For Freshmen. By Freshmen.
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Aug 14 2017
by Trevor Falsey

Mateusz Tomkowiak: Immigrant, Activist and Congressional Candidate

By Trevor Falsey - Aug 14 2017

Mateusz Tomkowiak is a congressional candidate for Illinois 3rd District, whom Fresh U had the opportunity to interview about his campaign. Born and raised in Poland, Tomkowiak left for America when he was nine, with his family and just four suitcases. Starting at the bottom, they rented a small apartment and he attended public schools while his father worked a night shift at a local factory and his mother worked with disabled children for the Chicago Public Schools. Despite some setbacks and having to struggle through difficult times, Tomkowiak was able to rise through the public school system and eventually get his bachelor's at Cornell and doctorate at Princeton.

Tomkowiak cares strongly about the healthcare system after seeing how bad the "for profit" system treated his brother, who was diagnosed with Schizophrenia. This caused Tomkowiak to become skeptical of politicians, telling Fresh U that "[politicians] don't care what scholars think."

We both agreed that this has become increasingly obvious during Trumpcare’s potential reign of terrorwhere Tomkowiak noticed that "politicians supporting and writing this bill largely ignored scholars disapproval about the bill." This exemplifies a culture where politicians like that do not care about the people, but instead, care about how they themselves can profit off legislation. He told Fresh U that "it saddens [him] that politics have been turned into a game, especially when that game is based off self-interest and not policy."

After the political disaster of 2016, Tomkowiak decided he was done being “behind the scenes” and wanted to work with the American people to create a better future. His main message during his congressional campaign is anti-establishment, stating that “the two political parties are a hot mess, where the GOP is insane and the Democrats are basically a weak, centric party.” Tomkowiak believes that because of this, the American public is simply not being represented and that there is a limited voice for true progressive ideas in the modern Congress.

Tomkowiak continued by saying that “most politicians are rich and old, where they are overrepresented while only 1 percent of Congress is between the ages of 25-35 and only 8 percent fall in the bottom 90 percent economically". Essentially, he believes that there needs to be more descriptive and political representation.

The remoteness between Millennials and the politicians in power truly forces people to not be interested in politics. But as 2016 showed us, it is more imperative than ever to speak out and engage in politics. For this reason, it is also vehemently important that candidates such as Mateusz have the support of college students. Tomkowiak promises to represent our needs, both as Millennials and as college students, by supporting the College for All act and promising to address college inequality.

As Tomkowiak says, “Millennials are not the future, we are the present. Our generation has the highest unemployment rate, we are buried in college debt and we need young people to stand for what they believe." His final advice for Millennials is to "always stay alert, be informed and don’t be afraid to fight the political establishment.” 

Lead Image Credit: Mateusz Tomkowiak 

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Trevor Falsey - Sarah Lawrence College

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