Today, I would like to make my official announcement of my intention to seek election to the North Carolina House of Representatives in the 2020 Election, for District 56. This comprises the areas of Chapel Hill (home of the famed University of North Carolina) and Carrboro, in Orange County, making it arguably the most progressive area not only in the state but in the entire South. I first came to the area in 2010, as a student at the university. I returned not long after my graduation and have made Chapel Hill my home. I did not intend to run when I moved here, but the current state of NC politics compels me, nevertheless, to try.
With a new decade approaching and the possibility of fair districts for our state legislature, we must do what we can to ensure that the Democratic Party is leading on a bold agenda of progressive reform, should it win control of the state government. As it currently stands, I do not believe that the current character of the party makes this something we could expect, so we must guide it in that direction by making sure that a progressive district has progressive representation.
What do I mean when I say I am a progressive Democrat? I mean to say that I am a New Deal Democrat, in the mold of Franklin D. Roosevelt. I believe in the rights of workers. I believe that we need to repeal restrictions against labor unions in this state and increase the minimum wage to a living wage, indexed to inflation. I believe that income inequality has become too high and threatens our long-term, economic prospects. I believe that money should not influence what policies our leaders set; the people alone should influence that. I believe we should modernize our infrastructure, thereby creating employment for many and facilitating natural commerce. I believe college-level education should be tuition free and actually provide viable careers, not the debt racket of underemployment that it has become for Generations Y and Z. I believe that our lower education should be properly funded and that we should adequately compensate our teachers for the crucial service they provide to our children.
In short, I believe that a democratically elected government can and should ensure the general welfare of its citizens, who all, to some extent, contribute to the nation’s growth, prosperity, and success.
My primary concern is that we scarcely hear leaders in the Democratic party speak to these real issues that affect North Carolinians of all backgrounds and walks of life. With just under 10 million people living here, there are many livelihoods at stake with each election cycle. Regrettably, we see too much obsession with the evils of President Trump and Phil Berger and too little ambition about what we will deliver to those millions of people. Instead of pointing fingers, I think Democrats should be extending a hand of camaraderie and fellowship.
In addition to bringing the party back to its roots under FDR’s leadership, we must break the cycle of bitter partisanship that has taken over the country. I want Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives, to be able to talk to one another again. I want us to have the solidarity to come together in times of crisis and not be mowed over. I want us just to able to go outside and enjoy our lives and be honest with our friends, without fear of being labeled as alt-right or a Marxist. I want us to be more curious and open to each other. I want us to break out of the echo chambers and have a common reality again. The current politics of our nation is not the only thing that needs to change; the culture of politics needs to change as well.
I intend to be the leadership that will make this vision a reality here in North Carolina. We have many progressive contenders in the 2020 Presidential primary, to include Bernie Sanders, Tulsi Gabbard, Elizabeth Warren, and Andrew Yang. We should aim to support the same programs they support, to create a new New Deal, and where they may not find success at the federal level, we must work to deliver it at the state level.
Whether you live in my district, my state, or somewhere else in the country, I ask for you to support me in our greater mission of progressive reform. With my many years of activity in the Democratic Party, I can say that the only thing holding us back is lack of participation.
We have the numbers. Will you join me and rise to the occasion?