ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Solomon Rajput is done waiting for politicians to act, so he is running for Congress.
Over the phone, the 28-year-old University of Michigan medical student said that Michigan’s 12th congressional district needs a representative who will be “unapologetically progressive.”
“I think that we need to remember that this is a very progressive district. The Democrat gets almost 70 percent of the vote in this district,” said Rajput,” And we need somebody who is going to be representing us as an unapologetic progressive, and that is actually going to be aligning with the values of this district -- not somebody who is going to be representing this district as if it was like a district that could go to the Republicans.”
Rajput’s campaign slogan is “We’re Done Waiting,” which he said embodies how he feels regarding how “the political elite” work incrementally.
“The establishment, all they know how to do is to think small, but that same small thinking is what’s gotten us into this mess in the first place. I mean, I think by now it’s clear to everyone that we can’t just keep putting band-aids on our broken systems and expecting things to change,” said Rajput.
“We need to go out there and fight for these big, bold policies that are going to address our issues at a fundamental-structural level.”
He said that politicians have been telling people to wait but that type of solution “lacks urgency” and isn’t working.
Although it was an agonizing decision for him, he’s taking time away from medical school to run for Michigan’s 12th congressional district seat, which is currently held by Rep. Debbie Dingell. He said he noticed she didn’t support the issues he, and many of those he knows, feel are most important.
Rajput was also swayed by what the world could look like in 10 years.
He said the single most pressing issue is climate change and noted that there are only 10 years left to act, a time frame based on a 2018 report given by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. He said he wasn’t sure what kind of world he would enter into as a physician if nothing was done to combat climate change.
“And I do believe that we need a green new deal to tackle this crisis, because we need a plan that’s as big as the problem that we’re facing,” he said.
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Although Rajput is used to grassroots organizing, he said that campaigning during a pandemic is a “completely new ball game.” His campaign pivoted from knocking on doors to remote campaigning through phone calls, texting, social media and TikTok, an app that reaches many young voters.
His campaign has raised $117,000 in public donations, which he said shows collected organization and the support of young people in the district, who he said want to show their progressive beliefs.
“I’m really proud of the campaign that we’ve built through the power of organizing, really, and through the power of young people, because young people are at the head of this campaign. It’s been extraordinary.”
Rajput said that the campaign has mobilized people in the district who share his progressive values and vision.
Deeply connected to the district, Rajput is the son of Pakistani immigrants who moved to Ann Arbor when he was 8-years-old. He went through the Ann Arbor Public School system and returned to study at the University of Michigan after studying at Dartmouth.
He said that he believes police budgets should be reallocated into community services that have continuously been underfunded. He said that although progressive policies, like Medicare-for-all and free college tuition, are deemed “radical,” now is the time to change that mentality.
“The only radical thing here is the status quo.”
Rajput is running against MI-12 incumbent Rep. Debbie Dingell. She has represented the district since 2015. Her late husband, former Rep. John Dingell Jr., held the seat from 2012-2015.
Learn more about Solomon Rajput and his campaign here.
All About Ann Arbor has also interviewed Rep. Dingell.