Saturday, May 14, 2022

Why I support Malcom Kenyatta for US Senate


If everyone who thought Malcolm Kenyatta was the best candidate voted for him, he would have a very good chance of winning. Although Malcolm may not win, I think he will do far better than expected. I would like to see his campaign do well as an investment in the future. He is foregrounding issues of racial/gender/economic justice, and a strong showing for Malcolm will mean a strong showing for those issues and demonstrate that people of color can do well in an increasingly diverse state like PA.

I’ve decided to vote not on grounds of presumed electability, but for the person I would most like to see in the Senate.

The three major candidates currently agree on many issues such as abortion rights; however, there are differences in emphasis . Also, some of Conor Lamb’s progressive positions are relatively recent, which raises questions about his core beliefs. Organizations such as Pro Publica, Roll Call and Intercept have documented : the evolution of his positions.

John Fetterman’s positions for the most part have been held consistently over a longer period; however, his personal behavior has at times been troubling —e.g his pursuit of an unarmed African-American with a shotgun. Granted, this was a one-time occurrence, not a troubling pattern of behavior, but it is cause for concern.

Malcolm has the strongest and most consistent record on a range of progressive issues and perhaps differs most dramatically on environmental issues.

Kenyatta supports a moratorium on new fracking sites and an end to tax breaks for producers in the Commonwealth. Fetterman and Lamb, both of whom are from the western part of the state, oppose any ban.

We know the candidates’ positions on issues currently on voters’ minds. We don’t know how they will respond to issues before the Senate in the years to come. All we have to go on is what they have stood for in the past and what life experiences they bring to the public policy debate. Malcolm will bring the perspective and experiences of an African-American gay man from a working class background—a perspective sorely needed in the Senate.

It is worth looking at what groups and individuals have endorsed in this race.

There is a progressive movement building around Malcolm, including unions generally thought of as progressive such as : SEIU Pennsylvania State Council; American Federation of Teachers; Philadelphia Federation of Teachers; AFT Pennsylvania, AFT Local 2026, Community College of Philadelphia; AFSCME Local 1199C; AFSCME District Council 33; Temple Association of University Professors; Teamsters Local 623; and Teamsters BMWED.

And progressive organizations such as: Americans for Democratic Action; Collective PAC; One Pennsylvania; Working Families Party; Democracy for America; Victory Fund; Brand New Congress; the Chester City Democratic Party; Chester County Young Democrats; Philadelphia 1st Ward Democrats; Philadelphia 2nd Ward Democrats; Philadelphia 8th Ward Democrats; Philadelphia 18th Ward Democrats; Philly for Change; the 22nd Ward Open Caucus; Neighborhood Networks; Liberty City LGBTQ+ Democratic Club

Other than Pennsylvania NOW, Conor Lamb has few endorsements from the progressive community. Lamb is courting endorsements from some of the most conservative segments of Philadelphia politics— the Northeast Philly ward leaders.

Conor Lamb presents himself as the kind of centrist candidate who can win in Pa. That may have been true in the past, but Malcolm’ Kenyatta's candidacy challenges that expectation. Malcolm is pushing back against the narrative that he cannot win: ““I don’t think people have to look like me or love like me to know that I’m going to fight for them… I think that the perspective that I bring is critical not just to have ornamental diversity, it is about policy.” He told the Inquirer: “I reject this idea that Pennsylvania is so bigoted they would never vote for me.”

Finally, we need political leaders who will inspire voters—especially young voters-- to re-invigorate our hollow democracy. We need political leaders who will educate voters about how our system of government works and about the tools they will need to make government work for everyone. The candidate best equipped to do this is clearly Malcolm Kenyatta.

No comments:

Post a Comment