Shooting for the moon

Travis Souza is the Democratic candidate for House of Representatives District 2. Contact him at

“While we cannot guarantee that one day we will be first, we can guarantee that any failure to make this effort will make us last.”

—John F. Kennedy, May 25, 1961

President Kennedy spoke these words to Congress during “extraordinary times” while the country was facing an “extraordinary challenge.” More than 40 years later, we are in different, yet still extraordinary times, facing a new set of extraordinary challenges globally, nationally, within our state and individually.

The tragedies of Sept. 11 have changed all of us in many ways. For good reason, domestic security has become a higher priority. Our men and women in the Armed Forces have once again been called to defend democracy and the freedom of this country.

Americans have shown great heroism, courage and patriotism in the face of this crisis. It was heartwarming to see this nation unite behind the president during these troubling times. We have all had to sacrifice some of our liberties and privacy for the cause. However, we must be diligent in our vigilance to ensure that we do not give up essential rights and liberties that the founders secured in the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights. For if we allow the very ideals that generations of Americans have fought and died for to be sacrificed, we may win the battle, but the war is surely lost.

Domestically, we face many difficult and extraordinary challenges as well. Our schools are aging, under-equipped and over-capacity. We need to find more funding to train and retain quality teachers, as well as pay them the salaries that they deserve. We need to protect our remaining wilderness areas. We must protect the quality of the air we breathe and the water we drink. We must develop new sustainable methods to meet our rising energy needs that do not depend on fossil fuels. We must provide the jobs, the training and the support services to help move people out of poverty.

It seems that every day I hear that funding to another critical program has been cut or worse, eliminated. For example, the proposed federal budget drastically cuts funding to the Superfund program that would effectively halt cleanup at some of the most polluted sites in the country, possibly including the cleanup of toxic mercury in the Carson River. You will be hearing about many more examples like this in the weeks and months to come.

In the quote above, President Kennedy was talking of the challenge of landing an American on the moon. My challenge is to become your representative in the 108th U.S. Congress. I want to be your voice speaking to these issues, but I need your help.

I am running because I couldn’t sit on the bench and watch my team—Nevada’s Democrats—play shorthanded. Politics is not a spectator sport. We all need to get involved in the game. At the end of the day, win or lose, we can look back and see that our efforts have made a difference and that our voices have been heard.

I am neither a lamb nor a sacrifice. Had no one stepped forward, the sacrifice would have been our voice and a choice.