I’m in tears watching this. And I wish you a November night that feels *even better* than watching this.

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.

Website: Rashida Tlaib for Congress
Twitter: @RashidaTlaib

Featured photo: Jeremy Moorhead, CNN


Comments (5)

  1. Douglas John Bowen

    I’m always a bit uncomfortable with people — let alone politicians — draping themselves with this or that flag. Even an American flag (per our current sorry excuse for a President). Beyond that, good for Ms. Tlaib.

    1. Rosi Efthim (Post author)

      I can understand that, Douglas. And to be frank, I had to double-check what flag it was. Her mom is the one who put it on her, and it looked to me like either she gently pulled it off after a few seconds or it came off in all the moving around. I don’t think though that it’s because she distances herself from her heritage – she talks about it freely. I just think she wants to be clear that she’s more focused on her constituents and who they are than who she is. That’s my read, anyway.

  2. Bertin Lefkovic

    It is especially important to note that Tlaib also endorsed by J Street. Following is a very interesting article about the treacherous political terrain in her district that Tlaib has appeared to be able to navigate quite deftly.


    What is truly interesting about her victory is that it was in a district that is 70% African-American. Could anyone imagine someone who is not African-American, not beholden to the Essex County political machine, and doesn’t have the last name Payne winning a primary election in LD10?

    I wonder what it is like to live in a state that has a functioning democracy.

    1. Rosi Efthim (Post author)

      Oh yeah, Bertin. So do I. I haven’t lived in Michigan for a few years now – I spent two long chunks of my life living there, as a kid and college student, then as an adult – but my take on it was always that it was (a) much, much more progressive than New Jersey is, or I should say that it’s progressives are more progressive and it’s Democrats are more small-d democratic and (b) that leadership was much more fluid and the powers that be much less afraid of the bigger powers that be than Democrats are here.

      1. Bertin Lefkovic

        Until I am provided with an example otherwise, I am going to continue to argue that NJ’s democratic process is the most dysfunctional in the country.

        While I most certainly appreciate the fact that it is for the most part a Democratic state, the concentrations of Democrats and Republicans, the gerrymandering of districts on behalf of incumbents of both parties, and the lack of competitive primary elections make it very hard to call our elections democratic, fair, or free.

        I will take it over Texas or any number of red states, particularly those crimson red ones out west, but when you consider how little our Democrats are actually willing and able to accomplish once elected is truly frustrating.

        And if Menendez somehow loses to Hugin and November and costs us the Senate, it will be downright embarrassing.


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