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Why Mallory McMorrow provides a blueprint for Democrats
The Michigan state senator rightly seized back the moral high ground from extremist Republicans, and exposed their twisted antics
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A video clip of a floor speech by Democratic state senator Mallory McMorrow electrified Democrats, defenders of equality and progressives this week when she blasted a Republican colleague for accusing her, by name of “grooming and sexualizing children” in a fundraising email.
The clip of the young suburban mother who represents Royal Oak, just outside Detroit, went viral on social media and was played over and over on radio and cable TV news. McMorrow delivered the speech with passion and pride. Then she sent it out on social media so that we could all be energized.
But McMorrow didn’t just stand up to Republican senator Lana Theis and lambaste her for vile attacks — in a way we’ve all been urging Democrats in Congress and nationwide to do. She also ripped back the narratives the GOP stole, and the ones they twisted, about what Democrats stand for and what they are proud about.
Without even saying it specifically, McMorrow took a sledgehammer to attacks by the GOP on Democrats for being “woke,” as Greg Sargent emphasized in the Washington Post. We have allowed Republicans to take a term that emanated from within the Black community — a word that meant being involved, energized, enlightened and, yes, awake to what’s going on — and turn it into a pejorative.
Rather than fight back, many Democrats ran away, and some even began saying other Democrats were “too woke” and needed to tone down the “wokeness”, as this Vox piece from 2021 shows:
“Wokeness is a problem,” [James Carville] told me, “and we all know it.” According to Carville, Democrats are in power for now, but they also only narrowly defeated Donald Trump, “a world-historical buffoon,” and they lost congressional seats and failed to pick up state legislatures. The reason is simple: They’ve got a “messaging problem.”
No, being enlightened and standing up for equality is not the problem. The problem is allowing Republicans to turn that into a thing that is about oppressing them, rather than calling it the “nonsense” McMorrow called it. We allowed Republican politicians like Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida to actually pass an “anti-woke” bill — that’s how much Republicans distorted these issues — aimed at refraining from teaching about slavery and racism if it makes white kids feel “discomfort.”
McMorrow provided a blueprint not for hitting back itself, but for doing it in a way that rightly rips the moral high ground back. She was enraged that standing up for justice and equality had her being called a “groomer” who was sexualizing children — with the attacks made in the name of Christianity — while she is a Christian suburban mom who cares deeply about children and her faith. And she said so.
McMorrow pointed to the hypocrisy of these so-called Christians in the GOP who wear their Christianity on their “Twitter bio” but operate in ways that are anything but exemplifying of Christian values, attacking children and demonizing people who are doing good deeds.
She told it like it is, pointing to how the roads are in bad shape and the cost of health care is too high, and “hateful people” in politics are trying not to deal with those issues by changing the subject to target minorities. And what she said was clear and irrefutable:
I want every child in this state to feel seen, heard and supported, not marginalized and targeted because they are not straight, white and Christian. We cannot let hateful people tell you otherwise to scapegoat and deflect from the fact that they are not doing anything to fix the real issues that impact people’s lives. And I know that hate will only win if people like me stand by and let it happen.
McMorrow, in that statement, didn’t just smash vile narratives put forth by the GOP; she warned all Democrats that ignoring the GOP attacks — as we’ve seen several Democratic leaders express is largely their strategy — comes at a high cost.
McMorrow incinerated the GOP with her speech, but she also gave a kick in the pants to Democrats. They now need to follow her lead, rather than running for cover from the GOP.
Everything the GOP is pushing is wildly unpopular with the American people — including their trying to turn all that Democrats stand for into something bad. The only response is to embrace the attacks, and then proudly hit back with ferocity.