Democrats looking to replace Donald Trump in 2020 will have plenty of options to choose from. Though the first primary elections aren’t until early next year, the race is already well underway with 19 Democratic candidates currently vying for the job of president. Wayne Messam, the current mayor of Miramar, FL, is one of these candidates.
With nearly a decade of experience in public service as an elected official, Messam is a former football star, who played wide receiver for Florida State University before being drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals in 1997. Additionally, Messam co-owns a construction company with his wife Angela. In an exclusive interview with Blavity:Politics, he shared his vision for bringing back opportunity and the American Dream to working and middle class people. He spoke openly about how he stands out among his competitors, including the vast differences between himself and Donald Trump, and shared his advice to Black millennials, who may feel apathetic and disengaged from the political process.
In addition, Messam discussed his ambitious plans to help erase student loan debt.
“I’m the only presidential candidate that has proposed a plan to forgive the $1.5 trillion in student loan debt,” Messam said. “The $1.5 trillion in student loan debt is a burden held by millennials, recent graduates, parents and grandparents that are funding higher education for their kids. We will pay for this by repealing the nearly $2 trillion in Trump tax cuts that were passed for corporations and the richest Americans.”
Messam cited that there are currently roughly 44 million Americans who hold student loan debt. While Republicans don’t believe in forgiving that debt — largely because they see it as an issue of personal responsibility — Messam argues that seeking higher education is necessary in order to get a high-paying job.
“Corporations demand [higher education], or you won’t even be hired because you don’t have the skill set or the training. So, it’s not just a free choice you make,” Messam added. “And guess who has to borrow the money? Working class people; mostly people of color and middle class Americans.”
To Messam, eliminating student loan debt as a way to boost the economy. He said that it will not only add billions, it would also create more than a million jobs and free up to $400 monthly for the average borrower.
Though he is still relatively unknown to voters outside of his district, Messam brings clear vision and enthusiasm for restoring the American Dream to the 2020 race. In addition to taking on student loan debt, his platform includes gun control, immigrant rights and climate change.
In a very crowded field of candidates, political experts have speculated that he’s a longshot, who doesn’t have much of a chance to win. Still, Messam remains confident that he has the right message for American, especially for millennials. When asked how he can appeal to millennials, Messam shared that he connects his policy proposals to their hopes and dreams. He wants to inspire and challenge young people to remain engaged and make change.
“[Millennials] are looking for people who inspire them — people that will challenge them to be problem solvers […] and let them know that there is hope, and a way for them to achieve what they want to achieve,” Messam said.
Messam concluded our interview by offering this advice to millennials: “You have more power than you know, especially as a demographic group.”
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