On January 6, 2018, we gathered in Newtown, PA to formally announce the candidacy of Steve Bacher for Congress in PA-01. The following is the text of the speech that Steve delivered that day.
My friends, thank you for being here today, as I announce my pro-democracy candidacy to be your next United States representative from the 8th Congressional District of Pennsylvania.
Let me start with some questions:
Do you want a Congressperson who speaks out against injustice?
Do you want a Congressperson who represents working people, not billionaire donors?
Do you want your Congressperson to be a Democrat?
(I thought so.)
I believe we are a nation of good, just people, who want to work together, support each other and preserve our democracy.
I believe most of us want more long-term thinking, long-term policies and long-term investments to strengthen our nation.
I have given my life to public service, and I believe this is the year the pro-democracy, Democratic activist resistance will take back the House and Senate and save our nation from those who don’t care about our shared values and will loot and destroy our nation until they are stopped.
I had originally planned to have this event at Lion’s Park in Bristol, but the weather didn’t cooperate. In Lion’s Park, there is a statue of Harriet Tubman, a hero of freedom, a hero of bravery, a hero of strength and persistence. I hoped she would provide a beacon of hope and inspiration for us all.
Because every day, there is a new outrage in our beloved nation. Every day, a new injustice. Every day, a challenge to our faith in our government. Every day, another sign that our great nation is drifting alarmingly toward authoritarianism. Our president denigrates the free press and judiciary, vilifies the FBI, dismisses diplomacy, undermines national security, threatens nuclear war, attacks legal immigrants, and calls white supremacists “some very fine people.” And the Republican Congress is silent.
We need strength, we need courage. We need persistence. Lord, give us persistence.
We need to speak up in the face of injustice. We need to speak out on behalf of our neighbors. We need to fight the good fight, the fight to preserve our democracy, with actions, words and nonviolent protest.
Our nation faces a choice: Are we a nation of compassion? Are we a nation of love? Do we love our neighbors as ourselves? Are we our sisters’ and brothers’ keepers? Do we feed the hungry, clothe the poor and care for the sick among us?
Or are we a nation of selfishness, a nation of greed? Are we a nation of people who are out to get what we can for ourselves, and if it hurts someone else in the process, that’s their problem, not ours?
This is the choice we face.
I believe, rather I know, that we are a nation of good people. A nation of generous people. A caring people. We need to summon our strength, unify our community and reclaim our democracy.
Our politicians are leading us toward becoming a nation that focuses on short term gains with no vision of the long-term. We underfund pre-school and pre-K, even though we know that children who attend quality preschools are more likely to get good grades, graduate from high school and grow up to become productive citizens. Meanwhile, the children who don’t attend quality preschools drop out more often, and are more likely to suffer the plight of dead-end lives, landing in prisons, hospitals and half-way houses, or if lucky, working jobs that pay poorly and have limited or no benefits. Yet again and again, we fail to invest in our children, and again and again, we choose to pay the high cost of mass incarceration.
The Republican Congress continues to subsidize fossil fuels, even though we know that fossil fuel emissions are destroying our planet. We continue to use eminent domain to force homeowners to sell their land for pipelines that are obsolete before they’ve been built. We allow the fossil fuel industry to inject millions of gallons of poisoned water into our aquifers, the very aquifers that supply our drinking water, and why? To promote short term profits that fail to take into account the cost to taxpayers of the inevitable clean-ups and loss of land value when the water is no longer drinkable.
My grandparents and great-grandparents were immigrants to the United States. Generation after generation, immigrants bring new ideas, entrepreneurship and creativity to our wonderful country. Why are some people now vilifying immigrants? Immigrants do not cause wages to stagnate. Corporate greed causes wages to stagnate. Wages are stagnant because of a decades-long effort to weaken unions and keep wages low.
Why are some people looking for scapegoats for our problems? Every religion preaches peace, including Islam. Jews, Catholics and Gypsies didn’t cause problems in Hitler’s Germany, and Immigrants, Muslims and African-Americans aren’t the cause of problems in Trump’s America.
2018 is the year that the Democratic activist resistance will take back Congress for ALL of the American people. 2018 is the year that we will take back the House and Senate from the Republicans, who cater only to the richest of the rich, and remain silent in the face of bigotry. 2018 is the year we will roll back the Trump Administration’s anti-democratic agenda. 2018 is the year we will lay the foundation to take back the White House in 2020.
And in 2020, with a Democratic Congress and a Democratic President,
Should we create a national living wage?
Health care is a right, not a privilege or a product. Should we establish a Medicare-for-All health insurance system that covers everyone?
Climate change is already causing destruction around the world. Should we reverse global warming by creating millions of jobs in renewable energy?
Should we make public colleges and training for the trades tuition-free?
Should we promote a culture that honors everyone who works hard and plays by the rules, regardless of their gender, gender identity, the color of their skin, ethnicity, religion or economic class?
Should we make our streets, parks, schools, workplaces and entertainment venues safe for everyone by passing common sense gun safety legislation?
Misguided legislation has turned our public schools into test-taking factories and sucked the love of learning out of our children and our teachers. Should we repeal it?
Should we pass a Constitutional Amendment to get big money out of politics, and at the same time renew our commitment to voting rights?
Should we pass Constitutional Amendments guaranteeing equal rights for women and everyone regardless of sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity?
Who am I to ask for your support? Let me start with my grandparents and great-grandparents, who as I said, were European immigrants. Here they became farmers and house painters and secretaries. They ran a junk yard and drove taxis. My grandpa Morris came over on a boat from Poland when he was one year old. His father died when he was a child, and he spent most of his childhood in an orphanage, because my great-grandmother couldn’t afford food and clothing for grandpa and his brother. There was no social safety net 100 years ago. No food stamps. No social security. No Medicaid. Grandpa Morris remained in the orphanage until he was a teenager. He grew up and became an accountant, and an air raid warden during World War II.
My parents met at a free public college in the 1950’s. My mother became a social worker, helping families in Trenton and bringing children out of eastern European orphanages for adoption here. My father became an aerospace engineer for Lockheed Martin.
My career has been devoted to public service. I’ve been an Executive Director, Administrator and grant writer for several nonprofits, helping children and families with after-school programs, teen pregnancy prevention programs, services for homeless people, camps for children with limb loss and limb differences, and more. I served as an Intergovernmental Relations Officer at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, where I was a liaison to advocates of affordable housing, fair housing, housing for seniors and housing for people with disabilities. For eight of the last ten years, I served as Director of Digital Marketing for Bucks County Community College. With the Russians influencing our elections through social media, it seems that suddenly my intimate knowledge of buying and targeting Facebook ads has relevance to national security. Who’d a thunk it?
I have been a proud progressive Democrat for my whole life.
Are any of you proud progressive Democrats?
For the last ten years I have been knocking on doors for Democrats throughout this district, starting with Barack Obama and Patrick Murphy in 2008. I was elected Vice Chair of the Newtown Democrats in 2014, and served until we moved to Lower Makefield last summer.
Karen and I have been married for 21 years. We’ve chosen to raise our children here in the 8th District—our son, Julian, is 13, and our daughter, Nana, is 9. I have devoted a great deal of time to advocating to keep our air, water and soil clean so that they will have a safe and healthy planet to live on when they grow up.
I co-founded the Bucks County chapter of 350.org, and co-founded the Bucks Environmental Action Coalition. Many of the people here are environmental advocates – like you, I have testified against new pipelines cutting across our land and against fracking in the Delaware River Basin. I support the bipartisan Citizen’s Climate Lobby proposal to put a price on carbon pollution and return the fees collected as a dividend to the American people. Putting a price on carbon will accelerate the just transition to one hundred percent renewable energy. We need to make this transition as urgently as the United States shifted to a war footing after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, if we are to stop climate change before it reaches a point of no return. We did it then, we can do it now.
Have any of you been to any protests in the last year or so?
Like so many of you, I have protested against the Elcon incinerator plan, the Keystone XL, Dakota Access and PennEast pipelines, against fracking, in support of universal health care, in support of DACA, and against the Muslim travel ban and the proliferation of hate speech in our area.
I also protested against cuts to Planned Parenthood.
Do you want full funding for Planned Parenthood?
I’m proud to call myself a feminist, as feminism is the radical notion that women are people. We as a society are wasting half our talent as women are kept from achieving their potential because of sexism in its many forms. I want my daughter and your daughters to have all the choices my son and your sons have.
Essential to women’s ability to control their lives is control of their reproductive health. Health insurance should cover birth control for all women. Abortion, is a right, not a crime, essential to women’s health and future.
My fellow Americans who don’t agree with me about abortion should not advocate to defund Planned Parenthood, because the best way to prevent abortion is to provide age appropriate science-based sex education, and free or cheap access to birth control. Planned Parenthood provides both.
My friends, I truly believe that we have more in common than that which separates us.
Do you want good-paying jobs? Then join me.
Do you want quality health care? Then join me.
Do you want clean and safe air, water and food. Then join me.
Do you want your children and grandchildren to have a good life? Then join me!
Last year, Brian Fitzpatrick returned to our community after a decade, only to run for Congress. I am the only candidate who has been here in the district and engaged on these issues for not only the last year but the last ten years.
We all know that Brian Fitzpatrick has betrayed all of us, whether we voted for him or not. Every day we must spread the word about his selling out working people with his votes. He voted to give us tiny little tax breaks and to give enormous windfalls to the wealthiest of the wealthy.
Republican leadership is already talking about paying for their gift to the wealthiest 1% by cutting our social safety net, including Medicaid and Social Security.
Every day we must spread the word about Brian Fitzpatrick’s hypocrisy on the environment, claiming to be interested in clean air and water while voting with Trump to allow drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and voting with Trump to continue subsidies for the fossil fuel industries that cause climate disruption.
We must spread the word about his hypocrisy claiming to be on the side of our police officers, while voting with Trump to allow people with mental illnesses to obtain guns.
We must spread the word about his hypocrisy, claiming to be for “good government” and “transparency” and voting against requiring Trump to reveal the conflicts of interest in his tax returns.
We must spread the word about his hypocrisy, touting his career in the FBI while remaining silent when Trump vilifies his former colleagues.
Every day we must spread the word about Brian Fitzpatrick’s hypocrisy and his betrayal of his constituents.
I am here today to ask for your support, not only to reclaim the 8th congressional district on behalf of the fine people of Bucks and Montgomery counties – but, even more importantly, to take back our country, to restore our democratic values, and to regain full citizenship and dignity for all of our families. The process of winning back our nation starts with us – you, me, and everyone in Bucks and Montgomery counties. When we defeat Brian Fitzpatrick in the fall of 2018, we will not only take back this district, but we will be part of a democratic wave that will sweep our nation and take back the Congress for the hard working people of our country.
Thank you for joining me here today at the beginning of our journey. 2018 will be the year the Democratic activist resistance takes back the Congress. We can do this together. We must do it for ourselves, and for our children and our grandchildren. Let’s work together to make it so.