My name is Mariah Phillips. Before I started running for Congress, I taught US Government to kids in Murfreesboro. I taught my students how government is supposed to work, which I suppose also makes me a history teacher.

Right now our government isn’t working. People across the 4th district are struggling to find good paying jobs that will support a family. Hospitals are closing in our rural communities.

Roads and bridges are crumbling from lack of attention and investment. We worry that our community will be the next to find lead in the water at our schools. And yet every time Congress convenes, they can’t seem to do anything to address these problems.

Today is Constitution Day. When I teach my students about the Constitution, I teach them about the wonderful document that our founders created to form most successful democracy in history.

It is a document that cemented the core freedoms and liberties that protect us from tyranny.

I also teach my students that the Constitution has been amended 27 times over the years because the founders made it possible for America to evolve and adapt to changing times. It is good thing they did because otherwise I would not be running for office today, or even be voting in this election, neither would my husband or my children.

The founders set out to write a document that would allow a government of the people, for the people and by the people to grow and prosper, but never lose sight of our core values. Today, groups like the Freedom Caucus and Representatives like Scott DesJarlais have distorted the Constitution.

You see the founders did not intend for lawmakers 240 years later to use the Constitution as an excuse not to govern. They did not intend for the Constitution to be used as an excuse to shutdown the government to take away healthcare from millions of Americans. They did not intend for the Constitution to be used to divide Americans against each other and grind government to a halt.

The founders loved a good debate, but today, the people who claim to revere the founders the most avoid a good debate at all cost. The Speaker of the House won’t even bring a bill up for a vote unless it has a majority of support from his own party.

I can’t think of anything farther from the ideals espoused in the Constitution than one party rule. It is the opposite of everything the founders intended for our legislative process.

I’m running for Congress because I believe in the Constitution and what the founders were fighting for when they wrote it: A healthy, spirited debate on the merits of policy, where elected leaders make their case, and votes are decided after all arguments are heard, and not before.

We are now 30 days until voting starts in one of the most important elections of my lifetime. This election isn’t important because the pundits on TV say so. This election isn’t a referendum on the President or any political party. It’s a referendum to make sure that folks have access to affordable local healthcare. It’s a referendum to preserve the social security and medicare benefits that we all have worked hard to earn. It’s a referendum to make sure our teachers and workers are paid fairly and that we have an economy that ensures people who work hard and play by the rules can get ahead.

It’s a referendum on sending people to Washington who share the values and real-life priorities of their constituents.  We need to send people to Washington who are willing to have tough conversations of compromise, instead of partisan ideologues.

Scott DesJarlais has had eight years in Washington. Thus far, he has done nothing but create more division and chaos, and block Congress from doing anything for the people he represents.

We can get back to government that works as it should, but only if we change the type of person we send to lead us. In Congress, I will go into every debate with an open mind, looking for the best policies to help the people of the 4th district. The Constitution was written to ensure that citizens get good representation, not to be the reason they don’t.

On November 6th, we will send a message that compromise and bipartisanship are not only what the people of Tennessee want, but it’s what the constitution requires. I will listen to every voice in every corner of this district. From Spring Hill to Spring City, Fayetteville to McMinnville –  I will hold town halls, I will hold roundtables, I will take every opportunity I can to listen to the needs of my constituents and work tirelessly to get things done for them in Washington.

As a Mom and a teacher who has worked two jobs to support my family, I’ve always taken my responsibilities seriously, and followed through on my commitments. When I take that oath to to support and defend our Constitution, I will never take it for granted.

Thank you.