‘You get the grades, and I will get the money.”

That is what a father I know told his daughter years ago when she presented him with a sparkling report card. He promised her that if she could get into college, he would pay her way through it.

Fast forward to today. She got the grades to get into the college of her choice. But as hard as dad worked, he just could not save enough to afford to pay for her college education, and he told me that he is sick about it. Now, she is working part-time, and they both are borrowing — a lot.

That is a shame. But their story is not unique. It used to be possible for hardworking families to live a good life, save for retirement and maybe help put their kids through college. But today, Minnesota families are working harder than ever and seeing less and less for it. Students are taking on high debt to pay for college; jobs do not pay the wages and benefits needed for a good life; health care is getting more expensive and harder to reach; and savings have evaporated for many families.

This did not happen by accident. While Minnesota families have been hit hard, the richest individuals and biggest corporations have only gotten richer with the help of some politicians. Most Minnesota businesses — especially smaller, local businesses — play by the rules, and they expect their big corporate competitors to do the same. But when laws are not enforced, some companies cut corners to try to squeeze out an extra dollar for CEO bonuses at the expense of Minnesota employees, customers, and our clean air and water.

That is why Minnesotans need a fighter on their side who will enforce the law to make our economy fairer and defend the rights of all Minnesotans. As your next attorney general, I will be a people’s lawyer who will hold those in power accountable when they step on your rights — whether that’s Monsanto telling you how to raise your crops, Navient cheating student loan borrowers out of more money, or the federal government infringing upon health care, a woman’s right to choose, or the human and civil rights of all.

This is work I have been doing my whole life, from 16 years as a civil rights lawyer to more than a decade legislating on behalf of Minnesota consumers, workers and families.

Over the first few weeks of this campaign, I have had the pleasure of meeting with Minnesotans in more than two dozen cities — from Virginia to Moorhead to Mankato. From the Iron Range to southern Minnesota, I have heard from Minnesotans concerned about wage theft and workers’ compensation, equal pay and health care access, and the role of pharmaceutical companies in rising drug prices and the growing opioid crisis. As the “people’s lawyer,” I can hold companies and the federal government accountable — to better ensure a level playing field and equal rights for all in our state.

I have also seen firsthand how the harmful practices of the Trump administration are affecting Minnesotans. In St. Cloud, I met with a young Hispanic woman who came to this country to escape domestic violence in her home country. If she had done the same today, under the Trump administration’s heartless policies, she could have faced indefinite detention and may have had her children separated from her, all for trying to seek legal safety in the U.S.

It is not just cruel policies of family separation and detention — the Trump administration is also threatening the health care of millions of Americans through attacks on the Affordable Care Act. And we have seen how the current conservative-majority Supreme Court is threatening the rights of women to make their own health care choices, along with the rights of workers and our immigrant neighbors. Whether it is corporate special interests or the federal government, Minnesotans need someone who will hold the powerful accountable to the people of Minnesota.

For more than a decade, it has been my honor to represent Minnesotans in Congress, where I have championed protections for workers and consumers, supported reproductive rights and equal pay for women, fought to expand access to affordable health care, and advanced greater opportunities for all. As your next attorney general, I will continue that work and fight to protect the rights and freedoms of all. Minnesotans will know that they always have a fighter on their side.

 

Keith Ellison represents Minnesota’s Fifth District in the U.S. House. He is a DFL candidate for Minnesota attorney general.