Fikre for Virginia: I’m Running for Congress Not as a Privileged Politician but as a Worker Who Experiences Your Struggles

I thought about running for Congress ten years ago. I had it all planned out in my mind. Disappointed after witnessing Obama’s overpromises turn into under-deliveries but not yet ready to leave the party I joined when I became a citizen in 1996, I thought the party could be salvaged if we could just elect enough new voices. I had planned on running as an insurgent Democrat in order to fight for the issues I deeply cared about and to stand up for justice in a world overrun with suffering and inequalities.

Even back then, when life’s hard lessons had yet to teach me about the commonality of humanity’s pains, I longed for a movement that would unite us instead of dividing us based on differences. That is why Obama captivated my imagination in 2004 when he spoke against the red state vs blue state Balkanization of America. Finally, I thought, here was a man who could heal America’s wounds and move us towards a new day of inclusion and equity. Where he stalled, I was intent on working to fulfill the aspirations he articulated at the DNC convention in 2004 by throwing my hat in the ring and hoping to get elected as the first Ethiopian-American Congressman.

The path to victory seemed so certain that a big-time former Obama field organizer was excited to join me in an attempt to inject new blood and new ideas in a party that had lost its soul thanks to corporate graft and billionaire bribes that are rebranded as “campaign contributions”. The incumbent back then was a powerful Congressman by the name of Jim Moran, though he was rarely challenged in the Democratic primaries thanks to the outsized influence he had in the 8th Congressional District, I was confident I could stitch together a coalition that could overcome his institutional advantages.

I only had one problem—I did not believe in myself. I was too used to being the cheerleader for others and pushing anyone I encountered to do better to actually apply the “you can accomplish anything” pep talk to myself. Even though I am essentially a son of Virginia given that I called the Old Dominion my home ever since I arrived in America at the age of seven and I’m a byproduct of Alexandria, Fairfax and Prince William education and I was highly successful by all objective standards, I could not get beyond the paralysis of analysis imbued by doubt that is the hallmark of empaths.

Without knowing it, I fell for the trap that keeps the status quo unchanged. Essentially, our system of governance is based on driving out people with good intentions and elevating narcissists who are willing to step over anyone in order to reach their goals. In many ways, my disbelief in myself is a microcosm of our society writ large. Instead of trying even if that meant failing spectacularly, I short-changed myself because I ultimately thought that I would get eviscerated by the establishment only to end up losing to a millionaire politician.

Sadly, my doubt and lack of faith in myself was not an outlier but the norm for way too many of us who value the rich and famous and discount our fellow men and women who share a common walk even if our journeys might differ. Time and time again we discount talented individuals who live among us only to praise them to the heavens once they are “discovered” by the “elites”. Langston Hughes was a brilliant poet and writer long before he was plucked out of obscurity by two influential patrons who read his reflections on a paper napkin at a restaurant he was a busboy at.

There are leagues of Langstons who toil in the shadows right under our noses, but we are too busy looking to the stars to notice the supernovas who are our brothers, sisters and neighbors.  The same guitarist who plucks away unnoticed would become a sought-after commodity if only he performed at Kennedy Center instead of playing on concrete blocks. Think about it for a moment, how many uber-gifted painters, singers, dancers, writers and entrepreneurs do you know whom you have said “if only more people knew about him or her”.

Therein is the conundrum! In the age of social media where we have the power to turn the unknown into a cultural phenomenon, all too often we outsource our ability to deliver change to millionaire gatekeepers who are bought and paid for by billionaire tycoons. We gaze at the navel of the neo-aristocracy and avert our eyes from “average” Joes and Janes because we don’t want to be reminded of our reality. It is better to pretend that we too can be rich instead of being reminded on a daily basis of our proximity to financial insolvency.

We are gaslighted from the time we are old enough to speak until we take our last breath to believe we can consume ourselves to happiness and that joy will be attained through the accumulation of trinkets. This is why we have a love affair with the gentry and why too many despise the poor; we have been conditioned to believe that wealth and possessions are akin to success. This is also why we keep electing millionaires and billionaires praying the Bushes, Obamas, Trumps and Bidens of the world become our Moses when in reality they are pharaohs meant to mislead us.

It took a tsunami of tribulations that arrived at my door and replaced what I cherished with conflict for me to realize that I must value myself as much as I value others. What could have broken me actually edified me and swept away the insecurities that had me in bondage for decades. Freed from the prison of people-pleasing and released from the fears of abandonment, I started to heal in the very places that I’ve been hurting since I experienced traumatic events as growing up.

Armed with the confidence of self-love while retaining the idealism that compels me to help others, I decided to revisit the contemplation I had ten years ago. A thought came upon me one day while I was working out, “why not me”. Doubt immediately set in but this time I dispelled them one by one as I prayed for clarity over the past month and a half.  It dawned upon me day by day that I was my own harshest critic. I expected perfection and anything short of that meant I was a failure, this is the reason I decided to forgo running for Congress in 2012.

The reality is that I am an imperfect man running at the perfect time with a message that I believe will resonate deeply with the vast majority of Americans. First, let me answer the most basic question that voters have a right to ask of me. What qualifications do I have to seek elected office? To which I answer with the following:

  • I have a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communications from George Mason University
  • I attained a Masters of Business Administration from Johns Hopkins University
  • I’ve worked as a Project Manager/Business Consultant for the past 20 years
    • Received multiple commendations from Sprint Government Systems Division over a seven-year tenure including an Award of Excellence for volunteering to work around the clock to restore circuits after our nation was attacked on 9/11
    • Earned numerous praises from Federal government agencies for the support I provided during my eight-year tenure at Booz Allen Hamilton
    • Volunteered countless hours through the auspices of a historically black fraternity called Omega Psi Phi that I joined in 1996
    • Worked tirelessly over the past 14 years to organize the Ethiopian community in ways that spread public awareness about our contributions to America while highlighting pressing issues like economic empowerment, affordable housing, medical availability, education assistance and mental health advocacy in our community and beyond

These are but a few of the benchmarks I’ve achieved since I graduated from college in 1998. I am far from a saint, I have made my fair share of mistakes in my life but by God’s grace, I have learned from each setback. Bad business decisions and my need to save others at my cost led to a bout of homelessness. I emerged on the other side restored financially and determined to speak for tens of millions of Americans who have been relegated to tent cities and sleeping in shelters. My life experiences and the hardships I have overcome will become an asset in a political environment that is filled with rank opportunists and unabashed carpetbaggers.

If I am entrusted with your vote and have the opportunity to serve you as a Congressman, what you will get is someone who knows and experiences your struggles. I understand first-hand about the economic anxieties the vast majority of Americans feel because I am currently working full time as an IT Project Manager while driving Uber on the side to make ends meet. I feel the pinch every time I am forced to pay a toll to access the same roads we paid for with our tax dollars. I pack my lunch in the mornings so I can avoid paying $10 for a sandwich and chips.

These are struggles my opponent will never understand after making a fortune thanks to Obama’s “Consumer and Automotive Recovery Act of 2008” while tens of millions of Americans were having their homes foreclosed upon. I don’t feel your pain, I am living it daily. While the Beltway crowd are forking over hundreds of dollars for caviar and Chablis and lecturing us about conservation as they use up energy that could fuel entire villages in my birth land Ethiopia to light up their homes, the rest of us are being ground into dust. To make up for these injustices, they give us token faces and hashtags lacking substance to represent progress.

I articulated what I hope to achieve if I am elected to Congress, what I will not do is play into the “us versus them” divide. I believe that the bottom 99% of Americans and humanity writ large are being mauled by a truly privileged few who are thriving while the rest of us are being mired either in poverty or economic uncertainties. I refuse to point to others who are struggling like us and blame them for the sins of the past or the iniquities of the present just because they have different complexions or share different ideas than me. Our injuries might vary but pain is the one thing that binds all of humanity, I will serve with this fact serving as my North Star.

I am running as an independent to at once represent the marginalized super-majority of Americans who are being left out in the cold by a politics of voter nullification, capital greed and the hegemonic ambitions of globalist profiteers. Change will never come from the Republican and Democratic parties because both are owned fully by multinational corporations and unaccountable plutocrats. The only hope we have as Americans is to declare our independence from the duopoly; I’m running as an Independent who won’t take a red cent from “publicly owned” corporations to be a part of this desperately needed evolution.

The root cause of suffering in America and beyond is one of economic inequalities, the less people have the more issues like racism, sexism and exclusion will manifest. I am not running for Congress to partake in grievance Olympics and incite people by convincing them they are victims. I am asking you to send me to DC in order to shift the conversation from arguing about who has it worst to working together so that we can all do better. I will not be sidetracked by the latest outrage nor fall for the catnip of media sensationalism, I am going to focus like a laser on economic policies and the way Main Street and our the “bottom 99%” are being indentured by Wall Street and the pyramid scheme wrought by central banking.

After being sold false dreams and counterfeit hopes election cycle after election cycle, I have decided to run for Congress to represent the poor, working and middle-class who are not being heard by our government. #Fikre4VA Click To Tweet

If we are to mend our breaking nation, we will do so as one people or we will witness our country devolve into abyss of strife and bankruptcy thanks to political tribalism that has been inculcated in our minds and a political-media industry that profits from our disunity. America stands at the brink as we near an economic implosion and a societal conflagration that could turn our country into a wasteland of broken dreams and shattered hopes. My parents fled Ethiopia in 1982 and brought us to these shores to escape fascism and genocides, if we don’t course correct and seek comity over hostility, this blessed country will turn into a failed state on our watch.

My moral compass always points towards work tenacity and empathy towards others who are less fortunate. A fundamental principle that I hold is that collaboration is better than competition, we are better off working together than we are competing apart. Just as important is the imperative of fairness; I love America because of her creed that the sky’s the limit for anyone who is willing to invest time and toil to realize their potential. This creed has been erased by a clang of hopelessness for the poor, working and middle-class . I am running for Congress to restore America’s promise and to do my part to heal our broken nation together.

Campaign News: I will be making an official announcement of my candidacy at Bruin Slave Jail in Old Town Alexandria on Tuesday, March 1st at 7:30 PM EST. I chose that location for a reason, if we are to move forward as a nation, we must address the traumas of the past with a spirit of love, understanding and forgiveness. The address is 1707 Duke St, Alexandria, Virginia. You can RSVP by clicking HERE, I hope to see you there as we start a journey to #HealAmericaTogether

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” ~ Martin Luther King Jr.

Stand with M

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