When I announced my candidacy at 28 years old, I was one of the youngest candidates in state history. I was also the first Black woman candidate for Congress in the state’s 153 year history. And I am the first queer candidate to run for any federal office in my state’s history.
I entered this Congressional race because for far too long people like me – people who are not white, wealthy, cisgender, heterosexual men – have had to deal with representation that does not care about or reflect them. We’ve seen a skyrocketing military budget and cuts in public education. We’ve seen military conflicts that bomb children and families, and cops kill unarmed Black people with no real consequences. We’ve seen a political war on drugs that criminalizes marijuana by the same lawmakers who act mystified in how to address rampant public mass shootings. We’ve seen children in cages, homeless veterans on our streets, massive catastrophes from climate change, and families unable to afford basic health care and treatment. And we have basic conversations with politicians who are more concerned with beating each other than they are about representing their increasingly diverse districts.
I left the Democratic party after the last presidential election cycle because I believed that the tribalism of partisanship was exponentially increasing the decay of our republic. I still hold that belief now, having returned to the party. I believe that the only way we keep the United States from completely devolving into the fascist state its public is rapidly embracing is by offering voters a candidate whose first and only priority, every day, is the people. The social, economic and political change we’ve been mobilizing towards is so close… But I realize that now is not my time leading it.
It is with great sadness and regret that I announce the suspension of my campaign for Nebraska’s 2nd Congressional District.
You will find that in our current political climate we rely on systems continuing to act and react in the same predetermined extremes. I have not ran as conventional guides and establishment leaders have instructed me to. I have ran as my advocacy background and as my conscious has guided me. I chose the path least traveled, in all things, whenever I could — from canvassing in Gretna to trying to minimize and eliminate paper waste in the efforts of running a environmentally accountable campaign. Yet as many other candidates of color have stated in the past year, I’m not a billionaire or a millionaire or even markedly wealthy. To be frank, I do not have access to the kind of capital necessary to dismantle the systems I’m challenging.
To my supporters, my gratitude is soul deep. This was an incredible journey, and I am so honored to have walked it with you. I am so sorry that I cannot continue here, but I hope you will help me make sure the momentum continues. I’ll be reaching out to each and every one of you soon, to say thank you.
To my fellow activists, in order to do the large-scale social change work we mobilize for, to make it both meaningful and lasting, we need more of us in office. To my fellow political wonks, no, the system is not changing fast enough. And yes, you are the problem. The white progressive will not save you, no matter how desperately want it to be so.
One day, I hope that my campaign serves as inspiration for a radical believer in life, liberty and the American dream to become the change we desperately need in Congress.
I’m not arrogant enough to believe that I have the answers to a broken political system that bargains basic humanity against blind nationalism. I’m also not naive enough to believe that the current participants within this system will choose the American people over individual ambition. The two party system does not allow mediation between the two extremes: when doubling down on white saviorism and crony socialism, the other on white nationalism and fascist modern crusades. I’ve been lucky enough to meet thousands of Nebraskans, and most of them – almost all, in fact – believe in protecting our civil rights and liberties while also creating solutions that make our government financially responsible in its efforts to rectify systematic injustices.
I’m ashamed of both parties, and infuriated that the American people are subjected to these two extremes every election cycle that focus more on talking points than their constituent’s day-to-day realities.
So many of the changes that we desperately need have to come from the federal government, but our current representative is more interested in protecting an individual rather than protecting our nation. Sometime after President Obama left office, Don Bacon forgot that his duty was to the nation and explicitly, his voters, not to an individual president. In voting for a budget bill that continues to expand our national deficit to record numbers, and supporting federal funding for a border wall whose funds obligingly would have been more efficiently spent in supporting the current cyber terrorism efforts from all threats, foreign and domestic, and ignoring the obvious coercion of a foreign government to influence national actions, not once but twice, this representative has shown himself to be more interested in partisanship than servant leadership. As a taxpayer, who funds his $147,000 salary every year (with benefits), I want my money back.
I ran for office because I didn’t see a better option. I still don’t believe that we have the option that we deserve as an American people and as Nebraskans. But I believe that if we hold the current candidates, elected officials, and parties accountable, one day, we just might.
And as Kamala Harris stated in her statement, I’m not going anywhere. I’m going to continue to get people to the polls to vote, to demand better representation, to demand accountability and transparency and authenticity from their elected officials.
I’m leaving this race, but I’m not leaving this fight. And I can’t wait to fight with you everyday in 2020, and after.