By CARL GREEN
Belleville, IL – This election is about whether America will remain a functioning democracy, U.S. Senate candidate Tammy Duckworth said in a campaign swing through southern Illinois recently.
“Are we going to be a country where people can buy elections, or in the case of Donald Trump, incite foreign powers to conduct espionage against our own electoral system and invite them to come in and spy on us and mess with our democracy? That’s not who we are as a nation,” she told an enthusiastic crowd of supporters at the Belleville Democratic headquarters on Saturday, Oct. 22.
Duckworth is challenging Senator Mark Kirk, and the latest polls are looking good for her. She is an Army veteran of the Iraq War who now serves in the U.S. House.
“At the end of the day, it’s about the heart and the soul of this nation,” she said. “I didn’t wear the nation’s uniform and travel to foreign nations to defend America just to have this country turned over to somebody who’s got the biggest wallet.”
She noted her support for legislation to overturn the Supreme Court decision in Citizen’s United that opened the floodgate for unlimited corporate money in elections.
“My opponent voted for legislation to allow companies to hide even more money in these Super PACs ,” she said. “You already don’t know how much money they’re putting in, but they could hide even more. That’s the difference.”
Born to an American father and a Thai mother, Duckworth, 48, studied languages and then trained as a helicopter pilot in the U.S. Army Reserve. She flew in Iraq, losing both of her legs and damaging her right arm. She was director of the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs from 2006 to 2009, worked in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs from 2009 to 2011 and then was elected to Congress in 2013.
“The cornerstone of American democracy is that every two years, we have the peaceful transfer of power, based on the integrity of our election system,” he said. “Donald Trump has started to call the elections rigged. His supporters are talking about taking up arms after this election if they’re not successful.
“Integrity is what we vote for in November. There are two choices. One is hope, one is hate. And we are lucky enough, as the Democratic Party, to carry that message of hope, to carry that beacon of integrity. There is nobody with more integrity on this ballot than Tammy Duckworth.”
Duckworth called on Democrats to work hard in these last days before the Nov. 8 election.
Here are the remaining canvassing and phone bank opportunities in Illinois.
“We don’t get there without folks knocking on doors and talking to voters. That is the best way to get turnout, and this is truly a turnout election,” she said.
“We just have to remind people what this is about. This is about everything from the Supreme Court and attempts to roll back the Voting Rights Act, to women’s ability to make decisions about their own reproductive health, to looking at the nature of who we are as a nation and as a democracy.”
Recalling how her father lost his job when he in his 50s, she made an economic argument in favor of moving government money down the food chain, starting with giving a raise to retirees relying on Social Security.
“That money will be better off in the pockets of our senior citizens, because you know what they’ll do with it? They’ll spend it. They’ll spend it to buy food, they’ll spend it to buy medicine. It goes right back into the economy,” she said. “Same thing with raising the minimum wage. If you put that money in the pockets of working families, they’ll go down to the corner grocery store and it will go back into the economy.
“This isn’t about handouts,” she added. “This isn’t about favoring one class of people over another. This is just about making sure we invest in each other and in our country. For too long, the investment has been in businesses that send jobs overseas and in the very top one percent who don’t pay taxes.”