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Teddy Fikre: Why you should vote for me on Nov. 8, 2022

Independent congressional candidate Teddy Fikre (courtesy photo)

Earlier this week, we invited the candidates running in Tuesday’s general election to write a post about why our readers should vote for them. Find information here on how and where to vote in Arlington on Nov. 8.

Below is the unedited response from the independent candidate for Virginia’s 8th Congressional District, Teddy Fikre.

Hello fellow residents of the 8th Congressional District, for many of you, most likely, this is the first time you have been made aware of my campaign and heard of my name. That is to be expected as I’ve been running a campaign that is far from conventional. Whereas the typical political playbook demands raising fortunes in order to blanket the airwaves and roadways with ads and inundate mailboxes with flyers, I made a decision to try something different when I was contemplating running for Congress.

After witnessing one politician after another promising to deliver change only to become part and parcel of the very status quo they ran against, I realized that the only way we can restore representative government in DC is by running an authentically organic campaign as an independent and not taking a penny from corporations and special interests. I did this so I could focus my campaign on overcoming social and political divides instead of pitting people against each other the way both political parties have and continue to do.

Though there are many issues facing our country and many problems we need to confront, there are two concerns in particular that compelled me to run for Congress and are the basis of my campaign. The first issue is the state of our economy and the way wealth is being transferred to a fraction of society while poverty is being socialized for the rest of us. Martin Luther King Jr once noted that social justice is not possible without economic justice; this is an immutable fact because the root cause of many social ills can be traced to the pervasive poverty or financial uncertainty that are the realities facing most Americans.

While we are conditioned to fight over our differences and bash other powerless people, the harsh truth is that 70% of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck and the net savings of the average worker is zero. Almost all of us, irrespective of our skin tone, gender, orientation or belief systems, are but one or two missed paychecks away from calamity. This is precisely what happened to me in 2015 as I went from being a high-priced consultant to homelessness.

As hard as that two-and-a-half-year journey through homelessness was, in hindsight, I am grateful for the hardships I endured. Before experiencing a life of destitution and despair, I viewed life through the lens of partisanship and fought for justice through the prism of tribe. Living in shelters and witnessing a sea of humanity broken by hopelessness and penury taught me this valuable and undeniable lesson: pain transcends all our political and social differences.

This gets to the second and even more important reason why I decided to run for Congress. The number one issue facing us is the way we have become so polarized as a country. As long as we remain divided, we will never be able to galvanize a critical mass of people needed to compel change that will benefit all. While it is critical to acknowledge historical injustices and address inequalities that are impacting the lives of so many, we must do so without reverting to collective judgement and assigning blame to others who are struggling to make ends meet.

Far from turning us away from divisive rhetoric and antagonism that is Balkanizing society, Democrats and Republicans in DC are leading us towards more factionalism and antipathy. That is because the bedrock of our politics and the calling card of both parties is the toxic tribalism of “us versus them” that has replaced our common purpose and eroded our common humanity in the process.

I am running as an independent for this very reason, we cannot depend on politicians who are thriving through our disunion to bring us together. It is time for authentic change in DC. As a full-time IT Project Manager who drives Uber part-time to make ends meet, I ask for your vote so that we can have a representative in DC who doesn’t have to feel your pain because I live your reality.

Editor’s note: Candidates for local races are invited in advance to submit candidate essays, via contact information ARLnow has on file or publicly-listed contact information on the candidate’s website. Reminders are sent to those who do not submit an essay by the evening before the deadline.

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