I’m in tears. Rashida Tlaib will be the first Muslim woman in Congress. And I can’t stop watching this moment.
I didn’t have anything to do with Rashida Tlaib’s race. But she won her primary from right near where I grew up in Michigan. And MI-13 is solid blue; absent catastrophe, she’s going to Congress. And not just breaking ground as a Muslim woman, she’s bedrock progressive. Endorsed by Democracy for America (DFA), Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC – and so’s NJ’s Andy Kim), Progressive Democrats of America (PDA). And from this, and from the rejoicing I’m reading today from Michigan, it’s clear that people of many backgrounds there are proud to claim her, in a way that reminds me of all of New Jersey’s response when 101.5’s Dennis & Judi spent their show two weeks ago calling Attorney General Gurbir Grewal “Turban Man” throughout their show.
This video captures the moment (at 2:40) where a vol whispers in her ear that she’s won. Suddenly she’s in the center of a big group hug as the room is shouting RASHIDA RASHIDA! Everybody’s crying. Her mom drapes her in the Palestinian flag. And she introduces her mom, who lives in the West Bank, and tells everybody her Palestinian grandparents, uncles and aunts are glued to the TV in Palestine, up all night watching. “A lot of my strength comes from being Palestinian.” Wow, just wow.
To unmute, use the volume slider,lower right corner of the video. Victory is at 2:40 in video.
I went back and forth deciding to post this. Not our usual beat. And I’m a voter with very mixed feelings about identity politics, which this post might look like. On that: I think Congress, the White House, our statehouses and town councils should look like/be like the populations they serve. And where there are barriers to that common-sense obvious standard, they should be smashed – to smithereens, with enthusiasm. But where identity politics loses me, as practiced by some politicians, is the lazy pol’s idea that coming in the right package, the right color, gender, orientation, is your big easy path to victory. That includes white men who show up expecting success, and not having to work too hard for it. But it also includes the high-stakes candidacy of someone like Hillary Clinton, who said in debate she ‘obviously wasn’t establishment – because she’s a woman.’ And who sold that qualification pretty hard in a way that President Barack Obama never did. And the electoral hurdle to get a black man to the White House with people alive who witnessed lynching and current-day voter suppression still aimed at black people, is at least as tall (I’d argue taller) as the hurdle for a white woman, particularly a white woman who is already ruling class, already rich, already deferred to, and for decades. How a candidate speaks about who they are matters, and for sure that’s candidate-specific. Rashida Tlaib’s victory last night matters to her family, and how she talks about that gives me the weepies for sure. I believe what candidates stand for, and who they’ll be for their constituents matters more. Rashida seems to have both in hand. I’m pumped for Michigan’s 13th. And for all the people I know pouring their labors into Jersey midterm races: I wish you a November night that feels even better than it feels to watch this.
Featured photo: Jeremy Moorhead, CNN