Third Party & Independents Archives

Ms. Pressley Has Entered The Building

First of all, a little perspective on Massachusetts’ 7th district. Hillary Clinton carried it by 72 points in 2016. Seventy. Two. Points. Ok? This is Boston suburbs with a diverse and very progressive voter base. It’s not Trump country. It’s as Blue as it gets in America.

So, does this take from or add to Ayanna Pressley - Boston's first African-American councilwoman and a former aide to Representative Joseph Kennedy II and Senator John Kerry - and her upset over long-time member of Congress Mike Capuano? Is Ms. Pressley another bellwether of things to come? Or will she prove to be - along with Ocasio-Cortez - an exception to Democrat primary politics and not in fact the future of the Democratic Party?

While that remains to be seen, other progressives were defeated in Massachusetts' Tuesday primaries: Stephen Francis Lynch, who's represented the state since 2001 and is currently defending his seat for the 8th district, easily beat software entrepreneur (oops progressive female candidate; sorry!) Brianna Wu. A 63-year-old former steel worker easily fends off a young, female, minority, high-tech businesswoman. Come on Team Blue, what the hell is wrong with you?

In other words, politics can still remain a local thing despite Trump being Trump.

Because while identity politics didn't overcome the 8th district's loyalty to their representative, it sure did next door in Massachusetts' 7th. Consider this statement from Ms. Pressley (who will almost certainly win the general election and take over Capuano's seat in Congress) from a debate during the primary campaign:

We will vote the same way, but I will lead differently.

And her statement that: representation does matter.

Consider the implications of these statements, rather unsurprising affirmations of identity politics. If who you are matters more than what you say, or which bills you vote for or vote against, then you are no longer representing your voters' wishes or their policy preferences. You are representing their identities by representing yourself. As an African-American councilwoman and former aide. Or as an Asian-American tech entrepreneur (had Wu won the primary, of course).

One could say that you in fact are no longer a Representative for your electoral district, but rather you are a Representationist for your electoral district. While you proudly claim the office of Representative, once duly elected, you act as a voice for a certain group, or more accurately for a carefully selected basket of certain groups. Groups that appear and shift and divide with increasing speed and fury. Defined by intersectional identities with all its attendant sublime outrages bubbling latently under the surface until a poor older white fool teases them to the surface with some comment that offends for any number of reasons.

Except when they don't because you've just lost to an older white male like Stephen Francis Lynch.

But Lynch is indeed older at 63, and Brianna Wu and Ayanna Pressley are almost certainly the future (at least for now) of the Democratic Party. So maybe the difference between Pressley and Wu is that Pressley will have entered the building first, but Wu may someday fairly soon follow her. So, when Francis Lynch has left the building sometime over the following years, and Pressley has long entered the building, the question will increasingly become: is Congress increasingly going to legislate based on citizen's identity?

Someone like Pressley would likely answer: we already have been. And that perspective when given free rein in Congress could make for some interesting legislation in the years to come. But hopefully, if a Blue Wave does indeed swamp DC again, cooler heads will prevail. Still, it's hard to be optimistic on that front at this point.

Posted by AllardK at September 5, 2018 2:04 PM
Comment #431162

Blue wave? Probably. Trump’s poll numbers fell back into the 30’s, an extraordinarily low approval rating. The disapprovals are even worse. Expect a lot of talk about Medicare-for-all. It’s time.

Meanwhile, someone pulled the fire alarm from inside the Trump White House. In anonymous NYT op-ed, they called Trump amoral, unmoored, and anti-democratic. This came from a senior official, someone near the very top. It dovetails with the Woodward book. The ‘adults in the room’ are preventing Trump from endangering the country. That is not exactly reassuring.

Why now? Is something terrible about to take place? Tomorrow, I will be leaving the country for a bit. Just hope whatever happens is not as bad as it looks right now.

Posted by: phx8 at September 5, 2018 6:01 PM
Comment #431163

Have a safe trip phx8. Try to learn something about the greatness of America while you’re gone.

Taking your lead from an anonymous source in the NYT is simply lazy and will be ignored.

Posted by: Royal Flush at September 5, 2018 6:23 PM
Comment #431173

From the New York Times opinion section

The bigger concern is not what Mr. Trump has done to the presidency but rather what we as a nation have allowed him to do to us. We have sunk low with him and allowed our discourse to be stripped of civility.

Senator John McCain put it best in his farewell letter. All Americans should heed his words and break free of the tribalism trap, with the high aim of uniting through our shared values and love of this great nation.

We may no longer have Senator McCain. But we will always have his example — a lodestar for restoring honor to public life and our national dialogue. Mr. Trump may fear such honorable men, but we should revere them.

There is a quiet resistance within the administration of people choosing to put country first. But the real difference will be made by everyday citizens rising above politics, reaching across the aisle and resolving to shed the labels in favor of a single one: Americans.

The writer is a senior official in the Trump administration.

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