LEXINGTON -- Ten hours.

That's how long Kentucky coal miners suffering from black lung disease rode on a bus to see Sen. Mitch McConnell in Washington D.C. to talk about how to save their disability benefits.

When they arrived, they got only one minute from their senator and left with no answers on how they will cover their medical expenses back home.

What is wrong with this story is what is wrong with our system in Washington.

Hard-working Americans -- those who drive our economy and are the backbone of our country -- are not important enough to the D.C. establishment. They get a minute, while special interests and high-end lobbyists get meetings and invites to the senator's office.

When I served in the Marines, I learned the values of honor, courage and commitment. I served 20 years, and flew 89 combat missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, fighting to defend our democracy.

Now I'm fighting against what's going on in Washington.

Working Americans, like our coal miners, are being left behind, ignored by the D.C. politicians who care more about their political power and serving the special interests than doing what's right for our country.

It shouldn't be like this.

Our founding fathers never envisioned career politicians sitting for decades in Congress and creating a swamp of dysfunction, where big money and corporations control our elected representatives.

What these politicians have forgotten is that we elected them, and they're supposed to answer to us. And when we travel 10 hours to see them, they better stay and listen.

For us to be heard, we need to have a new generation of leaders, not senators who've been there 34 years and created the swamp we all despise.

It's time to take a stand and ask members of Congress, which side are you on?

Are you on the side of the coal miner who's given 30 years of his or her life to Kentucky and their family or are you on the side of the out-of-state coal company CEOs?

Are you on the side of families who work two jobs to pay thousands of dollars for health care and prescription drugs or are you on the side of big pharma and insurance company lobbyists?

I'm in this fight because I believe we need to have the courage to make change at the highest level.

We need to say enough is enough and throw out the career politicians and their self-serving agendas.

It's not going to be easy.

The special interests and D.C. establishment would like nothing more than to keep the status quo.

But I didn't back down in combat as a Marine, and I won't back down now because our commonwealth and our country deserve better.

Amy McGrath is a Kentucky Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate in 2020.

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