The views expressed are representative of only the Michigan in Color editors. This is not the official endorsement of The Michigan Daily.
The 2018 Michigan primary election will take place this Tuesday, Aug. 7. In light of the current state and national political climate — a climate which continues to seriously harm marginalized communities — the editors of Michigan in Color endorse Abdul El-Sayed for Democratic gubernatorial candidate of Michigan.
When Rick Snyder leaves office, Michigan will have the opportunity to fill his seat with a progressive who will do what’s right for our state. We believe Abdul El-Sayed is this person. Our confidence in El-Sayed first comes from his strong background in community outreach. Not only is he a University of Michigan alum, but El-Sayed is an expert in the field of public health, earning his doctorate at Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar and his medical degree at Columbia University. As the former health officer and executive director of the Detroit Health Department, El-Sayed served many marginalized groups to promote health by tackling cross-generational poverty, infant mortality and air pollution. Some of his many accomplishments include building programs to give glasses to children in Detroit Public Schools, reducing infant mortality and unplanned pregnancies and making sure schools and daycares in Detroit have lead-free water. At a time when Michigan’s health system is one of the most systematically broken in the nation, El-Sayed, a public health expert who has completed immense hands-on work in the field, is what Michigan needs right now. His track record in effective project management proves that he is fit to take his work to the state level.
Support for El-Sayed also comes from his comprehensive platform, which centers the voices of people of color and intentionally focuses on problems that impact marginalized communities. The stance for racial equity comes from a deeper reflection in the social determinants of health that intersect with race. We align with El-Sayed’s views for school discipline reform that centers itself in trauma-informed, multi-level interventions that dismantle the disproportionate, negative effects on students of color. Moreover, his views on environmental justice prioritize the health of communities of color where corporations have negligently let air pollution harm them. El-Sayed’s platform also invests in long-term sustainability, not just short-term solutions. Additionally, we support policy reform that increases access to capital for communities of color in terms of small business and workers’ rights.
Additionally, we approve his approach to criminal justice reform by increasing public oversight of police. On immigration, El-Sayed wishes to make Michigan safe for immigrants of all documentation statuses. His platform also has implications outside of Michigan, as he hopes to put pressure on the federal government to abolish ICE and work towards a more humane immigration system. In terms of healthcare, El-Sayed proposes MichCare: a single-payer system that would provide universal healthcare to every Michigander.
The remainder of the primary field offers unsatisfactory alternatives. Shri Thanedar has campaigned on a progressive platform; however, his history of political donations and unethical business practices are highly concerning. While Whitmer offers experience in the Michigan Senate and a handful of progressive policies, we worry about her ties to the Democratic establishment and corporate donors, and her lack of a comprehensive plan to uplift Michigan’s communities of color. We believe that her election, though better than Thanedar’s, would be a return to business as usual — which we know is detrimental to people of color. With Schuette projected to win the Republican nomination, Michigan voters need a clear alternative to the incompetency and bigotry that has followed Michigan state politics as of late. El-Sayed, more so than any other, is the right candidate for Michigan.
Some have claimed that El-Sayed’s platform is unattainable and unlikely to be fully realized. This is a viable criticism of any candidate’s platform — progressive, moderate, or conservative. All elected politicians are forced to compromise on campaign promises. However, if El-Sayed wins, he has made clear that those compromises will not include the health and well-being of marginalized communities in Michigan.
The editors of Michigan in Color put our full support for Abdul El-Sayed. A public health approach that understands the needs of marginalized communities in Michigan is essential for progress. The comprehensive nature of El-Sayed’s platform leads us to believe in a future that strives for an incredibly more equitable state of Michigan. We believe that such a progressive stance is needed at this time, and the state of Michigan is ready for it.