Jay Inslee: ‘I will make defeating climate change the first, paramount and overwhelming duty of the United States’

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Little Village is posting videos of all 19 speeches made by the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates at the Iowa Democratic Party Hall of Fame celebration in Cedar Rapids, so readers can hear each candidate in his or her own words.

Gov. Jay Inslee speaking with an attendee at the Iowa Democratic Party Hall of Fame celebration in Cedar Rapids, June 9, 2019. — Zak Neumann/Little Village

There were two things most people attending the Iowa Democratic Hall of Fame celebration knew about Jay Inslee before he took the stage on June 9. First, he’s the governor of Washington state (fewer people were likely aware that he’s in his second term, or that he spent 15 years in Congress before becoming governor). Second, he’s pledged to make fighting climate change the central focus of all his actions, if he’s elected president.

“I’ve come to share with you the two reasons I believe we’re going to make Donald Trump a blip in history,” Inslee told the party activists and elected officials gathered at the DoubleTree in Cedar Rapids.

The first reason — because it will drive Trump “nuts,” if his Democratic opponent is “a guy, who’s a Democrat, who has produced the single best economy in the United States” — allowed Inslee to boast about his accomplishments as governor.

“I’m proud to say we have the highest minimum wage in the United States, and the best GDP growth in the United States,” Inslee said.

Washington, home to Microsoft and Amazon, often tops lists of the best state economies. Inslee said the state’s economic success “has demonstrated that if you want to have economic progress, you ought to have economic and social progress values.”

The strong economy has allowed the state to support public education, the governor said.

“I’m proud to tell you, I’m a governor who got the biggest pay increases for educators in the United States,” Inslee said.

And the state is still promoting progressive policies that affect the economy, according to Inslee.

“I’m proud to say — I guess you could call this radical in Washington state — we believe that women should get paid the same as men do,” he said. “So, we’ve passed a law to protect gender pay equity, so the boss can’t hide the fact that he’s paying more to the men than the women.”

The governor also cited progressive efforts beyond the economic sphere.

“We’re not afraid of diversity,” Inslee said. “And that’s why I’m proud to tell you, I was the first governor in the United States to stand up against Donald Trump’s Muslim ban.”

Inslee’s “second reason we are going to make [Trump] a blip in history,” was that he believes the party will fully commit itself to his signature issue — fighting climate change.

“I’m running for president of the United States, and I can tell you that if I’m given this honor, I will wake up every day — and I’m pledging this to you today, and I’m the candidate who’s making this pledge and the only one so far — I will make defeating climate change the first, paramount and overwhelming duty of the United States and we’re going to get this job done,” Inslee said.

Demonstrators from Greenpeace outside of the Iowa Democratic Hall of Fame celebration in Cedar Rapids, June 9, 2019. — Zak Neumann/Little Village

Inslee told the audience his plan for fighting climate change will create 8 million jobs. But he also offered a more personal reason for running for president on a climate change platform.

“I want to make sure that in my final days on Earth, I can look at my three grandkids — and look them in the eye — and say, ‘You know what? I did everything humanly possible to save you from climate change,'” he said.

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