, regardless of their party.

Like Lincoln, we will stand with anybody who shares this vision and wants to do right - even if it's just on a single issue. Our fervent hope is that even isolated agreements won't just advance good policy but will also help tear down the walls of mistrust and bitterness that have degraded our politics and turned Americans against one another.

Our politics is broken; we stand ready to do our part to fix it.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 128152

Reported Deaths: 2354
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin33024980
Ramsey13609355
Dakota9467136
Anoka8324150
Stearns554641
Washington539968
Scott326534
Olmsted315930
St. Louis279765
Wright233214
Nobles219516
Clay215343
Blue Earth20037
Carver17247
Kandiyohi16395
Sherburne160621
Rice15929
Mower149915
Winona122518
Crow Wing94721
Lyon9416
Chisago9202
Waseca9199
Benton8827
Beltrami8397
Otter Tail7896
Todd7525
Steele7342
Nicollet70017
Itasca69617
Morrison6578
Freeborn6494
Douglas6323
Martin60216
Le Sueur5985
McLeod5764
Watonwan5724
Polk5574
Goodhue54211
Becker5193
Pine5190
Isanti5115
Chippewa4153
Carlton4031
Dodge3790
Mille Lacs37613
Hubbard3462
Cass3445
Wabasha3430
Pipestone33616
Meeker3183
Brown3113
Rock3113
Yellow Medicine2715
Cottonwood2650
Unassigned26553
Murray2643
Redwood26011
Fillmore2450
Sibley2423
Renville23711
Faribault2210
Roseau2160
Wadena2082
Jackson2041
Kanabec19410
Swift1931
Houston1861
Stevens1741
Lincoln1720
Pennington1711
Koochiching1644
Aitkin1592
Pope1520
Big Stone1310
Lac qui Parle1303
Wilkin1274
Lake1110
Norman1050
Mahnomen1041
Marshall971
Grant924
Clearwater880
Red Lake662
Traverse540
Lake of the Woods431
Kittson370
Cook110

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 111117

Reported Deaths: 1587
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk18419283
Woodbury697994
Johnson571730
Black Hawk535098
Linn5245129
Dubuque489654
Scott421037
Story391018
Dallas336944
Pottawattamie309144
Sioux234314
Buena Vista222512
Marshall195936
Webster178914
Plymouth159426
Wapello149462
Clinton140926
Muscatine139358
Crawford133712
Des Moines13059
Cerro Gordo130423
Warren11856
Carroll107212
Jasper105534
Henry10075
Marion95710
Tama91837
Lee90710
Delaware72912
Dickinson7117
Wright7071
Boone6969
Mahaska65924
Bremer6389
Washington62711
Harrison6238
Jackson5583
Benton5381
Lyon5287
Louisa50715
Clay5044
Hamilton4613
Winnebago45818
Winneshiek4559
Hardin4495
Kossuth4460
Poweshiek44111
Floyd42411
Jones4223
Cedar4205
Buchanan4194
Emmet41517
Iowa3948
Cherokee3832
Franklin37818
Sac3774
Guthrie37615
Clayton3753
Page3740
Shelby3601
Mills3551
Butler3542
Fayette3543
Cass3512
Madison3512
Allamakee3438
Chickasaw3381
Clarke3283
Humboldt3083
Hancock2984
Palo Alto2982
Grundy2895
Calhoun2854
Howard2619
Osceola2610
Monroe25111
Mitchell2380
Monona2361
Taylor2302
Union2194
Appanoose2173
Pocahontas2172
Jefferson2121
Lucas1976
Fremont1881
Ida1842
Greene1820
Van Buren1662
Davis1634
Montgomery1616
Adair1481
Keokuk1481
Decatur1430
Audubon1381
Worth1340
Wayne1133
Ringgold832
Adams700
Unassigned140
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