Dear Democratic Presidential Debate Participants,
We in Michigan are excited to host you next week for the Democratic Presidential debates in Detroit. I hope you will consider taking time to meet voters across our state and spend time in the communities that will likely decide who is the next President of the United States.
In 2016, the Democratic Party learned the hard way that Michigan can never be taken for granted and that our voters and our issues must be a priority. I believe that for a Democrat to win the White House, our nominee must win Michigan. That’s why I want to outline issues that any Presidential candidate must focus on to succeed here. These issues include: protecting our Great Lakes and ensuring we have clean drinking water; standing up for middle class families, workers and labor unions; addressing the rising cost of prescription drugs; enhancing workforce development so workers have the training for good-paying jobs; and fighting discrimination by standing up for all Michiganders.
Protecting Our Great Lakes and Ensuring Clean Drinking Water: Other than our people, we have no greater resource in Michigan than our water. We depend on it for commerce, tourism, recreation, and fresh drinking water. We need to address threats posed by invasive species like Asian Carp and aging pipelines like Enbridge Line 5 that runs in the Straits of Mackinac. Michigan is also grappling with serious drinking water issues, from the man-made Flint water crisis to the emerging PFAS contamination. While the national media and TV cameras have come and gone from Flint, far too many kids, parents and families are still dealing with the long-term consequences caused by failed leadership. Any candidate must be a partner in standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the people of Flint and other communities facing challenges. I hope your campaign will pledge to be an ally in protecting the Great Lakes and fighting for clean drinking water.
Standing Up for the Middle Class, Workers and Labor Unions: Michigan built the American middle class and founded organized labor unions, and it’s where this social contract must be renewed. Many of the benefits of modern work that we take for granted were won by Michigan workers who risked their jobs and in some cases their lives. Those gains have been threatened by unfair trade deals and an all-out assault to destroy organized labor. With stagnant wages and rising health care costs our workers must have the right to freely organize and collectively bargain. I hope your campaign will speak about the need to have trade policies that strengthen our middle class and ensure our workers have a level playing field.
Addressing the Rising Cost of Prescription Drugs: Americans everywhere are feeling the squeeze of rising health care costs, especially in the case of prescription drug prices. In Michigan, some residents even cross the border into Canada to seek out lower prices for their life-saving medications. Something is seriously wrong when a vial of insulin costs ten times more here than it does on the other side of the Detroit River. The ever-increasing prices are unsustainable for many Michigan families. I hope your campaigns will address the need to make these drugs accessible and affordable.
Strengthening Workforce Development and Skills Training for Workers to Get Good-Paying Jobs: As I travel across the state, businesses and manufacturers constantly talk about the need to find skilled workers who can fill open jobs. Like many industries investing in new technologies, manufacturing — including the auto industry — has entered into a period of rapid change. We must be innovative in helping our talented workers enhance their skills so they can get in-demand, good-paying jobs. I hope you will commit to expanding access to skills training and quality apprenticeships so all workers can succeed, including those who are best served by trades schools or technical education rather than four-year college degrees.
Fighting Discrimination and Standing Up for All Michiganders: I firmly believe Michigan’s rich diversity is one of its greatest strengths. Communities across our state have felt the sting of discrimination since the first days of the current administration. From the Census to voting rights, this administration has tried to tell communities of color that they don’t count. From the Muslim travel ban to restricting who can serve in the military, they implemented policies that discriminate. I urge any candidate for president to pledge to reverse these discriminatory policies, while listening to and standing up for all Michiganders.
I look forward to you traveling to Michigan. For the future of our country, it is critical that our nominee carries Michigan. I hope that you all will return frequently to meet with our residents and explain to our voters how your agenda will support Michiganders.
Senator Gary Peters (D-MI)