People Like Us

The New Wave of Candidates Knocking at Democracy’s Door

The inspiring story of political newcomers (sometimes also newcomers to America) who are knocking down built-in barriers to creating better government

“Democracy is never a final achievement. It is a call to an untiring effort.” —John F. Kennedy

The system is rigged: America’s political leadership remains overwhelmingly white, male, moneyed, and Christian. Even at the local and state levels, elected office is inaccessible to the people it aims to represent. But in People Like Us, political scientist Sayu Bhojwani shares the stories of a diverse and persevering range of local and state politicians from across the country who are challenging the status quo, winning against all odds, and leaving a path for others to follow in their wake.

In Anaheim, California, a previously undocumented Mexican American challenges the high-powered interests of the Disney Corporation to win a city council seat. In the Midwest, a thirty-something Muslim Somali American unseats a forty-four-year incumbent in the Minnesota house of representatives. These are some of the foreign-born, lower-income, and of-color Americans who have successfully taken on leadership roles in elected office despite xenophobia, political gatekeeping, and personal financial concerns. In accessible prose, Bhojwani shines a light on the political, systemic, and cultural roadblocks that prevent our elected officials from effectively representing a rapidly changing America, and offers forward-thinking solutions on how to get rid of these barriers.

People Like Us serves as an essential guide for the burgeoning democracy that has been a long time in the making: inclusive, multiracial, and unstoppable.

Praise

People Like Us . . . highlights solutions on how to reimagine electoral processes and achieve a truly representative democracy. A timely and compelling read relevant for our current political environment.”
—Anthony Romero, executive director, ACLU
“Sayu Bhojwani’s analysis of what works and what needs urgent change serves as a road map for the future of our democracy. People Like Us is a must-read for this political moment.”
—Howard Dean, former DNC chair and Vermont governor
People Like Us pushes us . . . to reject the perception of new Americans as outsiders by running for office and being seated at policy tables where our futures are decided. . . . Sayu Bhojwani brilliantly offers solid guidance on how to course correct our democracy.”
—Diane Guerrero, actor, activist, and author of In the Country We Love: My Family Divided
“At a time when immigrants are being called ‘animals’ . . . Sayu Bhojwani brings us the stories of real people who are . . . turning rage into action by jumping into the political process. This is the most hopeful of American stories. It’s what immigrants and people of color have been doing for centuries. It’s our past but Bhojwani shows us this is also our collective future.”
—Maria Hinojosa, NPR’s Latino USA
People Like Us is an inspiring read for people of color and immigrants, who are leading the charge for a democracy that works for all.”
—Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, 7th District of Washington