Meet Mckayla Wilkes – the anti-imperialist challenger aiming to unseat a top House Democrat

By James Moules


TWO years after Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez shocked the US political establishment by defeating top House Democrat Joe Crowley in a New York primary, another progressive challenger is aiming to pull off a similar upset victory.

Coming from a humble background and advocating a platform of police reform, Medicare-for-All and a Green New Deal, Mckayla Wilkes is standing against House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer in the primary for Maryland’s 5th district.

Among her many progressive credentials, she stands in staunch opposition to imperialist US foreign policy.

On her campaign website, she says: “America’s aggressive military adventurism has been a complete failure.

“From the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to more recent interventions in Libya, the United States’ military engagements have both failed to meet our stated geopolitical objectives and caused massive human misery.

“The victims of American militarism are always the same: the poor and marginalized. Abroad, families are forced to flee their homeland for fear of violence; at home, folks are deprived of needed benefits as the military swallows ever larger portions of the federal budget.”

Her foreign policy proposals include ending United States support for the Saudi-led campaign in Yemen and the introduction of a fresh ‘Authorization for the Use of Military Force’ to limit executive military action powers without approval from congress.

She also stands in favour of cutting $200 billion of defence spending.

She goes on: “The United States needs an anti-imperialist foreign policy of peace and cooperation.

“Two decades after the end of the Cold War, we cannot continue to subsidize the military industrial complex while starving the Department of State.

“American foreign policy must support trade arrangements and international institutions that work for everyone’s benefit — not just multinational corporations.

“And the U.S. Congress must stand up to the Executive Branch when it funnels weapons to dictators in Saudi Arabia or orchestrates a coup in Venezuela.”

By contrast, the incumbent Steny Hoyer has a more hawkish record on foreign policy, most notably having voted in favour of the 2003 Invasion of Iraq.

Steny Hoyer’s team was contacted for comment.

Mckayla is also standing on a platform of police reform in the United States. On her website, she describes her experience with US law enforcement while she was growing up.

She said: “I witnessed firsthand how our criminal justice system fails to support and rehabilitate troubled youth, instead allowing mistreatment and humiliation.

“Juveniles who have entered the justice system — many of whom have endured trauma, neglect, and abuse — are made to view themselves as hopeless and irredeemable, and too often fall into an endless cycle of marginalization and incarceration.”

“I continued to interact with the criminal justice system in my late teens and early adult years, experiencing the disproportionate impact the law has on poor and working-class people of color.”

Her platform includes demilitarisation of the police in the United States – a policy she emphasised when speaking in response to the killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.

She said: “I am proud to be running on the boldest police reform agenda in the history of Maryland’s fifth district.

“People of color in this country understand what it is like to be treated as second-class citizens, and this brutal killing is another tragic example of the callous disregard America’s criminal justice system has for black lives.

“Racism is everywhere: in our policing, our prisons, our politics. The killings of Floyd and Taylor must be a turning point.

“This moment demands full police demilitarization, an end to stop-and-frisk, and a comprehensive dismantling of our racist criminal justice system.”

The primary for Maryland’s 5th district is set to be held tomorrow, June 2.

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Featured Image: Mckayla Wilkes 2020 campaign

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