Members of the Grand Traverse Democrats and concerned citizens gathered at the Michigan Grill, Wednesday, July 19, 2017, to hear Traverse City resident, Matt Morgan, share his background and vision for the First District as he makes his bid to challenge Republican Jack Bergman to represent the Michigan First District in the US House.
Matt explained that he retired at the rank of Lt. Colonel from the US Marine Corp after serving two tours in Iraq and several tours of duty at the Pentagon, the first under Donald Rumsfeld, which convinced him to become a Democrat, and another serving then Sec. of Defense Robert Gates. He learned to speak Arabic, went to grad school, and married his sweetheart, Angie, who was also a retired Marine. He grew up in a small town in Illinois whose residents suffered huge job losses in coal mining and the railroad industries that have never returned.
Matt is especially concerned about people like those in his home town whose job prospects have deteriorated, and the fact that middle Americans have essentially not received a pay raise since the Nixon era. He decided that we need Democrats to run of office and threw his hat in the ring. Republicans promise people jobs, but are promising jobs that fit the old economy of a bygone era. What we need is a focus on training our kids for the future in high tech and clean, sustainable energy. He supports developing a high-tech education emphasis in our secondary schools, and supports community colleges that will do the same.
His strategy for winning the hearts and minds of the people of the First District emphasizes not only winning PAC support from groups that support a progressive agenda like environmental groups, trade unions, and the healthcare industry, but also, he is on a mission to visit all thirty-one First District counties multiple times, shaking hands with as many people as possible and opening the Democratic tent to Independents and moderate Republicans, as well as Trump voters who are beginning to see that the Republican Party of the past no longer exists. Raising money is important, but he pledges not to accept campaign contributions from big monied interests like the DeVos’s and Koch Brothers, and large corporations. He is committed to rescinding Citizen’s United and will work to that end.
Regarding Trump’s bloated proposed military budget, Matt informed us that most of the Pentagon budget goes toward what he called ‘reset and modernize’ agendas which means fixing broken equipment and planning for modernization of new equipment. Today’s military is taxed with an expanded mission not only of fighting wars, but also of distribution of aid, rescue and relief operations. He emphasized that we need to stop sending our children to war who return with physical and mental wounds that compromise their ability to become productive members of society. He stressed that a large percentage of America’s suicide epidemic is made up of Vietnam War veterans. If that trend holds true, then America can expect a mental health crisis as returning Afghan, Iraqi, and Syrian war veterans age. We need to admit veterans into the Medicare system and allow them to be treated at local healthcare facilities as a way of improving their outcomes. He favors a graduated path to universal healthcare for all.
Matt emphasized that Americans have not had a major foreign affairs policy discussion in thirty years. We need to decide what we are about. Are we going to acknowledge global warming or not? Are we going to retreat into isolationism or engage as a world leader on the global stage? Are we going to address the need for immigration reform? The Trump administration has no world view, and treats relations with foreign powers as a quid pro quo arrangement of profit and loss bottom lines.
Matt is pro choice and supports common sense gun laws. One way to talk to people who are pro life is to emphasize that the way to reduce abortions is through sex education and contraception. One has to start with where people are at. People want to be listened to. The Democratic Party has to return to supporting organized labor whose members are beginning to vote Republican. We need to educate the citizenry that we must support immigration in order to bolster our workforce in the midst of a demographically aging population and declining birth rates. That we need both skilled and unskilled immigrants in order to stay competitive in today’s global economy. That we must have a path to citizenship for the undocumented.
Matt concluded by saying that while all of the First District counties are important, the largest concentration of population is in six counties ranging from Ludington to Harbor Springs. Grand Traverse County is a focal point for getting out the vote and supporting Democratic candidates who run for office. His campaign hopes to raise $1.5 million, but that he believes that his willingness to show up, connect with voters face-to-face can make all the difference in defeating a sitting Representative who is avoiding his constituents and refusing to meet with them.