If there’s one thing that pretty much everyone can agree on, it’s that Donald Trump and the Republicans desperately want “the squad” — the four freshman Democratic congresswomen who are known for being to the far left of their party, among other things — to be the new face of the party.
If you’re a member of said squad, this probably feels a bit insulting. I have no doubt that the four members of the group — Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan — legitimately believe their plan for America is more popular than polls show that it actually is. I have no doubt that they think that if they were the face of the Democratic Party, it would be better off.
However, I had assumed they had some self-awareness of the situation. I assumed they realized, at least right now, that a group of freshman lawmakers perceived as being far-left wasn’t what the party needed as it was going into the 2020 elections.
At least if the U.K. Guardian’s interview with Rashida Tlaib published Saturday is any indication, I assumed wrong.
Tlaib, a Palestinian-American, is fresh off of getting barred from Israel on a political trip and refusing to visit her relatives on a humanitarian visa, even though she’d specifically requested it to see her grandmother on what she said “could be my last opportunity to see her.”
Tlaib later explained she’d refused it because her grandmother told her she was “her free bird. So why would I come back and be caged and bow down?” Whatever:
Rep. Rashida Tlaib says she changed her mind on traveling to Israel with restrictions after speaking with her family, particularly her grandmother: “She said I’m her dream manifested, I’m her free bird, so why would I come back and be caged and bow down?” https://t.co/AtMFuaE5JJ pic.twitter.com/54Wj5axg7r
— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) August 19, 2019
Thus, I can only assume she was feeling pretty punchy when she talked to the Guardian and basically said that President Trump was focusing on “the squad” because he was deathly petrified of them.
“It’s been very clear to me, especially this last week, that he’s scared of us,” Tlaib said in the interview.
“He’s afraid of women of color … because we’re not afraid of him and we’re not afraid to speak up and say that we have a white supremacist in the White House who has a hate agenda.
“He’s afraid because we have a real agenda for the American people,” she continued.
“He can bring it,” she continued. “Because we actually have policies that came from the people. What he’s doing by choosing us four as his target is trying to distract folks from the fact that more people are living in poverty than ever, because he has failed as a president.”
Say what you will about Donald Trump’s behavior. If you think the infamous “go back” tweets were inappropriate, well, so did a lot of people. It’s not an uncommon reaction, even among conservatives.
However, everything he’s said about “the squad” — yes, including those tweets — is indicative of the fact he wants them to be the face of the Democrats as they go into 2020. No matter who the Democratic nominee is, Trump (and the rest of the GOP) wants to place the opposition against a backdrop of the Mount Rushmore of the new Democratic Party: Ocasio-Cortez, Omar, Pressley and Tlaib.
Sorry, I don’t buy Rep. Tlaib’s tears. I have watched her violence, craziness and, most importantly, WORDS, for far too long. Now tears? She hates Israel and all Jewish people. She is an anti-Semite. She and her 3 friends are the new face of the Democrat Party. Live with it!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 20, 2019
This has nothing to do with the fact that the congresswomen are women of color, as Tlaib would like to believe. This has everything to do with the fact that they represent everything about the Democrats that voters are uncomfortable with.
Here, for instance, are the results of an Emerson poll taken last month: “The Democratic House leadership is struggling with favorability among voters; Speaker Nancy Pelosi has a 28% favorable opinion and a 46% unfavorable opinion. The House ‘squad,’ consisting of Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, Illan Omar and Ayanna Pressley share this image problem. Ocasio-Cortez is at 30% favorable and 47% unfavorable, Tlaib is at 26% favorable and 42% unfavorable, Omar is at 25% favorable and 46% unfavorable, and Pressley is at 24% favorable and 35% unfavorable.”
That “the squad” is less underwater than Pelosi is could probably be explained by the fact that they’re managing, with some success, to drag her down.
And not only that, the de facto leader of “the squad” could end up dragging all Democrats down.
Another poll released last month to Axios but taken in May found that Ocasio-Cortez was toxic with key voters, voters who were crucial to the Democrats flipping Republican districts in 2018.
“The poll — taken in May, before Speaker Pelosi’s latest run-in with AOC and the three other liberal House freshmen known as ‘The Squad’ — included 1,003 likely general-election voters who are white and have two years or less of college education,” Axios reported. “These are the ‘white, non-college voters’ who embraced Donald Trump in 2016 but are needed by Democrats in swing House districts.”
They were not fond of AOC.
“Ocasio-Cortez was recognized by 74% of voters in the poll; 22% had a favorable view,” the poll found.
Oh, and an additional bonus: “Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota — another member of The Squad — was recognized by 53% of the voters; 9% (not a typo) had a favorable view.”
And that could be bad news for Democrats.
“If all voters hear about is AOC, it could put the [House] majority at risk,” an unidentified “top Democrat” told Axios. “[S]he’s getting all the news and defining everyone else’s races.”
“Socialism is toxic to these voters,” Axios stated.
Take that and add in Tlaib’s support for the anti-Semitic Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement, which is what got her barred from making that trip to Israel. Is this what we’re to believe President Trump is afraid of?
Rep. Tlaib believes that voters are convinced of the “real agenda for the American people” that “the squad” is putting forth, not that they need convincing. This is practically deadly to whatever momentum “the squad” has accrued; there’s no poll that finds them particularly popular nor does their plan resonate among the voters they need the most. What’s worse for the Democrats, these are the voters in swing states that whoever the Democrat nominee is needs the most.
The most important thing politicians can do is know themselves. At some point, “the squad” needs to realize just how toxic they really are to voters outside of their districts. Perhaps Tlaib does and didn’t want to give voice to that fact in an interview. However, if she really believes the things she told the Guardian, the Democrats are in a whole heap of trouble.
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