Did you ever notice, there always seem to be rules for newbies. Sit up straight. Chew with your mouth shut. Raise your hand to be called upon. Respect your elders. Do what you’re told.
The freshman class of 2018 in the Democratic House is a lot like JFK winning the presidency. When the Kennedy’s moved in, it was the first time that there were actual kids living in the White House that anybody could remember. And they brought an air of spontaneity, charm, and fun with them.
The Democratic freshman class of 2018 is bringing all of that, but they are also doing it with the teeth of a pit bull. In their first two months in office, these kid are changing the very face of the House, and they’re doing it in the best of ways, by following through on the agenda they were elected to carry out.
When Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez went bold with her “Green New Deal,” she was smart enough to “marry up” with senior Democratic Senator Ed Markey for the announcement, giving the proposal re gravitas than it would have received if she had just announced it from the well of the House. And Markey himself benefited, from being publicly associated with the younger, progressive rising star.
But nowhere i the radical transformation that these fledgling Democratic lawmakers have brought been more apparent, or more dramatic, than in House hearing rooms. Freshman committee members like Ocasio-Cortez, Katie Porter, and Raja Krishnamoorthi are tearing into the GOP witnesses like piranhas on a sacrificial cow.
Let’s be clear. Administration slugs like Kirstjen Nielsen, Wilbur Ross, and Steve Munchkin walked into those hearing rooms knowing that they were in newly unfriendly territory. But their expectations were more likely that Democratic members would spend their 5 minutes making self serving speeches, and calling them lazy, incompetent, and corrupt.
Instead, these witnesses are being skewered with pointed, educated, well thought out questions, with little of no preamble, and worse yet, are being expected to actually answer these death bomb questions, which they are obviously loathe to do. And worse yet,some of their more senior compatriots are starting to join in on the GOP pinata game.
There is a good reason why these new members are showing up at hearings loaded for bear They didn’t come to Washington for the power, they didn’t come for the money, and considering how many women new members there are, they sure as hell didn’t come for the chicks. They came to do a job, and they’re going to do it.
There is another reason why these freshman are so well prepared. In his 80’s book Parliament of Whores,conservative pundit and author PJ O’Rourke found in following a GOP House incumbent around for a day, that GOP incumbents were required to spend a minimum of 3 hours a day fundraising from their desk. These new Democrats are not beholden to big money special interests, they were elected with mall donor, local, grassroots activism and enthusiasm. And the more these newbies can get sound bites from these hearings on their local news at night, the more impressed their constituents will be with the quality of their representation.
This bodes well for 2020. Because these Democrats constituents aren’t the only ones who are going to be seeing their effective work on TV. The more important hearings will get more national coverage, and constituents in GOP held seats will see congress critters actually doing something more than just hitting them up for cash in an e-mail blast. And they’re going to start looking at their options when 2020 comes around.
If you want to see some of these new kids in action, try checking out Lawrence IO’Donnell at 7 pm PDT every night He is taking great pleasure in airing snippets of these young guns putting another notch on their grip every tie you turn around. Now, this is the way that politics was meant to be played.