Several Democratic candidates for Congress gathered Tuesday in the Missouri Capitol Rotunda to sign "Our Promise to America."
Winston Apple, a congressional candidate from Independence who is seeking the seat in Missouri's 6th District, spearheaded the event. The promise is intended to address issues vital to Americans, Apple said.
He said a goal is to have candidates from every congressional election sign on to the promise.
"I've talked to candidates from New York to Hawaii to Alaska," said Apple, a member of the Democratic National Committee. "Their excitement is palpable."
The promise consists of 10 pieces of legislation outlined on the Democratic Party Platform and attempts to guarantee U.S. workers can get jobs with living wages and have freedom to form unions. It says Americans should have access to public health care and quality education. It is intended to make sure the wealthiest citizens and corporations pay their fair share of taxes. It would end partisan and racial gerrymandering, supporters said.
Five Democratic candidates attended the event. They were: Apple; Angelica Earl, of Overland, who is running for U.S. Senate; John Messmer, who is running for the state's 2nd District; and John Farmer de la Torre and Vince Jennings, who are both running for the 7th District.
Apple said he's concerned about candidates taking large donations — both Republican and Democratic.
"Money is a problem at the top of the Democratic party as well," Apple said. "The promise doesn't call them out for taking the money. But I'm convinced that most Democrats would win by being right on the issues."
In his campaign for the Democratic nominee for president in 2016, Sen. Bernie Sanders didn't take money from large donors, Apple said.
"Bernie Sanders proved you can raise a lot of money without violating your principles," he said.
As he began speaking to listeners Tuesday in the Rotunda, Apple pointed to an inscription overhead.
"It says in big gold letters right up there, 'Ideas control the world.' I would begin today by sharing a few ideas with you that are exerting some degree of control over the world at present," he said.
When the country's Founding Fathers signed the Declaration of Independence, Apple said, they signed a document full of noble ideas. Further, the document lays out the ideals on which the nation is founded, he said.
That document, he said, tells its people when a government or form of government fails in its duty to secure their rights or no longer has their consent, it is their right and duty to alter the government and secure their rights.
"Alterations are needed at this time," he said. "It is our right — it is our duty — to make the necessary alterations. As citizens of the United States, we are truly blessed in this regard to be able to change our government with ballots instead of bullets."
Each candidate spoke about issues addressed in the promise.
All across the state are people who need health care, Farmer de la Torre said.
"The truth is that America needs progressives to fight for health care," he said. "We progressives believe that the public should have a public option. We believe the public should be able to obtain insurance from the government."
It is the affordable, moral and necessary thing to do, he said.
Corporations and wealthy individuals have a responsibility to pay their fair share in taxes, Farmer de la Torre added.
"We progressives intend to make sure that they do pay," he said.
Text of the pledge can be found at promisetoamerica.us/our-promise-to-america.