Concerning the world of American politics I admit to being a bit of a newbie. Actually, and to be completely honest, I began this journey down the rabbit hole writing about the chaos and division threatening the land down yonder where I was born without a clear understanding of the system, so I’ve been learning about how they do things, what things they can do, should do, may do, have done.
Canadians have always looked south with a fair helping of, em, shock and awe, loathing and affection, confusion and camaraderie. Very much like the American cousin we don’t quite understand, find a tad brash and loud, boastful and greedy, but their family, so what can ya do?
Perhaps it is our fate, as peacekeepers, but regardless of what we may think, most Canadians I believe would say we have their back, if needed. We took in plane loads of diverted Americans during 9/11 on our east coast when the airports were closed. Afterwards, we went with them to Afghanistan, yet declined to go into Iraq as we, well, I guess saw it for what it was, which was Bush jr’s warmongering greed to finish what his father had failed to.
If anything, if nothing more, the election of Trump has inspired me, to learn more about what really makes the land tick, and has changed my citizenship to more than just a passport I carry, but a recognition that just watching as the America I thought I knew stumbles and divides is something I can not do. Hope springs eternal, and I believe that just one more mighty pen, or keyboard, adds to those voices of reason calling for change, calling for accountability, calling for those lawmakers in Washington D.C. to do their jobs, and not just pander to the highest bidder.
So when dad was visiting a couple weeks ago, when my sister and I got into a discussion late in the evening/morning concerning Trump, and when she, I know, parroted to me the words she heard from our fathers mouth, that he had heard from some Fox pundits mouth, concerning the crazy democrats, my first thought was that I had somehow failed – because she reads my blog, and if she thinks these things, I have been maybe just been ranting and raving, and not speaking my truth.
So for a few days I just sat and watched the light, and thought, and thought so more, and watched the light some more, and stepped back a pace or two to more clearly see what the heck I wanted to accomplish. You know, beyond just the joy I get from writing, the desire I have to write, how it makes me feel when I write, beyond that, what am I trying to achieve?
You know, honestly, my hackles kinda went up. But I did realize those words I had spoken myself, of crazy American politics, of the loco for coco puffs corrupt politicians of Washington, well, it really irritated me because the difference now is that I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that those words are just plain not true.
I told her at the time, simply, look to the freshly minted, the new members of congress, that blue wave of freshmen lawmakers, a congress that for the first time in American history more closely reflects the citizenship itself, their skin colour, their religions, their voices, their concerns, their spirit.
These new members don’t come to the hearings put before them and just trot out pretty speeches to find favour with their constituents – they do their homework, they ask the hard questions in their 5 minutes of time they are given during whatever hearing they take part in.
The voice of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez comes to mind, with her long dark hair pulled back, red lipstick on, pulls out her weapon of words, asks the hard questions, pulls no punches, strikes right to the heart of it, and we watch her in awe, as do her peers in the House of Representatives, watching as she represents.
With her words she strikes fear into the heart of the republican members of the house, and the GOP at large, as her fire and fury, her strength and conviction, is unlike those others who have come before her, unlike many of those others who have walked those storied halls for years before she arrived – she doesn’t just call it in, write a pretty speech and collect her pay cheque.
She is not alone though. That freshmen class that came in with that blue wave in 2018, within that group are many like her, not just there to show up and give a speech, but to roll up their sleeves, do the homework, and do the job for which they were elected to do.
I have watched since November 2016, in those agonizing hours after that incompetent reality show host was elected, watched as American’s woke up to what their fellow countrymen had done, watched with them in shock as day after day of his presidency he proved himself even more unqualified for the role to which he was elected.
He lit a spark though, just not the spark maybe his voters thought they lit. He kindled the part of the American spirit that brought many of their ancestors to those shores, lit by an inner fortitude to protect and defend that liberty that stands as sentinel in New York City harbour.
So, inspired by a piece I watched on MSNBC by Lawrence O’Donnell this morning, I decided to dig in, to see who some of these new lawmakers are, where they come from, what they have to say, what THEIR stories are.
We do get caught up in the daily chaos du jour, lost in articulating our disgust, and become distracted into seeing the things actually happening, in the hearing rooms, quietly sometimes, as the engine of the American government steams along, and who are some of these new conductors, these freshmen congress members?
So, for those who don’t know, the congress is made up of two houses, one of those is the House of Representatives;
The House of Representatives shares equal responsibility for lawmaking with the U.S. Senate. As conceived by the framers of the Constitution, the House was to represent the popular will, and its members were to be directly elected by the people.Encyclopaedia Britannia
Rep. Katie Porter, a Democrat representing the 45th district, is actually the first Democrat to do so since its creation in 1953. She took no corporate PAC money, and is interested in changing campaign finance law, voting rights and tax fairness.
Before coming to Congress, Rep. Porter spent nearly two decades taking on the special interests that dominate American politics and drown out the voices of working families. In 2012, she was appointed by then Attorney General Kamala Harris to be California’s independent watchdog against the banks. Rep. Porter made sure the big banks that had cheated Orange County homeowners followed through on their promise to help affected families get back on their feet. As a consumer finance expert, she also helped Congress pass the original Credit CARD Act in 2009, which enacted federal protections from abusive credit card fees.
It was actually her feature on O’Donnell that inspired me to finally sit down and look into whom some of these new lawmakers are, what they stood for and against, what they have to say, and what some of their stories tell me about Americans.
You know, being brought up in Canada, my Americanism is in some ways merely words, that I have little connection to – well, other than a factoid I take some delight in sharing with people just after they’ve said some disparaging thing about American’s.
As much as the two countries to an outsider may have much in common, we have much that is different, other than maybe that saying sorry rarely comes easily to an American tongue, whereas most Canadians say it without even thinking, and often. I even once had a manager who was Swedish and had been here for over a decade, after I tripped going up the stairs she said sorry, and goes “dear god, I’m becoming Canadian” – and, she had nothing to do with me tripping, I’m perfectly capable of tripping on the floor in a flat room with no obstacles all on my own.
Americans when they travel can be somewhat, em, perhaps we can say bossy, and often don’t like to go places without all the amenities and fast food joints they crave, and therefore when Canadians travel we hunt out those places they won’t go and make our travel plans accordingly.
As soon as you cross the border everything is supersized, of drinks and food portions that would feed a small 3rd world country for a week. They also tend to be oblivious to, for instance, the fact they can not just freely carry their cute little handgun in their purse over the border to Canada, as my dad found out the first time he brought MsB here to meet us all.
American’s are more than just supersized drinks and brash and bossy travellers, they are strong-willed, fair-minded, fighting for equality and freedom of speech, and historically defined a new democracy that has influenced many nations around the world.
New representatives in the house, such as Sharice Davids representing the 3rd district of Kansas, in the 2018 Democratic sweep became one of the first two Native American Women to serve in Congress. She is one of those new type of lawmakers, a new more inclusive type, motivated more by values than vanity, striving to give American’s MORE, not take things away, and in the process helping to ensure that all Americans have the opportunity to succeed.
Rep. Davids wants others to have the same opportunities to achieve their goals, which is why she has centered her career on bringing more opportunities to the middle class. In Congress, Rep. Davids is putting Kansans first, working to limit the influence of special interests and fighting to make health care more affordable and accessible to everyone.
Another of those loud American voices, one who plans to resist attempts to divide us and push destructive policies that chip away at our rights and freedoms—and to build a more inclusive and compassionate culture, one that will allow our economy to flourish and encourage more Americans to participate in our democracy.
Representative Ilhan Omar, is one of two of the first Muslim-American women elected to congress in 2018, and has made her viewpoints known, to criticism from the frantic republican machine. Already she has had death threats, with much hate levelled toward her merely for her religion, and the things she is willing to say, truths she feels need to be heard.
Twice already, Omar has been accused of trafficking in anti-Semitic tropes ― once, after she tweeted “It’s all about the Benjamins baby” in reference to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who seemed to be considering reprimanding her and fellow Muslim congresswoman Rashida Tlaib over their support of an Israeli boycott movement. It happened again when she questioned the “political influence in this country that says it is OK for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country,” by which she meant Israel. A 2012 tweet in which Omar said “Israel has hypnotized the world” also resurfaced.The Huffington Post | Ilhan Omar Won’t Be Quiet | by Maxwell Strachan 05/06/2019
I have to say I do like her, and unlike that American stereotype I have, she does say sorry, and apologized for her Benjamin tweet.
Further I admire her humility, and that she went the distance to clarify her words, and for admitting that she is not perfect, but is willing to learn (unlike that 45th commander of know-nothing that resides in the White House).
“Anti-Semitism is real and I am grateful for Jewish allies and colleagues who are educating me on the painful history of anti-Semitic tropes,” Omar said. “My intention is never to offend my constituents or Jewish Americans as a whole. We have to always be willing to step back and think through criticism, just as I expect people to hear me when others attack me for my identity. This is why I unequivocally apologize.”IBID
These are some of the new Democrats I wanted to tell my sister about, they are not the same as those of yesteryear, not the old guard with their corporate super pac’s and bags of gold gathered from big pharma and oil giants, sitting in their committee seats, saying pretty words for the voters back home. They are not from the elitist set, and most did not even set out to be politicians, but instead arrived there unexpectedly, with a voice and message, a calling as it were, to serve and protect Americans rights and freedoms, and be another of those bright lights fighting for a better future for the many.
All of them are refreshing and contribute in no small way, each offers a bit of compassion and illumination within the dark chaos and corruption that currently feeds that greedy cruel 45th president. They are offering hope, and not feeding at the trough of greed and self-serving fear-mongering that has overtaken the republican party like some kind of cancer.
Each in their own way also help to influence those future lawmakers, allowing all those disenfranchised in the wild who would never otherwise of thought they could, oh, I don’t know, run for congress, run for president.
Whether once bartenders or lawyers, all helping carve the future, a more inclusive America, a hopefully kinder American, compassionate, and perhaps more who serve their country, and not the interests of foreign powers and rich corporations looking to fill their own pockets. Just sayin’.