Dr. Longjohn is running for Congress to improve the health and quality of life for everyone in Southwest Michigan and across the United States. A high quality of life depends on having access to affordable health care, a safe and healthy environment, educational opportunities, and the resources needed to make ends meet. Matt’s policy priorities and decisions will always be based on the greatest potential to improve the lives of those he aims to serve. He won’t let special interests or Washington politics get in the way of delivering results for hard-working families.
Matt understands that a commitment to collaboration, inclusiveness, high ethical standards, and civility when working through difficult issues are all keys to leadership. He also knows first-hand that young people and their families sometimes struggle and may need a hand to get on their feet. His track-record as an innovator and problem solver proves he has the skills needed to effectively practice this kind of effective leadership on local, regional and national levels.
His family has been in Southwest Michigan for 150+ years, and his values reflect the shared community values of this district: prioritizing family and community; treating all people fairly; living up to the promise of a handshake; dedication to producing greater opportunities for our children and future generations; and a belief that hard work and charitable living benefits everyone.
Dr. Longjohn believes that access to high-quality and affordable health care is a human right. It is unacceptable that our ZIP codes tell us more about our family’s health than our genetic code. Everyone—regardless of age, income, race, ethnicity, gender or sexual identity—should be confident in their ability to receive needed care or preventive services, and not be forced to choose between obtaining essential health care and other vital daily needs.
Matt is one of a handful of people in U.S. history to have successfully demonstrated how health care can change for the better. Dr. Longjohn has shown how entry-level health workers hired by community organizations can help neighbors to avoid chronic diseases while also reducing health care costs. The power of community innovation needs to be unlocked in our health care system, and public health needs to be prioritized in ongoing health care reform efforts.
Dr. Longjohn believes that there is a need for constant vigilance to defend against efforts by Washington politicians like Congressman Upton to sabotage the individual markets, water-down the Essential Health Benefits that guarantee coverage for women’s health and preventive services, or to allow insurers to waive coverage for pre-existing conditions. Other immediate changes are needed in our health care system to reduce drug prices, secure resources for mental health and rural health care, invest in prevention services that will save lives and money, and to ensure we are rewarding providers for producing outcomes instead of just seeing a high volume of patients. Matt also believes we need a long-term strategy to expand Medicare and Medicaid, and to reduce the role that employers play in health care decision-making.
Too many hard-working families are struggling too often to make ends meet. It shouldn’t be this hard. The 35-year experiment in producing jobs and stimulating the economy through unaccountable tax breaks for corporations and the wealthiest among us has only resulted in widening income inequalities and a shrinking middle class. Full-time workers need live-able wages, and good-paying jobs need to be protected—not just created—and women deserve equal pay at all salary levels. International trade agreements must not incentivize employers to leave the country, or help them profit by devaluing American labor. Jobs programs should target rural as well as urban communities, and Dreamers should be welcomed participants in our economy. Employers can take on less of the burden of providing health insurance for their workers, but should be expected to put some of those savings back into other benefits and programs that protect jobs and keep them in the district. As in health care, education, and environmental policies, Matt believes in unlocking the power of community by focusing on growing local innovation opportunities. Small businesses, trade and labor associations, and community banks, must all be supported better by our federal policies by eliminating unnecessary regulations and putting them on more equal footing with larger national and multi-national corporations.
Matt grew up in a family with a number of teachers, and is a strong proponent of high-quality public education. As a product of public schools and a parent of kids in public schools, he knows first-hand how public schools help to produce community and opportunities for our families. He believes that government resources should not be going to private or for-profit education institutions, and that funding for public education needs to be increased. We also can’t let Title IX be rolled back in ways that make it harder for victims of sexual assault to seek justice. In addition to being a strong supporter of teachers and K-12 schools, Matt also places a high value on quality early childhood education. Matt knows that not all learning is done in an educational setting. Vocational education, job training programs, and apprenticeships must also be strengthened for people who decide not to obtain a four-year degree or for those who have lost a job or are seeking a new line of work. Matt graduated medical school with $250,000 of educational debt, which he is still paying off, and believes strongly that we need to expand opportunities for student loan restructuring and forgiveness through community service. Young people coming out of college should be incentivized to make a difference in their communities, and not just to make a dollar.
The evidence is clear. Risks of climate change are real and imminent, and work to protect our environment for future generations is needed immediately. Matt believes pulling out of the Paris Accords was a mistake, and will work to support the development of a clean and renewable energy economy. Our Great Lakes and other natural resources here in Michigan are treasures, and protecting them, our rivers, and other green spaces is a fundamental job of public leadership. These natural assets are also what creates tourism, and it’s in the best interest of our economy that we fiercely defend them. In addition to supporting efforts to guarantee clean air and water, we can also be making environmental changes that support healthy behaviors a growing economy. For example, we need walkable and bike-able communities, complete streets policies, and regional food systems. These changes to our built environment can make healthy choices become easier choices, and provide economic development at the same time.
We need a representative in Congress from the 6th district who will stand up to Donald Trump’s unhinged agenda. Fred Upton has voted in line with the Trump agenda more than 98% of the time, and stood by as the chaos created by President Trump’s administration has hurt Southwest Michigan families. People want to be able to live their healthiest lives and to know that they can make ends meet while planning for their kids’ future or their retirements. Mr. Upton has been playing politics with people’s health, and their quality of life is being put at risk as he increasingly puts the interests of his corporate lobbyist friends and donors above those of his constituents.
When Matt gets to Congress, Matt will be a leader in standing up to the incoherent policies of President Trump. If a policy that the Trump administration does not help improve the quality of life of his Southwest Michigan neighbors, it will not vote for it. When President Trump says something that is off the wall or offensive, and he will, then Matt will use his position to speak up for those affected by what the Trump administration is doing. Matt has spent 20 years building coalitions built on trust and shared values, which has led to a career of producing measurable outcomes and helping the most people possible have a higher quality of life. Nothing predicts the future better than the past, and Matt’s background speaks to how Matt will govern when he gets to Congress.
For nearly two decades, Matt has been working to break down systemic and institutional inequalities affecting many groups of people. Matt’s experience in developing inclusive and equitable policies and programs has taught him not to assume everyone will be affected equally by policy changes. Policymakers need to be able to identify and eliminate harmful unintended consequences of policies that keep vulnerable groups of people from pursuing life, liberty, and happiness to the same degree as others. This means we need to over-serve the underserved and most-vulnerable among us by both designing and evaluating policy with improving equity as one of the most important desired outcomes to any policy change.
In addition to being proactive in breaking down systemic racism, sexism, classism, and other forms of discrimination, Matt will never support any bill that grants anyone the “Right to Hate” and will speak out against attempts to marginalize any group of people in our country. For example, in recent years we have seen states pass legislation that would allow for discrimination of the LGBTQ community. Whether it was blocking people from marrying whomever they love, or not allowing for transgender individuals to use the bathroom of their identified gender, or letting businesses not serve individuals based on their sexual orientation; these policies were discriminatory. Matt will never support any such policy proposal at the federal level, and as a member of Congress Matt will speak out about them even if they are state laws.
Matt believes the 2nd Amendment does give individuals the rights to bear arms. As a gun owner, a member of a military family, and as the father of an expert marksman, Matt understands the role of guns in the culture of Southwest Michigan and doesn’t want to take away the rights of responsible gun owners.
Matt also doesn’t believe the 2nd Amendment has been interpreted to mean that ANY individual can own ANY firearm at ANY time, and Matt believes we must immediately take a public health approach to confront the epidemic of gun violence in this country. After every mass shooting, we see members of Congress sending thoughts and prayers to victims, but they don’t do much in the way of passing legislation that will engineer gun injury and gun violence out of our lives. Matt wants to change that and can bring years of experience in bringing a public health approach to gun violence to the policy debates in Washington.
We need good short- and long-term policies to respond to the epidemic. It will take us decades to get a handle on gun violence in the U.S., but we can’t let ‘perfection be the enemy of the good’ when debating gun violence prevention policies.
For long-term reductions in gun violence and gun injury, we need to fund the Center for Disease Control fully and Prevention’s National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS) for the foreseeable future, as we have funded the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) since the 1970s. Just as FARS has led to the development of consumer safety standards in car manufacturing (air-bags, seat-belts, etc.) and laws (blood-alcohol level limits, graduated drivers’ licenses, etc.) and transportation system enhancements (rumble strips, guardrails, etc.), the NVDRS could help us to identify patterns in the gun violence epidemic that can be best addressed in a number of ways to reduce the number of gun injuries in the U.S. We also need to expand and modernize the background check system that makes sure we keep guns out of the hands of people who should not possess them. Red-Flag provisions should allow for law enforcement and judges to use their discretion in blocking sales and even taking away guns from those who should not own them. Our mental health systems, especially in rural health systems, need support because the top reason for gun death in the 6th district is suicide by older white males, and if we can expand our mental health services we can also reduce the number of suicides. Congress should also support local and state efforts to run ‘buyback’ and ‘meltdown’ programs, just like we support public safety efforts to collect and dispose of unused and unsafe medications.
In the short term, we must be focused on protecting the most vulnerable among us: kids in schools and victims of domestic violence. Arming teachers is not a solution Matt supports. Matt wants fewer guns in schools, not more of them. Appropriating funding for schools to adapt their security systems to 21st-century threats is something Matt supports. Providing funding for trained public safety officers to be present on school campuses, and with access to firearms, is not something Matt opposes. But, as part of any debate about how we fund school safety, Matt also believes we should be leveraging the resources of our health care system and supporting school-based health centers, school nurses, and counseling staff with mental health surveillance competencies. Matt believes these professionals are more likely than metal detectors to identify higher-risk children and adolescents who might have problems that could lead to violence in the future, and that we should be providing at-risk students the care and social services they need.
We must protect our government, and ourselves, from the corrupting influence of money in politics. Since the Citizens United Decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2010, “dark money” in politics has become an increasingly large and corrupting force in our political system. Our representatives in Washington are more frequently doing the work of their wealthy donors and the corporate lobbyists who defend multinational corporations, and not as focused on doing the work of the people they represent. Congressman Upton is a prime example of this, as someone who has taken more and more money from corporate PACs, had less and less engagement with people in his district (it’s been more than 8 years since he had a open and unscripted town hall meeting in this District), and someone who has changed his policy positions over time while voting in the interest of his donors over the interests of his constituents.
When in Congress, Matt will do anything he can to ensure we have a more representative and ethical government where corporations are not given the same rights as people. We need 100% transparency in the financing of our political system. Dark money needs to be eliminated. We must also limit gerrymandering, stop all efforts to disenfranchise voters, and give full representation to the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and other U.S. Territories. Matt believes in public financing of elections, and will support legislation to test and implement campaign finance models such as:
- Creating a matching fund system that would allow for all individual contributions of up to $150 to be matched. This system would create greater equity between big donors and small donors by giving those without the means to write $1,000 checks a larger voice in the election process.
- A small dollar voucher system that would give every citizen vouchers to donate to campaigns. Thus they would be able to decide which politician gets their vouchers. This system again would create equity between big donors and small donors in how politicians compete for donations.
Ultimately, what we need to do is overturn the Citizens United decision, plan and simple. In the absence of any new legislation to address the factors that led to the Supreme Court’s decision, Matt would support a 28th amendment to declare that corporations do not have the same standing as people in our legal system.