May 09, 2016 /

Mother’s Day: Restoring a Voice for the Voiceless

When I was a little girl, my mom sacrificed so much for my brother and me. She and my dad impressed upon us that we could be anything we wanted to be and that we could go after our dreams – no matter what.

Now as a mom to three young children of my own, I’m inspired every day by Cole, Grace, and Brynn’s limitless potential. Moms have a sense about this – it’s what drives us to do everything we can to make our kids’ futures even brighter than our own. And if there’s one thing I can tell you about motherhood, it’s that when mothers face threats to our children’s happiness and potential, we take action.

This was the case two years ago when Gail Gleason, the mom of NFL great Steve Gleason, came to me with concerns for the ALS community. Her son has ALS, and she was afraid that Medicare would soon strip away access to a critical technology that makes it possible for people like Steve to communicate with the world around them. Before this eye tracking technology became available, once people lost their ability to type, they could no longer communicate. This groundbreaking innovation changed their lives.

Even more than my outrage as a lawmaker was my outrage as a mom. When you raise your children, you want them to be defined by their potential, not by their limitations. You want them to have every opportunity.

So together, two moms from Eastern Washington took on the Medicare bureaucracy, and last summer the cutting-edge speech generation technology that empowers people living with degenerative diseases like ALS to communicate through their eye movements was returned to the people who need it most. While this effort, known as the Gleason Act, is undoubtedly among the most powerful, special moments in my years of service, our work is far from finished.

It may seem like Gail Gleason was just one worried mom who came to me with her concerns, but she isn’t alone. Sadly, this bureaucracy nightmare is just one drop in an ocean of rules created by unelected bureaucrats who have become disconnected from their mission.

I believe this is causing the American people to lose their voice in our representative system of government.

For every mom out there just trying to do the right thing to raise her family, run her small business, or pay her bills, there’s a rule, regulation or unelected, unaccountable bureaucrat getting in the way.

This isn’t what our Founders intended for us. In fact, the very first Article of our Constitution spells out what I call a “We, the People mandate” – where everyone from the Congress to the President is mandated to listen to the people, and to respect their will.

Today, we see countless examples of bureaucrats encroaching on that mandate – and our current president is no exception, unfortunately. This is exactly why there’s an ever-increasing cause to worry that our Founders’ vision for representative government is slipping away.

We need to get back to the basics, rethink government from top to bottom, and restore the people’s voice – their power — in representative government.

As we come together at the beginning of this month to thank our moms for everything they do to help us reach our potential, let’s not forget just how important it is to make sure those who feel they have lost their voice have a microphone before them.

Because when the voice of the people – We, the People – is returned to every man, woman, and child is this country, together we’ll have a greater opportunity to pursue our own versions of the American Dream.