"My Plan for 2020"
(4:19 video)


Hi, I'm Jeff Merkley.

To me, America has always been about giving every individual, every child, a full opportunity to thrive regardless of which side of the railroad tracks you come from.

After all, according to family lore, my grandmother lived for a time in a boxcar.

My dad overcame an illness as a teenager that left him hospitalized for a year, but he grew up to live a full life as a husband, a father, and a union machinist.  Working with his hands and his mind he earned enough that my parents could join the middle class, buy a modest ranch home, take camping vacations, and save for retirement. 

And thanks to good public schools, I was able to become the first in my family to go to college.

My family's story is the story of America creating opportunity.

I still live in the same blue collar neighborhood, but today hope and opportunity feel a lot further away for my neighbors than they did for me.  Their chances are different.  Not because their families are different, but because America is different.

For decades the privileged and powerful have wreaked our politics and our economy.

Now three great crises threaten America.

A democracy crisis.  Gerrymandering, voter suppression and dark money corrupting our ability to elect a government by and for the people.

A climate crisis, afflicting our forests, our farms, our fisheries, costing more and more families their lives and livelihoods.

An opportunity crisis, strangling the American Dream as affordable housing, quality education, health care and good-paying jobs—the four foundations for thriving families—keep getting further out of reach.

We are way off track and the future of America hangs in the balance.  Every American who grows up outside the circle of privilege and power, every underdog, deserves a full opportunity to thrive.

We are in a battle for the soul of our nation, and we have to win.

Over the last year I've weighed whether I can contribute more to the battle by running for president or by running for re-election to the Senate.  I've had amazing encounters with Americans in every corner of our country, and those conversations reinforce the urgency for bold action now.  But to win these battles we need both strong leadership in the Oval Office and strong leadership in the Senate.

Today I'm announcing that I am not running for president.  I believe that there are Democrats now in the presidential race who are speaking to the importance of tackling the big challenges we face.

But what I'm also sure of is that right now the Senate is not prepared to be a full partner in this fight.  My best contribution is to run for re-election and do all I can to help the Senate be a full partner in addressing the challenges before us.

So over the next two years, while I ask Oregonians to re-elect me to the Senate, I'm going to help elect a president, senators and other leaders who will live and breathe the fight even, or especially, when that means standing up to very powerful opponents.  I'll work to build coalitions around bold policy solutions.  And I'm going to work to fix our broken and dysfunctional Senate so it isn't just a graveyard for good ideas.

To fix America, we must fix the Senate. 

Any challenge of substantial size, and these are big challenges, needs both champions in elected office and a surge of grassroots power, and for that reason I'm asking for you, each of you, to join me in this battle.  To put it bluntly, America can't win without you.

It's up to us to fight for working Americans, to fight for those left behind, to fight for every American outside the circle of power and privilege, every underdog to have the full measure of opportunity.

This is our America.  This is our future.

So let's work together, all of us, we the people, to build a better, fairer, stronger, more prosperous, more beautiful America for all.