Dear Editor Sally Buzbee and the Washington Post Staff,
I am an independent candidate running to represent Virginia’s 8th Congressional District. As a first-generation immigrant from Ethiopia, I know first-hand the important role a truly free-press plays in defending freedoms and preserving the rule of law. My family and I fled my birth land because fascism disguised in the cloak of security and the greater good ended up unleashing a genocide that claimed the lives of over 500,000 Ethiopians a couple of years after I was born in 1974.
You possess an awesome responsibility in your hands, you can tip the balance of power and dictate the public discourse with what you choose to publish or omit from your narratives. It is precisely for this reason that I am writing to you today in order to request equal access given the copious times you have featured my opponent, Representative Don Beyers. As you well know, you have a duty to your readers and Americans writ large to ensure that the issues and concerns of voters are debated vigorously without playing favors to candidates.
Sunday’s edition of your publication featured an article by reporter Meagan Flynn about incumbent Representative Don Beyer and the challenge he is facing from Victoria Virasingh in the Democratic primary. Far from a news story that aims to keep our elected officials accountable, the write-up read more like a gushing endorsement of Beyer that lacked any substantive differentiation between the two candidates.
As troubling as it is to present what is tantamount to a paid infomercial as news, my greater concern is that you are using your nearly unmatched influence and the ability that you have to bend public perception to ratify partisan politicians while denying independent candidates the means to reach a broader audience. Close to 50% of the electorate identify as Independent, focusing on Democrats and/or Republicans only while relegating candidates who speak to and for the largest voting bloc in America to the sidelines is akin to a poll tax on voters and the candidates who represent their interests.
It’s hard enough running for office as a non-affiliated contestant in elections, we have countless hurdles to overcome from financial disadvantages, lack of name recognition and not having access to political machines to back our campaigns. Beyond that, the very process of running for office is laden with challenges, so much so that most Americans won’t dream of partaking in what the founders envisioned for our country—self-governance based on representation. A government of, for and by the people is made impossible when only the richest and most politically connected have a chance to compete in elections.
Democracies die in the dark when false-choices are presented as options. That is precisely what is happening every election as the two major political parties monopolize ballots and prevent any real competition from materializing. Even though the vast majority of Americans of all social and political stripes are desperate for change, the status quo is maintained because independent voices are being silenced by dark money and media indifference. By your editorial decisions to highlight the known and neglect un-affiliated candidates, you are actively marginalizing the very communities you pretend to champion.
In the age of Black Lives Matter, it is easy to slap a hashtag on a car or a front lawn and present a veneer of progress. This much is true, slogans lacking action are pablum, our voices must matter too. We are being sold a bill of goods by both parties as they elevate token faces to project inclusion to the world while the very communities they belong to are being shackled by generational poverty that traces its roots back to America’s “original sin”. Diversity in country clubs, board rooms and in the halls of power are meaningless are those benefits are not being shared by the proletariat.
However, this is beyond race as the issues I am running on matter to all Americans irrespective of our differences. My platform is based on empowering workers and entrepreneurs and protecting both from the overdue influence that multinational corporations have on our government and society as a whole. The American dream has been transmuted into the American hustle as more and more workers are being forced to work multiple jobs to keep up with inflation. Instead of paying attention to these urgent matters that are gashing all, both political parties are inciting emotions to pit Americans against one another.
I am running for Congress to focus on economic disparities and financial anxieties which are the issues that are hitting home to all except the wealthiest few who don’t have to worry about the runaway cost of living. Consequently, I am requesting equal access so that the policy positions that I am advancing and my campaign platform have a chance to be heard, vetted and adjudicated by voters in my district. I would like to write an Op/Ed at the Washington Post and I further invite you to find out more about my campaign by going to www.Fikre4VA.com.
We face an inflection point as a nation, this election season can either move us toward reconciliation or can lead us towards social strife, it is vital that all candidates are heard so that Americans can regain trust in our government. I hope you consider the merit of this open letter and move towards inclusion in your coverage of candidates instead of giving preferential treatment to some and denying the rest of us who do not have the privileges enjoyed by my opponent.
As I write this open letter to the Washington Post, I am also presenting this missive to all journalists, reporters, pundits and everyone who works in the news industry. We stand at a perilous time where developments that were once unthinkable are within the realm of possibility. Let us tamp down our egos, stop chasing validation through social media and act like adults. Instead of stoking rage and manipulating the legitimate grievances of people who are hurting, let us work towards a solution that will benefit all without bias to identity or ideology.
The same way I am challenging the Washington Post to do better and live up to the tenets of a truly free press, I likewise ask my fellow Americans to rise to the moment and walk away from our divisions that are being foisted upon us. We can be a party to our continued fleecing or we can finally walk away from both parties and abandon the tribal politics. I pray, for our sake and the future of our children, that we choose unity instead of being led by antipathy. May God bless these United States and God bless all of humanity.