Michael Bennet is the senior US Senator for Colorado, and is running as a Democratic candidate for president. The views expressed in this commentary are his own. View more opinion at CNN.
(CNN)America’s challenges are great and growing. The link between social mobility and economic opportunity is broken.
More than 10 million American children live in poverty, while the top 0.1% of taxpayers hold 20% percent of American wealth. Millions go without health care, while millions more are crushed by rising premiums. And each day, the planet grows warmer. Michael Bennet Instead of confronting these urgent challenges, politicians in Washington use them to divide us. Half-truths and recycled talking points masquerade for leadership. And on issue after issue, nothing changes.Unlike Washington, the American people haven’t given up on our country. They refuse to hand our children less opportunity, not more. That is why I am running for President. Like most Americans, I do not accept that our economy and our politics are too broken to fix. Read MoreIn this election, beating President Donald Trump is essential. But it is not enough. He is a symptom of our economic and political sclerosis, not the primary cause. In 2020, we must answer a deeper question: How can we move from permanent gridlock to enduring progress?Looking ahead, our country has three courses of action. We can continue to do nothing and hope our problems will work themselves out. Recent history offers ample evidence of the effects of doing nothing. With each year, it seems we moved closer to a system where politicians stir up controversy to raise money to win elections — all for the privilege of creating more controversies to raise money to win further elections.Here's the next political truism that Trump might overturnGiven this record, it is understandable why many are tempted by one-party rule, when either Democrats or Republicans control both the legislative and executive branches and can act without compromise. Republicans achieved that after 2016, and they used their power to eviscerate environmental protections and pass a tax cut that exacerbated inequality and exploded our national debt. But even if these policies had been wise, which they were not, the one-party course would still be wrong. Passing sweeping policy on a party-line vote, only to see it reversed in the next election, is not progress. There is no two-year solution to heath care, inequality, or climate change.To make lasting progress, we have to take a third route and advance ideas that break our partisan divide. On health care, for example, instead of forcing 180 million Americans to abandon their employer-based plans for Medicare for All, we should create a true public option called Medicare-X. My proposal would provide everyone the choice to keep their existing coverage, if they want, or move to an affordable public plan. On taxes, my American Family Act is a simple but bold proposal to fight inequality and confront the high cost of raising a child. For just 3% of the cost of Medicare for All, my plan would reduce childhood poverty by about 36% and provide a typical middle-class family of four at least $2,000 a year — all without adding to the bureaucracy.How Justin Amash's one-man revolt vs. Trump could gain steamOn climate change, my plan meets the emissions target set by scientists as quickly as possible by urgently engaging all Americans, instead of imposing solutions cooked up in Washington. It creates new opportunities for young people, farmers, and ranchers to shape America’s climate policy. It makes historic commitments to conserve our lands and oceans, not only preserving vital carbon sinks, but also creating new opportunities for rural communities. And it engages our entrepreneurs by deploying $1 trillion in federal resources to catalyze another $10 trillion in private investment in zero-emission technologies, building new markets and jobs.Solutions like these are not only how we win; they are how we break the logjam in Washington and make real progress.Electoral victory is important, but it is not an end in itself. It is intended to set in motion a pluralist process to resolve our disputes and move the country forward. We have many points of view in our country, and rediscovering our will to navigate and negotiate them is how we correct our course. This is not a call for lazy moderation or lame bipartisan agreements that split the difference between yesterday’s obsolete ideas. It is a call for the difficult, imaginative give-and-take that can produce enduring results.Some people might say that’s naïve. I think it’s more naïve to think we can keep doing what we’re doing and expect anything meaningful to change for our country.Stay up to date…
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That will not be easy with a politics awash in special interest money and elected officials who quake at the first sign of a social media storm. But that’s the reality. The Depression wasn’t easy. World War II wasn’t easy. The civil rights movement wasn’t easy. We’ve shown the necessary mettle before. For the sake of our country and the next generation, we need to show it again.