Editor's note: I've known Shahid Buttar for years, in his capacity as an activist organizer, drawing on his background as a constitutional lawyer and his deep commitment to a just world to help start effective grassroots groups across America; now Shahid has taken leave from EFF to challenge Nancy Pelosi — a consistent force for more surveillance and profits over people — for the Democratic nomination to Congress in California's 12th District. I'm proud to endorse his candidacy. -Cory
I'm running for Congress because I can't watch America's constitutional crisis from the sidelines. San Francisco's representative in Washington talks about resistance, but having been in the House for 30 years, she has become a pillar of the Washington establishment. Even worse, she has repeatedly caved under this maniacal President and compromised our rights.
San Francisco is America's most progressive city. We deserve to be represented by someone who actively champions our community's inclusive values, rather than a corporate establishment placing profit before people. I've been fighting that establishment for nearly 20 years in the courts, in the policy sphere, in the media, and in the streets.
Watching our representative in San Francisco hand expanded domestic surveillance powers to the Trump administration in January 2018 was too much for me to bear. A month later, she spoke from the House floor about defending immigrants, after engineering a backroom deal to throw us under the bus.
My political backbone was forged early, long before I joined the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) to create and cultivate a national grassroots network among local communities advocating for digital rights. As I finished college back in the 90s, I discovered the anti-globalization movement, just as the State Department began recruiting me to serve as a diplomat.
I went to Stanford Law School instead. I threw myself into my studies, as well as the movement to stop the War in Iraq. At Stanford, I helped organized a student strike and street art campaign, as well as non-violent direct action blockading a corporate weapons contractor.
Soon after graduating from Stanford Law in 2003, I helped push marriage equality for same sex couples into the national political mainstream. The legal challenge I organized in New York state was ultimately defeated, but paved the way for a legislative triumph in 2011.
I also helped win an appellate court battle defending campaign finance reform, years before the Supreme Court's disastrous Citizens United decision in 2010 that invited corporate corruption across the political establishment.
I've been speaking truth to power ever since, both on the inside and from the outside. From joining a dozen Occupy sites, to taking direct action with the movement for black lives, I've also crafted legal briefs challenging military detention powers, and spoken at congressional briefings about NSA surveillance at the invitation of Members of Congress.
My writing has appeared in outlets like TechCrunch, Huffington Post, and Project Censored, as well as legal academic journals and the Burning Man Journal. Writing for EFF, I've supported net neutrality and local campaigns to restrain surveillance, while critiquing absent congressional oversight of intelligence agencies, and the FBI's disturbing calls to undermine encryption.
My writing in other outlets addresses issues from police violence to drone strikes, from NSA surveillance to CIA torture, and from effective counter-terrorism strategies to voting rights. I've also published a guide to social justice events at Burning Man (where my performances are as political as my writing), and profiles of counter-cultural activists whose work combines art and organizing.
Our shared struggle pits We the People of the United States against a corrupt corporate establishment that dominates not only Republicans, but also Democrats—like the one who has represented San Francisco for over 30 years.
When she first entered Congress, the Internet had not been invented yet.
San Francisco needs a fresh voice.
Our city needs a representative in Washington who will work to curtail military spending, fight to save social services, and defend the rights of all Americans. And our country needs public servants who will forcefully fight corruption in whatever form it emerges, from fraudulent weapons contracts to the prison-industrial-slavery complex.
You deserve a representative in Washington who embodies our city's values unapologetically, someone for whom resistance is more than just a hashtag.
We can do better together. Learn more about our campaign to gain real representation for America's most progressive city at www.ShahidForChange.us.