Axios is reporting that the much-rumored vestigial spine of the Democratic Party is appearing again:
Democrats are starting to fight back against the bludgeoning they’ve taken since the Republicans seized on socially charged issues to help win this fall’s midterms.
Recent research has shown the barrage of “culture war” messaging — on everything from critical race theory to bashing LGBTQ communities — is working, and Democrats now realize they can’t ignore it any longer. They want to make 2022 a referendum on MAGA nation and its agenda.
When they go low, we need to already be down there with brass knuckles and socks filled with sand, in other words.
Democrats have often shied away from the emotional appeal of such issues — even with abortion rights — frequently dismissing Republican attacks as unworthy of a response.
- Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) told Axios: “There’s a lot of us that are extremely frustrated with Republicans for doing this but also want our colleagues to be comfortable enough to stand up and defend our values rather than running to some other message or running away from it.”
- “I think that’s starting to happen,” said Jayapal, chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.
- Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Mich.) said: “It is very clear that the other side is going to continue to sort of fear-monger as a way to drum up support. For some [voters] that works, but I think pushing back works too.”
Full disclosure: Jayapal is my representative in Congress. I wish she was one of my Senators.
Until last week, Democrats felt they didn’t have a clear, firebrand example for how to successfully push back on these attacks — even though the party’s leaders control the White House and both chambers of Congress.
Now, they believe they have at least one: little-known Michigan state Sen. Mallory McMorrow.
- The lawmaker from a blue-collar state gave a now-viral floor speech in Lansing rebuking a Republican colleague for labeling her a “groomer” over her support of LGBTQ kids’ rights.
- Every Democratic House member interviewed by Axios amid this reporting independently mentioned McMorrow and the backbone and passion she displayed.
We told you! She gave Democrats a template, now I wonder if they will use it or a very earnest 117 slide Powerpoint with lotsa charts?
Some more comments:
Rep. Haley Stevens (D-Mich.) compared the virality of the speech to that of Barack Obama’s speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, telling Axios it was the “perfect call-out to the attacks on what McMorrow dubbed ‘marginalized people.'”
- Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio), a candidate for the U.S. Senate, said: “I think you absolutely need to have that kind of tone, that kind of attitude on these issues. These guys are punching down. … I think you’ve got to hit back. You’ve got to hit back hard.”
- McMorrow herself told MSNBC last week: “I hope that there are a lot more people like me, who see what I did and say, ‘We have to stand up and fight back.’ Because this strategy is not going away.”
- Rahna Epting, executive director of MoveOn, told Axios: “It’s very clear to me this needs to be a referendum on today’s Republican Party, which has embraced [Make America Great Again].” [Emphasis mine, not Axios]
- “It’s about all of us versus MAGA. I’m not just talking about Trump, but the disease within the GOP that has taken over,” Epting continued.
What they’re saying: Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.), chairman of the Democratic National Campaign Committee, warned of the Republicans’ “alarmingly potent” tactics in February.
- Maloney, a member of the LGBTQ community, told Axios that Republicans have become “openly homophobic and hateful in some of their rhetoric, and we don’t need to be shy at all.”
The point here is to lead with our values. As we’ve long said here, the first rule of politics is to define yourself before your opponent defines you. Letting the bullies get away with it —and not fighting back— tells the public that, yeah, you’re not gonna fight for them, either. Punch back. Hard.
It’s time to define the hateful bigots and call them out. It’s the Chicago Way:
“Do you want to know how to get Capone? You’ve got to do it the Chicago Way. He pulls a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one o’ yours to the hospital, you send one o’ his to the morgue. That’s the Chicago way. And that’s how you get Capone.”
If you really want to go higher when they go low, make sure you have a sniper’s rifle. Figurative, of course.