Rep. Rashida Tlaib & Linda Sarsour address a rally promoting the impeachment of President Trump—which House Speaker Nancy Pelosi resigned by refusing to support charges based on Trump’s corruption.

Why I’m replacing Nancy Pelosi as San Francisco’s voice in the House

The future can’t defend itself. That’s why I’ve dedicated myself to defending it from the past.

Many Americans have grown “woke” in the face of the fascism apparent since Trump’s 2016 election. As an immigrant wielding a background in constitutional law, the rise of fascism in the U.S. has been painfully obvious to me for two decades.

Seeing through the illusion

I grew up in rural Missouri, where my Muslim family migrated from London in the mid 1970s. I came of age on the South Side of Chicago while working to pay my way through college, before studying & teaching law at Stanford, and then going on to lead a national non-profit organization in Washington dedicated to ending mass surveillance and protecting dissent.

My experiences reflect both the American dream, as well as the American nightmare.

My father worked around the clock, and did well as a real estate broker. When I was 10 years old, we moved from Rosebud, MO — a town of 300 people with no stoplights or schools — to suburban St. Louis. But we lost our home to foreclosure six years later as I graduated from high school.

Experiencing housing insecurity radicalized me. I give thanks for that time in my life, though I would not wish a similar experience on anyone. My friends in Chicago thankfully spared me from the most brutal aspects of homelessness — and without my struggles, I would not have the work ethic that has taken me so far since.

But those years on the South Side gave me the opportunity to see our empire from beneath the boot. At points, I struggled to survive.

Over the course of a decade, I went to night school to amass undergraduate credits while working full-time. After moving across the city to live closer to school, I was mugged by police officers a few blocks from my home.

My first memories of political consciousness came as a kindergarten student, in the context of learning about the genocide of Native Americans. The struggles that expanded my worldview also accompanied my studies as an undergraduate student struggling to pay for college.

Fighting a family dynasty

In contrast, Speaker Nancy Pelosi is a powerful anchor of a political dynasty.

She was born with a silver spoon in her mouth, the daughter of a big city mayor on the east coast. Her brother served in Congress. Her daughter serves on the Democratic National Committee. Her nephew is the Governor of California.

Her net worth is well over $100 million. She represents the 1%.

And she does it well.

When the Bush administration invaded Iraq, I marched & took direct action with my neighbors to defend peace & civil liberties. Pelosi instead chose to fund the war & occupation, and built the mass surveillance regime.

She still advances conservative interests today.

Medicare For All is favored by bipartisan majorities and a majority of presidential candidates, but Pelosi opposes it. Pelosi derides solutions to the global climate emergency as “the Green New Dream, or whatever.” She imposes conservative fiscal austerity rules on an otherwise progressive Caucus.

Pelosi represents — and ultimately, imposes — a failed, predatory, corporate paradigm that threatens life on Earth with extinction.

Beyond disdain for climate justice & economic justice, Pelosi has also helped erode human rights.

Pelosi sacrificing human rights

She joined a continuing cover up over CIA torture in 2006. That, in itself, is a crime: international law requires a criminal investigation, and strict liability permitting no defenses or excuses.

We won a World War to establish that principle before Pelosi joined Bush — and Obama — in violating it.

In 2014, a Senate investigation generated a massive report documenting CIA international crimes. But it remains suspiciously classified, rather than public.

Her complicity in torture was neither the last time that Speaker Pelosi undermined human rights, nor was it the first.

This summer, Pelosi gave President Trump $4.6 billion for concentration camps, expanded surveillance, and border militarization. Despite documented atrocities, she secured no human rights protections. Stories of separated families, human rights abuses, and profound neglect continue to mount by the day.

In November, Pelosi forced the extension of the Patriot Act, an authoritarian law so odious that it was repudiated in 2013 by its principal author, Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI).

Her tendency towards authoritarianism is nothing new. Corporate Democrats have long overlooked CIA crimes.

In the 1990s, the CIA admitted that it ran crack cocaine into Miami & Los Angeles to fund its illegal wars in Latin America. While the Iran-Contra scandal revealed part of the Raegan administration’s criminal legacy, the CIA never faced accountability for expanding mass incarceration, killing police officers, and driving police militarization.

Around the same time, the CIA lost control over the mujahideen, freedom fighters it had trained & equipped in Afghanistan to fight the Soviet Union. In the 90s, they rebranded as al-Qaeda and turned their CIA training against the United States. Accountability? Not so much.

Our war in Afghanistan has become our nation’s longest in history. We have spent over $1 trillion, and lost nearly 3,000 lives, for the Washington Post recently reported ultimately no discernible benefit to U.S. national security.

This was described by many Democrats as “the good war.”

Pelosi’s complicity in conservative agendas

Pelosi’s stance on “the bad war” in Iraq resembles her view on climate justice. She now claims to have known that the Bush administration lied about weapons of mass destruction. But if she knew the invasion was based on a lie, why didn’t she do more to stop it?

San Francisco never supported the War in Iraq. Why did our elected voice in Congress?

Pelosi also acknowledges climate science, yet does nothing to act on increasingly dire warnings by scientists. She opposes the Green New Deal. Why ignore facts that she claims to understand?

Pelosi enjoys a well-deserved reputation as a master legislator. But on whose behalf does she legislate?

The answer: corporations, wealthy Americans, and the executive branch. But Pelosi leads an independent branch of government. She’s sworn to check & balance the executive branch, not to empower it.

Pelosi’s complicity in a constitutional crisis

Many casual observers presume that Pelosi has challenged Trump based on the impeachment process. But the failure of the impeachment process was entirely predictable — and avoidable.

Long before Pelosi finally showed up for executive accountability after repeatedly declared her disinterest in impeachment, I published an analysis explaining how to impeach the president. Our nation’s leading authority on constitutional law cited my article as explaining why he shifted his view to favor impeachment.

I emphasized two crucial points. First, impeachment was (and remains) a constitutional imperative notwithstanding political calculations. It is not acceptable for a party to resign accountability (or a particular basis for it) because it is politically inopportune.

Second, conservative voters are particularly outraged by corruption. They could place pressure on GOP Senators if impeachment focused on the president’s misappropriation of public funds.

Pelosi chose another path.

By pursuing an impeachment process limited to a political crime, Pelosi effectively ensured that the Senate would not vote to remove the president from office. Democratic Party leaders claimed that inviting foreign interference in a U.S. election would be the easiest charge to explain to the public. That claim was spectacularly wrong, with disastrous consequences demanding electoral accountability.

Even while pursuing executive accountability, Pelosi continues to enable Trump. She took nearly a year to start an ultimately failed impeachment process, before limiting it to exclude Trump’s worst crimes against the public. She still supports the executive secrecy that enables torture, surveillance, and Trump’s corruption.

Whistleblowers are government employees & contractors who risk their careers to reveal facts hidden by — and sometimes from — their bosses. In most federal agencies, whistleblowers enjoy rights to prevent retaliation by supervisors who share an interest in silencing them.

Those legal protections, however, do not extend to intelligence agencies, such as CIA, NSA, FBI, ICE, or any of several DHS agencies with duplicative and wasteful intelligence offices. Intelligence agencies, uniquely, have the authority to silence dissident employees.

Nancy Pelosi supported this discrimination. She further enables secrecy by imposing a separate set of conservative House rules that senselessly deny most Members of Congress access to classified documents. As a result, only Pelosi’s hand-picked deputies can challenge officials’ lies about, for instance, NSA mass surveillance, or CIA torture, or the potential U.S. role in right wing coups in Brazil, Bolivia, and Venezuela in the last year alone.

A new voice for San Francisco

Many Americans share concerns that our future looks bleak. I’m running to replace Pelosi to help meet the needs of that future.

That includes expanding human rights to include healthcare, housing, and food. I know what it’s like for basic needs to be scarce.

I’m also running to defend our democracy from a bipartisan assault. A thief in the White House is bad enough. “Opposition” leaders who ultimately enable our criminal president are no better.

Our democracy is precious. I am not willing to stand by while career politicians like Nancy Pelosi continue to undermine it.

Over ten thousand Americans from coast-to-coast are supporting our campaign to liberate San Francisco’s voice in Congress. I look forward to representing them, and my neighbors in America’s most progressive city.