Candidate Statement

Shahid Buttar, Candidate, U.S. House, CA-12 (D)

I’m running to represent San Francisco in Congress because the future can’t survive the predation of the past. The same voices in Congress who have engineered our current crises are not likely to generate effective solutions. We need new voices representing communities that have been excluded from the halls of government for too long.

Many have come to fear fascism in the United States, particularly over the course of the last year under a criminal President aspiring to be a fascist tyrant.

That concern is not new to me. It has animated my activism, grassroots organizing, professional advocacy, and nonprofit leadership for 20 years.

It was ultimately Pelosi’s long record of enabling human rights abuses that forced me to enter politics. I’ve spent much of my legal career in Washington, where I saw Nancy Pelosi‘s work up close. While I worked both in the grassroots and in the policy sphere to defend San Francisco’s values in the face of her misrepresentation, she consistently advanced the interests of Wall Street and three-letter “national security” agencies.

I’ve seen Pelosi cover up CIA torture, fund CBP concentration camps at our nation’s borders, and revive expired NSA & FBI spying powers from the legislative dead to empower our racist-in-chief—even while falsely claiming to mount “resistance” to him. None of these were acts of so-called “resistance.” Every one—as well as her legislative record more generally—reveals the picture of an agent of the establishment who claims progressive values while only rarely supporting them in fact.

As a Muslim immigrant and constitutional lawyer, I’ve been a canary in the constitutional coal mine of the United States. I’ve warned for two decades as our rights, liberties, and democratic transparency have eroded in the face of a continuing bipartisan assault.

My work promoting San Francisco’s values has taken many forms. In 2003, shortly after graduating from Stanford Law School, I started an weekly outdoor convergence among politicized poets and musicians in the Mission that has continued for 17 years. A few months earlier, I mobilized a network of Stanford students to participate in a nonviolent siege of the financial district along with 20,000 other Bay area residents the morning after Bush invaded Iraq.

I’ve also fought for our city’s values well beyond its borders.

In 2004, I represented the second mayor in the country (Jason West from New Paltz, NY) to support the right of LGBTQ couples to marry. As a Muslim man raised in the midwest, I was fighting for LGBT rights in the courts nearly a decade before Nancy Pelosi—with all the privilege & power of the Speaker of the House—deigned to even publicly recognize the equal rights of my gay neighbors at the federal level.

In addition to helping establish marriage equality, my work defending privacy and dissent has also had national significance.

I advocated for the law that in 2019 made San Francisco the first city in the country to ban face surveillance technology in the hands of government agencies. I previously wrote provisions of other groundbreaking local civil rights laws adopted in jurisdictions across the country, from Berkeley (in 2011) to Providence, Rhode Island (in 2017).

As a Muslim candidate challenging an entrenched, powerful incumbent, I’ve been subjected to attacks in the press and local political organizations leveraging implicit biases and racial tropes.

The white supremacy enabled by the local political establishment has been profoundly disappointing. I remain confident, however, that San Francisco is willing to judge candidates on the basis of our actions and character, rather than contrived accusations spread by politically motivated critics.

The past year has made the case for our platform more poignantly than any campaign ever could.

Predatory, for-profit corporate “healthcare” was both brutal and vicious before the coronavirus pandemic. In the face of a global viral contagion, allowing cost to remain a barrier to care is senselessly idiotic. That policy choice has already driven thousands of Americans to early graves.

Meanwhile, the dedication of corporate Democrats to fossil fuel extraction threatens to kick billions of people off a climate cliff. Because they are either too young to vote, or because they live elsewhere, they’re unable to participate in this election—even though it could prove crucial to determine the contours of their future.

It’s that future to which I’m dedicated.

It’s that future which has animated my work over the past 20 years.

And it’s that future that I’ll aim to protect—on behalf of our city and future generations—when I represent San Francisco in the House of Representatives.