Politico has a piece this morning warning that Republicans are gambling by targeting three superstar freshman Democrats in the media. According to the piece, the GOP is now targeting Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez because the midterm strategy of linking every Democrat to Nancy Pelosi failed to keep the House in Republican control. “GOP leaders and the National Republican Congressional Committee are turning to the superstars of the House Democrats’ freshman class as their newest targets,” Politico explains, wanting us to believe the GOP does this at its own risk.
It’s a move born, in part, out of desperation. House Democrats already have their ultimate nemesis in President Donald Trump, who’s proven to be one of the best political and fundraising foils in U.S. history. House Republicans, who now find themselves in the minority after eight years in power, badly need something else to rally around. Thus the focus on the three high-profile Democratic lawmakers, who have gotten more national media attention in the past three months than many members get in their whole careers.
The NRCC has sent out thousands of emails trying to tie vulnerable Democrats to Ocasio-Cortez, Tlaib and Omar. And the committee’s website makes it appear as if these backbench members are running the House. While the NRCC still regularly bashes Pelosi, GOP lawmakers and aides privately acknowledge that Ocasio-Cortez, Tlaib and Omar are their main focus now.
“The GOP strategy risks a backlash — a party that has problems with women and minorities continues to focus its attacks on women of color — even as the freshman Democrats say they’re not surprised by it.
Naturally, these freshmen are playing up the idea they are targets because of their race and gender. “I think the fact that somebody like myself, who’s a woman of color, is now an equal to many of them — people are very fearful of that,” said Tlaib.
The article acknowledges, but fails to make the connection, that these women have made themselves targets. Ocasio-Cortez defeated an incumbent Democrat in her primary, signaling the party’s radical leftward shift. She was quickly elevated by the media as the face of the new Democratic Party: young, fresh, socialist, and not very bright. Tlaib declared shortly after being sworn in, in a video that went viral, “We’re gonna impeach the motherf—er!” making herself a symbol of the pro-impeachment movement. As for Omar, her blatant anti-Semitism is bringing the Democratic Party’s longstanding problems with bigotry to the forefront. This week alone, AOC’s Green New Deal and Omar’s anti-Semitism have damaged the Democratic Party’s image.
These three women aren’t above being criticized for their radical views and bigotry just because they happen to be women of color. But that’s where we are. You can’t criticize Obama, because if you do you’re a racist. You can’t criticize Hillary, otherwise you’re a sexist. You can’t criticize Ocasio-Cortez, Omar, or Tlaib, because then you’re a racist, a sexist, and a misogynist. NRCC executive director Parker Poling said in a statement, “Only in the minds of Washington, D.C. editors, reporters and pundits could calling out Democrats for racism, sexual assault and anti-Semitism be considered racist and misogynistic.”
The media is working overtime to protect the shining stars of the Democratic Party by using race and gender as shields. Are we supposed to sit back and ignore anti-Semitism just because a woman of color is guilty of it? Are we supposed to sit back and ignore a laughable, big government environmental proposal just because a woman of color proposed it? Are we supposed to sit back and ignore it when a newly sworn-in member of Congress shouts, “We’re gonna impeach the motherf—er!” just because a woman of color said it?
Politico fails to acknowledge that the media is largely responsible for giving these women a high profile in the first place. The media may have chosen to make them stars because of their skin color and gender, but the GOP only made them targets because the media gave them each a national profile. The media made these women the face of the Democratic Party’s future.
The Republican Party shouldn’t be shamed into holding back on criticizing AOC, Omar, or Tlaib. That Politico is even “warning” Republicans that they could experience backlash is just an acknowledgment that the strategy is working. Like it or not, these three represent the direction the Democratic Party is headed ideologically… and it ain’t pretty.
Matt Margolis is the author of The Scandalous Presidency of Barack Obama and the bestselling The Worst President in History: The Legacy of Barack Obama. His new book, Trumping Obama: How President Trump Saved Us From Barack Obama’s Legacy, will be published in 2019. You can follow Matt on Twitter @MattMargolis