I recently spoke at the Gateway Democrats meeting at a Communications Workers of America hall in St. Louis County. Addressing the broad coalition of Democratic groups in the room, I recalled that the inside of Missouri State Capitol in Jefferson City includes an engraving of the words “Progress is the law of life.”
However, if the Republican officeholders who control that building have demonstrated one thing, it’s that unfortunately those words are not true. Progress isn’t a guarantee. Republican extremists will use their offices to push us backwards.
That’s also why I’ve never been prouder to be a Missouri Democrat. We’re the only party fighting for progress for working families. That progress means more jobs, higher wages, quality healthcare and strong public schools.
Absolutely integral to our vision of progress is the empowerment of women.
While the Republican Party is gutting employment protections for women and people of color via Senate Bill 43, the Democratic Party is proactively pushing equal-pay solutions to close the gender pay gap. Access to healthcare, including sexual and reproductive health, is central to expanding economic opportunity to all Americans and fundamental to economic security for women and families.
The majority of Missourians – including Democrats, Republicans and Independents – support Roe v. Wade and believe the government should not prevent a woman from making her own private reproductive health decisions.
The Missouri Democratic Party is fighting to protect Planned Parenthood funding, to ensure that women have access to the critical health services they need.
Democratic candidates are welcome to their personal views on abortion, but the Missouri Democratic Party will never advocate that they use an elected office to limit or take away a woman’s ability to make her own reproductive health decisions – including the right to a safe, legal abortion.
In order to advance this vision of progress that protects and empowers women, the Missouri Democratic Party is reaching out to every community in Missouri. As chair I’ve held events in over 60 counties, from the City of St. Louis to rural Holt County on the Nebraska border. The Missouri Democratic Party’s platform committee has held dozens of listening posts all across our state.
We’ve also opened up our candidate recruitment process to Democrats around the state by encouraging any candidates, potential candidates, or individuals with tips on who might be a good candidate to email Run@MissouriDems.org.
It’s important that all of us work together to find strong candidates that will fight for progress – because our vision for a better Missouri isn’t an inevitable law of life.
We need to fight for it.
Stephen Webber is chair of the Missouri Democratic Party.