If one wants to understand why our republic is in crisis, consider the embarrassment now unfolding in Washington. Consider four freshmen congresswomen clearly more concerned about satisfying their oversized egos and living up to their press releases than shaping policy and demonstrating leadership. Consider too a narcissistic president who regularly confirms the worst suspicions so many citizens have about him and his party when it comes to racism, lies and balderdash.
Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has understandably had her hands full trying to corral Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and three far-left colleagues who have wasted much time since their 2018 elections generating incendiary rhetoric and repeatedly embarrassing Democratic moderates who, after all, were the ones who flipped Republican seats in the last election. Liberals did not deliver the House into Democratic hands; moderates did, promising pragmatic policy solutions.
Unfortunately, the frothing foursome sought to play the race card in defying Pelosi’s efforts to rein in provocative comments that do nothing to bolster Democratic efforts to govern. Ocasio-Cortez’s chief of staff equated Democratic moderates to Southern segregationists of yesteryear. And when Pelosi sought to point out that Ocasio-Cortez and her “squad” have much media pull but little influence on the caucus (true if you look at the recent border supplemental relief bill vote), Ocasio-Cortez claimed Pelosi was disrespectful to “newly elected women of color.” Oh, sure.
To that very limited degree, President Trump was correct: “Cortez should treat Nancy Pelosi with respect. She should not be doing what she is doing. And I’ll tell you something about Nancy Pelosi that you know better than I do: She is not a racist, OK?” Unfortunately, Trump’s chronic failure to know when to shut up and put aside his Twitter account allowed him to subsequently betray racially charged themes by inviting the four congresswomen of color to go back to their countries of origin. Three of the four were born in the United States. Shades of Obama birtherism?
So does Tuesday’s House vote condemning the president for “racist comments that have legitimized and increased fear and hatred of new Americans and people of color” offer lasting value? Hardly — and certainly not if you excuse the rhetoric of Ocasio-Cortez and her group, including Rep. Rashida Tlaip, who after being sworn into office dropped the F-bomb in referring to the need to impeach Trump. During his conference call with constituents Tuesday evening, Republican Congressman Bill Flores, in condemning the president’s weekend tweets and earlier rhetoric by such lawmakers as Tlaip, suggested it was “time for everyone to lay down their weapons and lay down their tweets” in the interest of moving forward. Clever, reassuring words but in the end just words. At this juncture we as Americans had better see vigorous, consensus-forging examples of bipartisan legislating, setting examples of real leadership for us all. Good place to start: patching the mauled Voting Rights Act and reforming immigration with something for everybody.