My name is Deb Morrow. My involvement in politics started in the 1960s, when I participated in Project Peace, a high school initiative for cooperation between African-Americans and whites. It was very controversial; this was a dangerous time, at the height of emotions about segregation, when people going against the grain here in the South faced social pressure at the very least, and in many cases violence. But I got involved because it was the right thing to do. It brought out a strong commitment to all civil rights that has never left me, throughout a lifetime of speaking up.
Now, I’m running for Congress because, despite being told by all sides that it can’t be done, I want to stop our political process from being sold to the highest bidder. In news reports about elections at every level, we hear which candidate has more money, and under-dogs are written off without regard for their ideas, as though we’ve accepted that money equals votes.
As long as our leaders are over a barrel to raise more and more to get elected, there’s no way regular people can afford to buy their attention and get decisions that are favorable to us. There’s no way regular people can RUN. We feel disgusted when a billionaire contributes tens or hundreds of millions at a time to sway a race. Can we help but be disillusioned? And what about the results – nobody is happy about how Congress is affecting our lives. Congress’ approval rating is at 10% - we know our best interests are not being represented.
My opponent gets 95% of his donations from big contributors, and this is nothing unusual or nefarious, but I’m going against the grain and have pledged to take contributions ONLY from small donors, running a campaign on a shoe-string budget.
Because of this and my advocacy against the Citizens United decision, I’ve been recognized by the group Move to Amend, which is spearheading a constitutional amendment to limit campaign donations and spending. It’s time that we, the people, take a stand to protect our democracy and say the country’s future is no longer for sale.
But we can’t wait for campaign finance reform, or policy-making reform, to be mandated by government. We can mandate it ourselves by electing candidates like myself who go against the grain and refuse to be ruled by fundraising and who aren’t beholden to special interests.
The second bill I introduce in Washington will be for reform of Congressional compensation and benefits, so that elected leaders have to make do with the same conditions as the people they represent. We can’t fix anything else as long as our representatives consider themselves superior and a breed apart.
I’m also glad to announce that I have received the endorsement of the South Carolina AFL-CIO, and that in addition to being the Democratic nominee I am also the Working Families Party candidate. The Working Families Party addresses only economic issues, no social issues, and I’m proud that they consider my policies would be good for South Carolina’s economic recovery and growth.
Collective bargaining and earning a living wage are fundamental for individuals and families to have a decent life, and for a prosperous economy overall. I will fight to protect and expand these rights if I’m elected to serve in Washington. Why would we NOT want better wages and benefits for American jobs? Cheap labor has been our claim to fame for years here in South Carolina, and it hasn’t improved our prosperity or employment numbers. It’s another example where the few people get very wealthy, contribute to campaigns, and get their way, while the rest of us struggle. I commend Move to Amend, the AFL-CIO and the Working Families Party for all they do on behalf of all of us, and I thank them for their vote of confidence.
By the way, I want to stress that these endorsements aren’t accompanied by any money from these organizations. They’re putting my name out there and spreading the word about me because they like my ideas, but I’m still my own person and will always make decisions based on the facts and my conscience.
Speaking of ideas, I’ve invited Congressman Gowdy to have at least one debate with me, so that the people of Greenville and Spartanburg counties can make a choice on many issues where I definitely go against the grain of what our representation has been here in the Upstate. We hear a very one-sided description of what’s good and bad, but listening to voters I’ve learned that many people don’t go along with this thinking and are looking for an alternative. Over the past year I’ve worked hard to educate myself on domestic and foreign issues, as well as paying attention to people who have felt un-represented. Let’s give people the chance to choose.
On health care, Representative Gowdy has voted to end Medicare and replace it with a voucher plan that forces our seniors to pay more out of pocket for medical expenses. This is personal to me, as someone who cared for my ailing parents over a period of 10 years, something many people can identify with: Sick, elderly parents at the same time you’re raising teenagers and paying for college.
Rep. Gowdy also voted 33 or so times to get rid of ObamaCare, which does many positive things - preventing insurance companies from denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions and dropping you when you get sick, allowing parents to keep their kids on their health policies, providing birth control for women with no co-pay starting this month; it’s gotten people rebates of their premiums because insurance companies were wasting too much money on non-healthcare expense, it’s insuring millions of Americans so that we don’t get stuck paying for emergency room visits … AND it will reduce our deficit. I hear from medical and hospital people and small business owners as well as individuals who are big fans of ObamaCare. The individual mandate – which was of course originally a Republican idea – gets called the end of freedom and democracy as we know it, and we’re hearing talk again about death panels.
The idea of death panels is very personal to me. Just 2 weeks ago I lost one of my oldest and dearest friends, who was my roommate at Carolina, to cancer. Four years ago her top-notch private insurance, which was from an oil company, refused to pay for tests and treatments her doctor recommended because the insurance company didn’t consider the expense was warranted. This is an example of a death panel. I want to prevent anyone from suffering the un-necessary loss of a loved one.
Paul Ryan is now the Vice Presidential nominee. My opponent speaks of him in the most glowing terms and says: "When Trey Gowdy says something is the right thing to do in my district, people yawn. When Paul Ryan says something is the right thing to do, it is like Reagan himself said it." Reagan is a hero to Republicans. But talking about the wealthy, Reagan said “We’re going to close the unproductive tax loopholes that have allowed some of the truly wealthy to avoid paying their fair share.” The Ryan/Romney budget, enthusiastically backed by Representative Gowdy, gives huge government handouts to the wealthy Americans and big corporations while hurting middle class and poor Americans. My Dad was one of those who idolized Ronald Reagan, and this is certainly not something Reagan would’ve supported.
Education is what drew me into politics, and some of you know about my work and commitment to the Corridor of Shame schools. Education’s another thing that’s fundamentally tied to our quality of life and economic success, a chance to break the cycle of dependency. Besides keeping public schools thriving, we must continue trying to make higher education accessible and affordable – not let student loan interest skyrocket and eliminate Pell grants.
We have to address immigration reform, not reverse the President’s moratorium on the threat of deportation of young people who entered the country as young children, and have been unable to work or go to college and become contributing members of society.
Women’s issues have been put in the spotlight especially in recent months, and I will NOT let women’s rights revert to the 1950’s, or let the privacy of any citizens, men OR women be intruded upon by the government making your medical decisions. Despite being active with Safe Homes here in the Upstate and giving a tearful example of a woman killed by her abusive husband, Representative Gowdy went against the bi-partisan Senate Violence Against Women’s Act, and authorization was ultimately stalled, because he said Democrats had politicized it by including too many people – gays, immigrants and American Indians - for protection. Let me make this clear: He fought this bi-partisan bill protecting women from violence, tearfully berating Democrats for making it too partisan for the House to approve it, and blamed the Democrats for failing to protect women.
I’m concerned about climate change. Our former Republican Representative Bob Inglis has been working hard in Washington on a plan to reduce carbon emissions. I want to work on a bipartisan solution to an issue that will affect my grandchildren and future generations. Representative Gowdy has avoided addressing the environment, though this past July was the hottest on record and has converted even the staunchest climate skeptics. We also need to look at energy independence in terms of alternate sources like wind and solar, instead of remaining stuck in technology of the 1950’s just because this is the most profitable thing for oil companies. As Senator Lindsey Graham has said, being oil-dependent - no matter where that oil comes from – is a threat to our national security.
I stand with the LGBT community and I’m against spending taxpayer dollars to defend the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act. LGBT Americans deserve to be able to get married and qualify for benefits just like anyone else, and be free from cruel bullying and discrimination.
Congressman Gowdy has distinguished himself by devoting his time and talents for the past two years to the Fast and Furious controversy. Under Darrel Issa on the House Judiciary committee, he helped lead the charge of contempt of Congress against Attorney General Eric Holder. I don’t blame him for doing this, he was told to do it, but the premise that there was even a scandal has been debunked by recent reports, and suddenly we’re not hearing any more about it. Anyone who thinks that all attacks on the Obama administration are time well spent is happy with Congressman Gowdy’s two years in Congress, but the rest of us wish that his skill and passion had gone to better use, addressing the country’s economic recovery and helping our recovery here in South Carolina. I promise if I’m elected I’ll reject ultra-partisanship.
There are other issues – but on behalf of my husband Robert who’s a decorated, disabled veteran, I always add that I will vote against un-necessary wars and for care and jobs for our veterans.
I look forward to debating Representative Gowdy in the coming weeks. My opponent owes it to the voters of the 4th Congressional district to take me up my offer and give people an opportunity to make an informed decision this fall. For my part, I’m ready to step forward and put new ideas on the table on how to create jobs, reduce our mountain of debt, increase fairness and help build a stronger middle class. In this case, I believe going against the grain is just what we need to put aside partisan games and develop a new atmosphere of cooperation, progress and success.