JENerational Change #1 – Shahid Buttar

Shahid Buttar has long been a progressive force in San Francisco, it’s no wonder he’s seen as Nancy Pelosi’s first real challenger in recent memory. The man can do it all. Since graduating from Stanford Law School in 2003, Shahid has done work as a legal advocate in both San Francisco and Washington. In addition, Shahid has been a non-profit leader, grassroots organizer, poet and musician.

A self-described Democratic Socialist, Shahid is the antithesis of Nancy Pelosi at every level. He supports Medicare for all, a Green New Deal, and campaign finance reform. Moreover, Shahid has consistently remained on the right side of history as his activism clearly shows a figure much more in tune to the needs of the American people than Nancy Pelosi. In this political David v. Goliath, Shahid is seen as the ultimate underdog with most major media outlets refusing to even cover Pelosi’s primary challenge. Why is Shahid labeled as an underdog when his opponent has one of the lowest approval ratings of any politician in congress?

The answer is found in this inaugural episode of JENerational Change, where Jen and Shahid exchange horror stories about what it’s like to challenge a high-ranking incumbent in the Democratic Party. While their stories are different, they share a multitude of similarities. They were both ignored by the local Democratic Party. News outlets refused to cover their races or give them any type of attention. Local democratic clubs refused to even acknowledge their existence. These are just some of the challenges facing progressive candidates around the country. Which begs the question: how can you expect an equal race when the Speaker of the House refuses to even participate in a debate for an entire generation? How can you form a coalition if local progressive outlets are so beholden to the incumbent that they “accidentally” accuse you of sexual assault?  How can you win when the days of investigative reporting are gone? 

Back in the old days, running for office was treated with much more seriousness than it is today. Long gone are the days when journalists used to go out on the field and report the news with the aim of keeping our government accountable. Now mainstream media is nothing more than a propaganda arm for the two corporate parties. With independent media facing a mainstream blackout it’s no wonder the public today is not so much uninformed as it is misinformed. Mainstream media creates an echo chamber and manages to transform politics into a team sport. While independent media attempts to look past the performative antics and reveal the actual news without any corporate or party spin. This media blackout amounts to a modern-day book burning and it’s the environment in which centrist democrats such as Nancy Pelosi and Debbie Wasserman Schultz thrive. 

They live in a world where they can vote against the will of their constituents and still remain in power almost by decree. Whether she’s enabling the CIA to commit torture under the Bush administration or enabling Donald Trump’s worst impulses by signing off on his military budgets, Pelosi serves as nothing more than false opposition to the Republican Party. She does not serve as a check on corporate greed nor does she place people at the front of her politics. Replacing her with Shahid Buttar would present us with an opportunity to start over and turn politics away from corporate interests and back to what it’s always been about which is public service. San Francisco deserves a voice that will unapologetically fight for its citizens. A voice that will fight against the military industrial complex, big pharma and all other sources of corporate greed. A voice that places people before profit. That voice is possible if we oust Nancy Pelosi and send Shahid Buttar to congress.

The progressive movement is at a disadvantage when it comes to resources but if there is anything the last couple of years has shown us is that rejecting corporate money and supporting progressive policies wins elections. This is why progressive challengers such as Shahid Buttar are essential in order to achieve JENerational Change.


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Jen Perelman

Jen currently serves as a pro bono attorney for Probation Station, a South Florida nonprofit, to help deliver a pathway out of the criminal justice system through early termination of probation. She continues to organize community service work through JENCorps, the volunteer coalition that she began as a candidate.