Monday, December 09, 2019

Maybe I Was Wrong About Nabilah Islam


Georgia's 7th congressional district-- small towns and suburbs in Gwinnett and Forsyth counties northeast of Atlanta-- is going to be an election hot house next year. It's been a red district for a long time but is now trending purple. McCain, Romney and Trump all won the district but Trump's margin was the least robust-- 51.1% to 44.8%. Then last year, Stacey Abrams won the district by just over 1,700 votes. A weak, middle-of-the-road Democratic congressional challenger, Carolyn Bourdeaux, did well too-- but not well enough to win the seat. Well, enough, though, to scare Rob Woodall, the Republican incumbent, out of the 2020 race. The open seat is now a top tier target for both parties. Bourdeaux wants to run again-- but the Democratic Party primary is wide open and there are half a dozen candidates. (There are about double that in the GOP primary). So far 5 Democrats and 6 Republicans have raised at least $100,000 each:
Carolyn Bourdeaux (D)- $843,086
Renee Unterman (R)- $805,747 (self funder)
Lynne Homrich (R)- $669,171 (self funder)
Richard McCormick (R)- $510,024 (self funder)
Nabilah Islam (D)- $311,377
Lerah Lee (R)-$302,520
Ben Bullock (R)- $237,109
Mark Gonsalves (R)- $230,215 (self funder)
Zahra S. Karinshak (D)- $208,974
John Eaves (D)- $116,887
Brenda Lopez Romero (D)- $104,383
Blue America backed Marqus Cole, who impressed us as the most progressive in the race. He's since dropped out. Last week, I heard from Nabila Islam again and asked her to make a case from her candidacy here at DWT. This is what she had to say-- and if you like it, you can contribute to her campaign here

No More Republican-Lite
-by Nabilah Islam

A few months back, Howie and I spoke, mostly about my past work experiences as a Hillary Clinton fundraiser, and needless to say, he was not impressed. He wrote me off before allowing me to explain myself and prove that while I’ve worked for more establishment candidates in the past that my politics are far more progressive.

My name is Nabilah Islam, and I am running for Congress in the most competitive U.S. House seat in the country, as a progressive Democrat.

I am the daughter of working-class immigrants from Bangladesh. Both of my parents are survivors of genocide, and my mother is a survivor of famine who grew up in a small village in a tin hut, mud floor home.

My parents came to America for a better economic opportunity. They started in section 8 housing and then rented a small apartment off of Buford Highway, a common starting place for immigrant families in the greater Atlanta area. They eventually moved to my district, where I spent my first birthday.

Growing up, we never had much. My father was a file clerk at the IRS, and my mother flipped burgers at Hardee's for the first five years of my life until she got a job as an order puller at a warehouse. She worked hard to make a living wage, working overtime during the week and weekends to help make ends meet. She picked up boxes and put them on trucks for nearly 14 years. I watched my mother work herself to the bone and she ended up herniating two discs in her back. This injury cost my mother her job. Her worker's comp and unemployment insurance decided they wouldn’t cover the cost of her back procedures, so we sued them. We won. Had we not, we very well could have been part of the two-thirds of families in this country that go bankrupt because of medical debt.

The county I live in and grew up in, which is also 85% of my district, is called Gwinnett. It is the most diverse county in the Southeast and the fourth most diverse county in America. However, growing up, I never saw anyone who looked like me in Office. It was mostly old, white, and Republican. It was the lack of representation that got me involved in working on campaigns. I knew then that if we were not at the table, we were going to be on the menu. Nothing proves that statement more accurate than what is happening here in this community. Gwinnett has the highest number of deportations in the State, we rank 8th out of 159 counties in homelessness, we have the largest incarcerated population in the State and 135,000 people, nearly a quarter of the district do not have healthcare. Growing up in the South, Democrats are indoctrinated early on to believe a specific type is what is electable. That type is usually white and even more often moderate or centrist. The strategy is to play to the middle and hope to get Republicans to vote for you. That’s not a winning strategy. When Republicans go to the voting booth, they vote for the real Republican, not the fake one.

Nevertheless, my career began working for a progressive grassroots candidate who challenged the establishment. He ran for an At-Large Atlanta City Council seat and defeated a 12-year incumbent. It was the first time in over a decade a challenger had won. Like any aspiring political operative, I took the next job. I went on to work for Jason Carter on his Gubernatorial campaign in 2014. We lost. I was offered a job on Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign as her Southern Regional Deputy Finance Director. My upbringing in Southern Democratic politics taught me she was the most electable candidate. We lost.

After Trump was elected, I was distraught, as most of America was, and is, to this day. But, I have been a fighter, and so I was looking for my next fight. I then learned that the Democratic National Committee was looking to build a more diverse staff. I took the job and saw it as an opportunity to rebuild the party from scratch. Long story short, I hated the experience. I was tired of more of the same-- the party treating minority communities like footnotes in their overall strategy.

Then in 2018, we elected the most diverse delegation to Congress ever. People like Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar, and Alexandria Ocasio Cortez showed me it’s ok to be unapologetically myself. To run on policies that effectuate the most change in our communities. The thing is, if we ever want to win in the South, we need to expand the electorate. We will never do that by running on policies that disenfranchise low-income, working-class, and minority communities.

That’s why when I decided I wanted to run to represent my home, it was going to be the right way. I was no longer going to be held hostage by stereotypes of what is electable and what is possible. We have to have political courage. That is why I am running on a bold progressive platform. Incrementalism does not and will not help my community and communities like mine. We are long overdue for real change and we cannot wait any longer.

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At 3:42 PM, Anonymous Hone said...

You go, Nabilah! Your constituents would be extremely lucky to have you. I am impressed by your parents' history. People like your parents are what build America and make it great. My grandparents are here from Lithuania and my grandfather was a house painter his whole life.


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