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Democrats broadly agree on many things: that women have a right to bodily autonomy; that LGBTQIA+ rights are human rights; that bold climate action is an urgent necessity; and that access to quality education, stable housing and affordable health care are essential to creating a life of opportunity. Indeed, those are all things where I agree with my 2024 election opponent, U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar. It's where we differ that will be at stake in August's primary.

Two years ago, I entered the congressional race because our community had been tested by the murder of George Floyd and the subsequent upheaval. While cooler heads worked to chart a course to consensus and safety, Omar exacerbated the conflict and reduced the dialogue to two sides: those who, like her, wanted to "defund the police" and those who were fine with the abuse meted out by fired Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.

Today, as our country navigates complex challenges, Omar's actions, alongside others on the distant ends of our political spectrum, continue to aggravate, oversimplify, and leave others to do the real work of creating solutions. It's much easier to fly across the country to college campus protests, labeling Jewish students "pro-genocide" and "anti- genocide," than it is to bring the Israeli and Palestinian people together for a two-state solution that ultimately leads to lasting peace.

A recent Pew survey found that 65% of Americans feel exhausted when thinking about politics; more alarming, 55% feel angry. Compare that with 10% who are hopeful or the 4% who are excited. Given the opportunity, 79% of voters use negative words to describe what they see, with "divisive" and "corrupt" coming up most frequently. A full 86% believe that "Republicans and Democrats are more focused on fighting each other than on solving problems."

Sadly, democracies have always had to contend with those who justify their every action by demonizing their opponents. It's a shortcut to electoral success, but it hinders progress.

I'm hopeful, however, because I believe people are ready to move from the divisive, self-serving, us-vs.-them style of leadership to a model of collaboration that fosters outcomes. In this country, true progress is never out of reach, but we need the type of political leadership that inspires people toward a brighter future instead of simply inciting its political base.

The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. said, "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice." I came of age in the wake of the civil rights movement, not just admiring the work of King and his contemporaries but directly benefiting from it. As a Black man, I know all too well that we have yet to fully realize the potential of this great nation. But I know firsthand the great vision and sacrifice that it took for our country to achieve what it has become, because I am a product of that progress.

A Jamaican immigrant, I arrived with just $82 in my pocket and went on to have a successful career as a toy designer for the largest names in the industry, often as the only person of color in the room. Just one generation earlier, that would have been impossible. I remain forever grateful for those leaders who paved the way. That is why my wife, Sondra, and I have committed our lives to living in the most challenged area of our city, partnering with other changemakers for generational transformation.

For us, that meant organizing with our neighbors around livability and safety issues. It meant holding all-day vigils after a homicide to demonstrate the value of each life. It meant advocating for the best educational opportunities for North Side kids and facilitating additional support services for their parents. It meant championing the state's first local Ban the Box initiative to reduce the stigma of a criminal record and expand opportunity. It meant believing in our neighbors and believing in a bright future for our community.

An eternal optimist, I also believe in a bright future for America. In March 2022, I announced my campaign to challenge Omar in that summer's Democratic primary.

Many political observers thought we had no chance. In a David-and-Goliath race, our campaign was facing a party-endorsed incumbent with superior resources. That year, we made Minnesota history by coming within 2.1% — just 2,500 votes — of winning. In 2024, we'll make history again, by winning. However, we can't do it alone. If you believe in a brighter future, please join us at donsamuels.com.

Don Samuels is the former CEO of MicroGrants and a candidate for Congress in Minnesota's Fifth District. He served three terms on the Minneapolis City Council and one term on the Minneapolis school board.