A woman with a headscarf, Deedra Abboud, speaks to constiuents.

Progressive Activist Deedra Abboud is Running Against Joe Arpaio for U.S. Senate

Deedra Abboud is a Muslim, feminist activist running for U.S. Senate in the state of Arizona. A former immigration lawyer and a self-proclaimed “civil rights and social justice advocate,” Abboud is the progressive candidate Arizona needs to defeat Arpaio and his brand of racist politics.

In addition to her legal career, Abboud’s community organizing efforts have focused on fostering interfaith dialogue and defending freedom of religion, combatting discrimination against Native Americans in schools, investigating discrimination complaints against law enforcement and the FBI, campaigning for marriage equality, and fighting for access to abortion and birth control and women’s health in general. Recognizing that many young people, women of color, and progressive activists are disenchanted with the political process and eager for a candidate that takes our struggles and voices seriously, Abboud points to her activist background as the strength of her campaign. In a recent interview, Abboud—who previously campaigned for another Muslim organizer-turned politician Keith Ellison—said: “People want something to be excited about. There’s nothing more exciting than someone running with the passion, the honesty, who has worked in the trenches, who has worked with different communities.”

The Phoenix-based attorney and activist represents the kind of candidate we need in Trump’s amerikkka: a grassroots organizer who has experience working with directly-affected communities and who recognizes that establishment politics won’t protect us from racist, right-wing attacks. As a U.S. Senator, Abboud says her priorities would include ensuring universal access to affordable and adequate healthcare, funding and strengthening free public education (which is under attack in Arizona), “vigorously opposing” any and all attacks against women’s reproductive freedom, and defending immigrants from federal and local attempts to detain and deport us and separate immigrants from our families. This last policy stance is crucial, especially considering her Republican opponent: former Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who made a name for himself by targeting immigrants and violating the civil and human rights of anyone he suspected of being an immigrant. Abboud has a proven record of fighting for the rights of immigrants and against abuses by border patrol agents and immigration enforcement officials. Arpaio, on the other hand, has promised to support Trump’s mission to “Make America Great Again” and to escalate attacks against immigrants if he is elected.

Some are pointing out that Abboud’s campaign is a long shot. David Wells, a political science professor at Arizona State University, argues that Abboud’s background as an activist may be a disadvantage because “She’s not been active in the Democratic Party, and as a consequence she’s not been tapped into the state political party network.” She has also faced multiple attacks and online abuse for being Muslim and for wearing the hijab. On top of that, neither of Arizona’s Senate seats has been held by a Democrat in over 20 years.

But, as I’ve argued before, in a world where Trump can be elected president with no experience and no heart, we have to dream just as big that a community organizer who is committed to intersectional politics and to mobilizing communities neglected by both parties—DREAMers, Black Lives Matter activists, young labor organizers, anti-war constituencies—can be elected to public office. Being an activist and community organizer isn’t Abboud’s downfall, but her strength. As Meghna has written, “the country is desperate for progressive, left-leaning, and drastic change.” Candidates like Chelsea Manning, Zellie Thomas, and Deedra Abboud represent the kinds of leaders we need in 2018: people who understand and invoke intersectionality as a guiding component of their campaigns, grassroots organizers and activists who speak directly and proactively to the issues affecting Black, Native, Muslim, immigrant, and women voters, and feminists who refuse to bow to centrist politics at the expense of communities battling oppression.

Learn more about Abboud’s campaign and, if you’re in Arizona, sign up to volunteer here.

Durham, NC

Barbara is a doctoral student at The University of North Carolina interested in im/migration and migrant activism and organizing.

Barbara is a doctoral student at The University of North Carolina interested in im/migration and migrant activism and organizing.

Read more about Barbara

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