Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Rashida Tlaib-- Not Another Garden Variety Democrat... A Leader


A couple of days ago, Michael Keegan, president of People for the American Way, invited me to meet a candidate for the open John Conyers seat in Michigan, Rashida Tlaib. The West Detroit district that goes all the way through Dearborn Heights, Inkster and Romulus to the airport, is one of the bluest in America-- with a PVI of D+33. Obama won it with 85% both times he ran and even Hillary managed to get 79% of the vote. A predominantly African-American district with a growing Hispanic population, it is less than 20% white. The Republicans aren't bothering to run a candidate and the most important election is the August 7 primary. Conyers' son was disqualified and two people withdrew, which leaves half a dozen Democrats, including a Conyers nephew, as well Detroit City Council president Brenda Jones, Westland Mayor Bill Wild and Rashida. If she wins she'll be one of the most forceful and significant voices in Congress, that I can guarantee you-- another Ted Lieu or Pramila Jayapal.

What I took away from watching her in action, reading her record in the state legislature and two chats, I could see that she's guided by the belief that everyone, not just the wealthy and privileged, deserves access to opportunity and a better quality of life. She's dedicated her life to amplifying and addressing the concerns of working families and average folks in Detroit and Wayne County, across Michigan, and around the country. Rashida has run some of the most aggressive and visionary campaigns Detroit has ever seen and made history as the first Muslim woman ever elected to the Michigan Legislature-- the second Muslim woman to serve in any state legislature. If she wins this race she'll also be the first Muslim woman to reelected to Congress.

She's well-known as a progressive warrior and has taken on billionaires and multinational corporations for Detroit residents... and won! In 2013, then-State Rep. Rashida Tlaib stopped Marathon Oil and the Koch brothers from storing massive, open piles of poisonous petroleum coke byproduct (“petcoke”) on the banks of the Detroit River. She even went so far as to collect her own samples and conduct her own independent lab testing to force the Republican-controlled Michigan Department of Environmental Quality to recognize the threat this posed to the health of her residents. Maybe you remember seeing Rashida’s interview with Rachel Maddow on the issue.

And when reclusive Detroit billionaire Manuel Moroun illegally seized a city park occupying land he coveted for a second toll-bridge to Canada, Rashida fought back. In liberating the park, she became a target of the notoriously vindictive Mouroun, who funded a recall campaign against her and continues to fund her political opponents. Rashida has defeated all of them, too.

Beyond her impressive list of victories for her residents, Rashida is lauded for the transformative constituent services that she provides.She knows that public service is about more than voting for legislation. When taking office as a State Representative in 2008, Rashida learned that all legislators were barred from using State resources to open a district office. Undeterred, she raised over $40,000 in private funding to open the very first Neighborhood Service Center-- an incredibly important tool for connecting her residents to the resources of State government. In Lansing she sponsored legislation to stop dishonest tax-prep companies from taking advantage of low-income consumers. At her Neighborhood Service Center, she could help those same residents get over $1 million in tax refunds by providing free tax preparation services. That’s life changing representation.

Rashida has carried on her work as a warrior for social justice after her time in the legislature, working as a public interest lawyer at the Sugar Law Center for Economic and Social Justice leading efforts to create meaningful community benefits requirements on taxpayer subsidized development deals, as well as leading a regional Take On Hate civil rights campaign. Rashida’s record prioritizes people over profits and firmly establishes her as a leader who will fight back in a political climate all too willing to pander to the elite and powerful. In fact, she was one of the first to stand up to Donald Trump’s racist rhetoric and policies-- infiltrating, protesting, and being forcibly removed from his appearance at the Detroit Economic Club in August 2016, months before the election.

It's become apparent to me that people in Metro Detroit have abs opportunity to elect someone work tirelessly to make their lives better in tangible ways, whether by policy or by action, and this commitment to rolling up her sleeves and going to work for her community. It's what sets Rashida apart. She offered a guest post, Why I'm Running.
I’ve served as a State Representative in Lansing and I’ve been a people’s lawyer at the Sugar Law.

I think it’s time for a Congresswoman who’ll fight for us in the streets, in the courts, and in Congress, and who people can count on to fight for them and never sell them out.

We need someone who will stand up to the billionaires and corporations taking advantage of our communities and hijacking our government. I took on the Koch brothers and won, forcing their toxic petcoke off our river. I fought back against Matty Moroun and won, moving his polluting trucks off our neighborhood streets. I protested the Trump rally at the Detroit Economic Club and got thrown out for asking him to “read the Constitution” before other Democrats were taking him seriously. I pushed back when Quicken Loans and Little Caesars asked for huge tax breaks that take money from our schools, even as local government celebrated the corporate handouts.

I’m running because I get results. I brought home $5.6 million in funding for before-and-after school programs and $7.8 million for bilingual education and literacy. I brought home $1 million for free health care clinics and $2 million to remove toxic lead paint from older homes. And I did it with Republicans in control of the Legislature, because I don’t make excuses, I get it done.

  Goal ThermometerIn Washington I’ll fight back against the Trump agenda that puts corporate profits and serving the rich over the needs of the rest of us. I’ll fight alongside you for Medicare-for-All so everyone can receive the healthcare they need, and for a $15 minimum wage that helps workers provide for their families. Together we’ll hold polluters accountable and resist Trump’s attacks on our communities. On top of that, I’ll operate a local service center that changes your ideas of what a representative should be. I can’t wait to get to work for you.
She'll vote right, but that isn't the main reason to back her. I recognized a strong, effective progressive leader in her-- another person who can make a real difference in a largely dysfunctional Congress-- another Alan Grayson or Ro Khanna, Ted Lieu, Pramila Jayapal, Raul Grijalva or even a Nancy Pelosi of long, long ago. If you'd like to contribute to her very grassroots campaign you can do it by clicking on the 2018 congressional thermometer on the right.

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At 10:17 AM, Blogger edmondo said...

If she wins she'll be one another Ted Lieu

So she will be co-opted by Nancy Pelosi and make sure only corporatists get any money from the DCCC? Great! Sign me up ... for the Green Party.

At 5:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Waiting for the reports of DCCC stilettos sticking out of her back.


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