As a Black voter, I am fed up with the status quo. The Black community does not have a seat at the table. Our Executive branch is run by a racist, misogynist bigot who ignores recommendations from the Congressional Black Caucus and from Democrats, more broadly. We are told that we have a voice in politics through our vote, but too often we are also asked to blindly accept the candidate before us without an opportunity to be heard.
US Senate candidates rarely come to the minority community to ask for our votes. Most wait until it becomes politically expedient, strategically opportune. They expect our votes, but do not forge relationships with the minority voters.
Richard Painter is different.
Painter won’t take the Black vote for granted. He has come to the Black community and asked for votes. He has sat down and discussed the issues. He has heard the community’s concerns and understands its priorities. He has promised that he will continue to fight on behalf of minorities and the disenfranchised. And, Painter walks the walk.
He is not a status quo candidate.
Too often, candidates will offer spectacular plans to better the lives of their minority constituents, only to walk away with our votes and pretend like we don’t exist. That’s not Painter. He is a true reformer candidate, and to the Black community, he represents the best opportunity to create real change in our institutions — schools, prisons, and courts — a change which other candidates are willing only to commit lip service.
Painter understands the obstacles that are in the path of Black folks. He understands the systemic racism that overpopulates prisons with men of color and how the criminal justice system discriminates against the poor. He understands how the war on drugs has done nothing but create a pipeline from minority communities to prisons and juvenile detention centers.
He will fight for criminal justice reform, the legalization of marijuana, ending the war on drugs, erasing convictions for federal marijuana crimes, and ending family-shattering practices of mass incarceration.
Painter also understands that the nation’s healthcare system is broken. He understands that for minority households, healthcare costs represent one of the largest annual costs. He is a champion for single-payer healthcare that will stop insurance companies from gouging the paychecks of the most needy.
Why does Painter understand these concerns more than other candidates? Because he listens.
Painter does not duck debates with his opponents. He does not host $500-a-plate fundraisers at the homes of CEOs. He has been the most accessible candidate I have known in the many years I have been involved in politics.
He is willing to fight the real fights — to rail against the machine and its many injustices for all. He will not hold up a finger to feel which way the political winds are blowing. He is on the Black community’s side. He is unapologetically who he is; a leader and a fighter, and someone we shouldn’t worry about sending to Washington and becoming status quo.
Richard Painter is the right choice, Minnesota.
Jamar B. Nelson is a community activist and radio host of Black Republican Black Democrat on iHeart Radio and locally on KTLK 103.5.