Rockville, MD - 02/06/2018
I’m Neal Simon, and I want to tell you why we are here today, a bit about myself, and what we can do together for the future of Maryland and our country.
We are here today because I, like so many of you, feel politically homeless. The two parties have been pulled by their leaders to the extreme left and the extreme right, and those of us in the middle have been deserted.
Whether you consider yourself center-left, center right or a true moderate, you no longer have a home.
The infighting that consumes our country’s leaders has brought gridlock, stagnation and even shutdowns. And we are forced to watch as the parties selfishly chip away at our sense of community and drag us deeper into debt without addressing our most pressing social and economic problems.
I am here today because I believe elected officials should be more loyal to the best interests of their country than to the interests of their party.
I am here today because I believe that progress and people should come ahead of political games.
I am here today because I want to help people get ahead through common sense solutions for the common good.
Now let me tell you a story.
This is a story of people of great courage and strength from far flung corners of the world. It’s a story about a 17-year-old boy and a 16-year-old girl from small towns in Belarus, who each left their families to travel alone almost half way around the world, because they believed intensely in the promise of America. Fortunately, under the comforting shade of the Statue of Liberty, they met each other and fell in love and eventually raised a family.
It’s also the story about a family of eight from Morocco that left the only world they knew to come to America in pursuit of opportunity for their children and grandchildren. Collectively these two families spoke seven languages—none of which was English.
Those people are my family. And, I am the proud son and grandson of immigrants. And my father, whose parents came from Belarus, is here with us today.
My grandparents came to America because they believed in this country’s values and ideals. They believed in working hard, getting a good education for their kids, and leaving more for their children than they had for themselves. They believed in contributing to and pledging their allegiance to a country that opened its arms to them. They felt respected and they respected the diverse communities that nurtured them.
These communities worked together, despite their differences, to lift each other up.
They were part of the united America that we all believe in. A united America with a functional government that created opportunities that many called “The American Dream.”
But today, the shining city on the hill that once instilled hope in their eyes and steadfastness in their hearts is being tarnished: its foundation weakened by corrosive politics in Washington.
That deep belief that brought my family here, that success would be born out of grit, hard work and service to their communities was the essence of their generation.
In its place today, we have a country divided, in large part because of partisan politics. We now have sisters who don’t speak to each other and childhood friendships destroyed, because we live in an atmosphere polluted by leaders who no longer engage in reasonable, civil discourse. Today, many Americans cannot even discuss politics with their loved ones.
Our leaders have stopped working together. They have stopped listening to each other and they’ve stopped listening to the concerns of working people.
We have a country where Congress works on behalf of special interests while failing to invest in the future of our children, including my children, two of whom are here today. Ike and Sophie please raise your hands. Instead of investing in their future, we are leaving their generation a mountain of government debt.
Our elected representatives are too interested in winning the next news cycle and protecting their place in the power structure than they are in fixing our schools, creating high-paying jobs, and lowering the high cost of healthcare for businesses and families.
We have a middle class that struggles to get ahead and pay for basic needs like healthcare for themselves and their aging parents. Two weeks ago in Hyattsville, I met a woman who along with her husband have full-time jobs, including one with the government. Every month, they pay their rent, pay twenty-seven-hundred dollars for student loans, plus health care costs for a sick parent, and support their two children. They went to college and are working hard at good jobs, yet every month they struggle to make ends meet. It shouldn't be that way.
The dysfunction in Congress is not just hurting average working people here in Maryland, like that couple in Hyattsville, it’s a threat to democracy itself. Confidence in our most venerable institutions is being eroded by partisan investigations. We no longer have a shining city on a Hill, but a Hill, one only about 15 miles from here, that ceases to be a shining example of decency, compromise and progress.
Maryland deserves better. America deserves better.
What was once the world’s greatest deliberative body has forgotten how to function, is no longer able to address the issues that most people in Maryland and America are concerned about.
This has to change.
But it won’t change, it will never change, if we keep electing the same people, from the same two parties, year after year, over and over again.
Because the problem with our two-party system IS the two-party system.
I believe there is a way out.
I believe there is a solution.
A clear path that leads us to a new America, one where progress is commonplace and solutions are driven by common sense.
An America where everyone benefits from a world class education and everyone has a shot to get ahead, whether you were born in a poor neighborhood in Baltimore or in the wealthiest parts of Montgomery County, or even if you came here from another country like Belarus or Morocco.
Just last week, I spoke to Malcolm, a student at Prince Georges Community College who is studying cyber-security. Malcolm is one of ten children who spent part of his childhood in a homeless shelter. His biggest fear is not finding a job when he graduates. We need leaders who will stop focusing on winning arguments and start focusing on making sure Malcolm gets a good job.
So how do we get leaders like that?
Electing more, nonpartisan moderates to a divided Senate who will tip the balance of power away from the partisan extremes and into the hands of independent leaders who will get the job done.
Who won’t forget who elected them.
Who will put people over politics and country over party.
Because our government should not be about red vs blue. It should be about red, white and blue.
And, that, my fellow Marylanders is why today, unaffiliated from any political party, I am declaring my candidacy to represent you in the United States Senate.
I want to go to the United States Senate for three reasons:
First, I want to help people get ahead. I want to help people get a better education and get the skills needed to succeed. And I want to help Maryland attract the high-paying jobs that Marylanders want. Too many people are working pay-check to pay-check, working two jobs to make ends meet. We need more good jobs and a workforce that’s ready for those jobs.
We also need to reduce the crippling cost of health care, which right now costs Marylanders eleven-hundred dollars more per person than our neighbors in Virginia, and nationally we spend double the average of other industrialized countries.
Second, I want to bring the country together. A nation this divided, this polarized cannot stand. I believe that, despite our differences, we CAN work together to strengthen America. It starts with listening to all points of view, communicating respectfully, and using facts to make decisions.
At all my companies, I have been surrounded by smart people with varying viewpoints, and I have always been able to build a level of consensus and make progress together. I will bring that style of leadership to the Senate.
And third, I want to change the way Washington works. Congress is not listening to us, Congress is listening to its party bosses and special interests. Without the shackles of a party label and with the credibility of being a moderate independent, I will be able to lead from the center.
I will be a strong, independent voice focused on putting people, progress and our country above stubborn politics and parties. And I am committed to any type of political reform, including ending gerrymandering and opening primaries, that will reduce partisanship in the future.
And that’s what I intend to do as Maryland’s Senator.
I don’t enter this race lightly.
But after traveling this state and talking to people from all walks of life, I know it’s time for a change.
The non-partisan movement in this country is on the precipice of affecting massive change for the American people. Forty two percent of us now identify as independents and we are on our way to becoming the majority.
It’s an exciting time, for certain. More independents are being elected to offices at the state and federal level. From narrowly divided state legislatures where independents hold the sway of power to governors like my friend Gov. Bill Walker of Alaska who is leading by bringing people together for the good of his state. Moderate independents are making an impact.
If you think people should be more loyal to their parties than to their country or their constituencies, then I’m not the Senator for you.
But if you think we should come together instead of being torn apart, join us.
If you think common sense is better than partisan extremism, join us.
If you think progress and people should trump politics and acrimony, join us.
And, when you elect me to the US Senate, know that I will never forget to whom I am accountable. YOU. The people of Maryland. Not to a voting block, not to a special interest and definitely not to a party boss.
So, my friends, the future starts today. It starts now.
I hope you join us as we make history here in Maryland for the good of our state and the future of our union.