24 July

One Man’s Truth: AOC, Moms, Women Mayor’s. It’s On

by Jon Katz

I don’t think anyone, but angry old white men, Fox News anchors (and viewers), cable pundits, and Donald Trump and his family could have possibly missed it.

The biggest story of this election year is about women, who are now busy all over America, neutering their angry white male opponents,  confronting Trumpism, and battling the Last Stand Of the Angry White Man all across the country.

The Founding Fathers could not have possibly imagined who, in America centuries after the revolution, would turn out to be the heroes saving it.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Black Women Mayors. Black Lives Matter founders and female Governors, teachers, and nurses, and the Portland Moms are the big runaway story in this year’s Presidential Election.

If you despair about the outcome of our election or the future of our country, wake up and pay attention. It’s here.

The long-smoldering Women’s Revolution is on, and it’s transforming our national consciousness and politics.

Newly empowered and powerful women are on the front lines of this cultural conflict between increasingly displaced white men and their successors. When all is said and done, this is what Trumpism turns out to be about – aggrieved white men fighting for their place in the sun.

They want to be on top.

And the women are fighting fierce and increasingly successful battles.

They are creating their own radically different narrative, a revolution that seeks to make America kindler,  gentler, and more humane, less racist, and less violent.

Together, they are forming one of the most potent political coalitions in American history. The women in politics argue for making guns unavailable to children, rather than just throwing more of them in jail.

They are defying a president, transforming policing, confronting the courts,  fending off soldiers, protecting students, and shaming a member of Congress right on the floor of the House of Representatives.

Ocasio-Cortez electrified women all over the country yesterday (more than six million views on Twitter alone) with a historic and persuasive speech shaming the latest Old White Man Boor Poster Boy U.S. Rep Ted Yoho.

Yoho refused to apologize for insulting Ocasio-Cortez profanely and without provocation; he pointed out that he had a wife and two daughters instead of apologizing.

Her response was as close to a political dismemberment and execution as a speech can get, Clarence Darrow was smiling from above.

When Yoho (rhymes with yahoo) called Cortez a “dumb bitch” in front of a reporter because she dared to suggest that poverty is a cause of crime, Cortez stood up before her colleagues and said, voice shaking, “I am someone’s daughter, too” the whole country gasped.

We have in Cortez a new national political leader for the women’s movement, and she is tough, smart, and passionate. I hope I live long enough to see where she goes with it over time.

As a former TV producer, I can say with confidence that the camera loves her, being that telegenic is a prized trait in American politics. She has credibility and poise that is the most precious gift in a political campaign.

While the President kept repeating “Person, woman, man, camera, TV,” all week to show how well he did on his mysterious cognitive test and how smart he is, Cortez gave perhaps the most powerful speech on behalf of women and their cruel and demeaning treatment by powerful men that I’ve ever seen or heard.

When she pointed out to her shell-shocked fellow congressmen and women that having children “does not make a man decent,” I could almost feel women all over the country sharing her video with friends. The Internet kind of rumbled.

You can’t tell me that this new generation of vibrant and outspoken women and Donald Trump are a part of the same future for America.

If Trump looked any more tired or ineffective, he could easily stand on the ruins of one of those confederate statues, get sprayed with concrete, and replace the lost statue with his body without moving a muscle.

After ranting about the governor of North Carolina for weeks for insisting on safety procedures for the Republican Convention, Trump pulled out in a huff and went to Jacksonville instead.

Yesterday, without apology or much explanation, he said the same thing the governor of North Carolina said: this isn’t the right time for a crowded convention.

In one sense, Cortez’s speech was a call to arms. I think just about every woman in America heard it. Enough is enough.

For me, it crystallized all the other things beginning to come together in this campaign.

Trump does not have a chance, Cortez had more electric energy in that speech that Donald Trump has shown in all of his transparently dishonest and bumbling press conferences.

I have learned this about my country in recent years:

Every African-American person I have ever spoken with tells of uncomfortable, frightening, unwarranted contacts with the police, whoever they were, whatever they do, wherever they live. The videos we now can see tell a horrific tale of murder, racism, fear, and social pathology.

Black Lives Matter deserves the credit for showing us that what black people have been saying for so long is true. There is a lot of racism in America.

Every woman I have known, loved, lived with, or met – everyone – tells stories of being trivialized, patronized, harassed, de-humanized, or physically and verbally assaulted or insulted by men.

The man are mostly white men.

When Tarana Burke founded the Me Too Movement, she began dismantling the shield that had protected so many men from the consequences of their mistreatment of women.

Harvey Weinstein is in jail now, that is about as powerful a message as powerful men can get.

When Patrisse Khan-Cullors and Alicia Garza founded Black Lives Matter in 2013, the group was reviled by Presidents, Republicans, Senators, and Congressmen; they were the worst nightmare of the Angry Old White Men who saw the danger they presented right away.

Today, Black Lives Matter is the largest social movement in the history of America.

It is worth noting that Burke, Khan-Cullors, and Garza are all women of color.

In Portland, hundreds, perhaps thousands of mothers challenged the militarized police force that invaded their city, de-stabilized it.

They arrogantly swept the city in unmarked vans swooping up protestors and “anarchists” in a profoundly stupid and ill-considered imitation of Banana Republic dictators.

There were so many better ways to do their work than that.

They could have told the public what they needed to do, talked to the mayor and governor and local police. They could have worked with them, not sought to overthrow them.

They could have left behind their Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle combat suits instead of looking like zombies from Hell.

They might have figured out that while seizing people off the street might work when dealing with helpless undocumented immigrants; it’s not going to fly with wealthy white kids and their Super Moms.

Americans don’t like to see their moms gassed and hit with batons.

“You are not going to snatch my boy off the street for no reason and scare the hell out of him,” one mom told a reporter.

And so they stopped. No one else was able to do it, and nobody died so far.

Thanks to the moms, the beleaguered palace guard of the President stays behind their fence all day and night now unless the protesters get too close.

Then, they come out with tear gas and rubber bullets and chase off the offenders. After they leave, they retreat inside and stay there.

The moms seemed to have put a stop to the Presidents’ plans to”dominate” cities run by Democratic mayors – another stupid thing to say even if it’s true – with federal agents gathered and militarized from different Homeland Security police agencies.

President Trump doesn’t seem to know that by singling out Democratic Mayors, he was revealing the political motivations behind his lastest unworkable and impossible disaster – just like Tulsa and Jacksonville.

Those comments will be read in court.

The media and many progressives wet themselves in fear of his skill and power, but every day, he looks more and more like a loser. Fame and glory are powerful but fragile things in America, when the bubble bursts, it bursts.

Then there are the powerhouse black female mayors – Lori Lightfoot in Chicago, Muriel Bowser in Washington.

When Trump used his palace guard to drive protesters away from the White House, Mayor Bowser showed up the next morning with city crews to name the plaza “Black Lives Matter Plaza” and to paint a giant “Black Lives Matter” sign on the street in sight of the White House.

Bowser said she came to help paint the street, wearing her “mommy clothes.”

Her predecessors would never have dared to do that or say that. Can you imagine the uproar of Hilary Clinton had ever said the word “bitch” while campaigning?

The governor of Georgia is suing Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms for daring to require the people of her city to wear masks to protect the people in the city from the coronavirus.

A loyal supporter of the President, Gov. Kemp has, reporters say, become obsessed with Bottoms and her defiance of his refusal to require masks.

She is on Joe Biden’s shortlist as a vice-presidential possibility.

Mayor Lightfoot told Trump there is no way federal combat officers could come into her city and roam around looking for people to arrest.

The Attorney General promptly announced that only federal agents in civilian clothes would come to work with local police to combat drugs and gun violence.

If they stuck to that, she said they could come.

These women are extraordinary.

They are fearless and practical. These mayors have formed a group, they talk to each other often and try to support each other.

They are also not afraid to show empathy and compassion. It is easy to tear up when Lightwood or Bowser talks about the victims of crime or the coronavirus. The combination of empathy and toughness is what makes them so powerful and effective.

Trump lacks either.

There are also the teachers and nurses all over the country – most of them women – fighting off government demands that every school in the country open up every day, regardless of the coronavirus in their communities.

The teachers won – each school in each state will make its own decision about what is healthy and what is not.

I didn’t see a lot of male politicians standing up for the children or their frightened teachers.

For any political movement to succeed, its proponents must reach beyond themselves and their interests and connect with other groups of people.

Women form relationships more easily than men, then work with one another better than men, and even if they are tough when they need to be tough, they often seem to remember their humanity – to remind us that they feel the pain of others.

Trump’s insistence on Stalinist loyalty has driven the best thinkers and strategists out of the Republic Party and left it with what I call The Worst Of The White Men.

I don’t mean to generalize, but the new characteristics of the new Republican Party are grievance, rage, and an unwillingness to co-operate or compromise – the worship at the feet of their master.

There are a lot of Yoho’s in the Republican Party now; each one will cost them dearly.

There is a meanness about the party that is offensive and off-putting. When 200 Democrats stood up to vote for their Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, Ocosia- Cortez was the only one booed by almost every single Republican legislator.

Really, is her passion for the environment and the poor in her district a crime, an offense, to the Republican Party? Has she harmed the country in any way to deserve such hostility and cruelty?

They will pay for that, her intelligence and good heart will carry her a lot farther than the men who booed her or cursed her will go. She is a big spirit, theirs is small.

I feel especially bleak about the future of the party when, added to these other problems, their primary loyalty is to Donald Trump, not the country or the constitution.

Given that, these women will roll right over them, as is beginning to happen. There is such a thing as the inevitability of movements when they get big enough.

This step of the Woman’s Revolution is big and moving quickly.

For all the grief around it, the partial success of the civil rights movement was inevitable. Gay rights and marriage were inevitable. So are transgender rights.

Women’s control over their reproductive lives is inevitable. So is some form of limited gun control.

In America, it takes time for these movements to coalesce and win over other people. That is happening right now with women and their politics.

It has been building for decades, it has been and will continue to be challenging in many ways, but it is also inevitable, and I believe it will show its promise and power in November, if not every day before.

Just look at all of these women and the change they are bringing and the battles they are winning.

“Women used to fight all the time,” a political scientist wrote recently, “but they never won. They are winning now.”

Donald Trump is not winning now.

He is losing every single battle on almost every single front in this political campaign.

He is losing energy, momentum, and support every day.

The party now has come to stand for nothing much but the protection of corporate instincts and hatred for every other emerging social group – Me Too, Black Lives Matter, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. They are the party of 1850.

Agree with her or not, Ocasio-Cortez and the moms and the other women are the party not only of the future but of right now.

Just look at the news.

The best and most innovative people in the conservative movement and Republic Party have all fled to academe, private law practices or think tanks.

That is a tragedy for American politics. The country needs a two-party system that can work together when necessary, and Trump has nearly destroyed that convention.

These women are spearheading the new consciousness that will inevitably roll over these Old White Dinosaurs and begin the effort to heal and retake the country.

Yesterday, a woman messaged me to complain about my praise for women who curse, fight with the police, disrespect the Presidents, march to support protesters and cheer on riots and chaos.

I recommended a favorite book of mine about the American Revolution.

It described how the people we now call patriots – then called thugs and rioting mobs by the British – burned down the businesses and homes of almost every loyalist in Boston after the British passed laws that permitted soldiers to enter any house they wanted for food and shelter.

They marched, burned, and vandalized their way across the colonies.

We call them heroes today, not thugs, and that is because they won.

The winners do get to write the history. I feel like I’m watching a new kind of hero now every day now. And almost all of them are women.

22 Comments

  1. You are one of the relatively few men who “gets it”. Thank you for your voice. I’m a 61 year old woman. You’re right, this has been coming for a long time.

  2. Thank you. My 28 year old daughter and I have just had a long discussion. You are articulating my views, my fears and my frustrations. I read this aloud to her. Thank you…you are making me excited about the future!

  3. WOW!! All your commentary has been spot on, but this piece is certainly among the best!! My youngest daughter reminds me of the ideals of AOC. She has always stood up for herself and doesn’t take BS or disrespect from anyone. I believe it’s women’s time. Either work with the new strength women have found, or get out of the way. I don’t think we will be going back!

  4. Thank you for brightening up my day. I hope that you are right about these movements having the needed momentum to force change.

  5. Yoho used “God, my family, and my country” to distract from what he did. It is the typical deflection from the real victim (AOC) to make himself the victim. AOC is awesome.

  6. Hi, I do not usually write much, I am usually a quiet reader who looks forward to your posts. Thank you for writing what I think to be an exceptional essay on this topic.

  7. As a fellow old white guy, I completely agree with your take on this. AOC, in a 9 minute speech, nailed the issue and nailed Rep. Yahoo for the jerk he is. Every woman I know – every single one – has experienced crap like this. It’s past time for us old (and young) white guys to speak up and call out the jerks as they mouth their abuse. It’s our problem to solve.

  8. I have always been an AOC fan. I believe that more women in politics and positions of leadership is generally a great thing. Of course, there are always a couple of bad apples, such is life. Overall, your post was encouraging.

    Just one remark that I am having troubling getting past: You state that “Donald Trump is not winning now.” I understand your point but here is mine.

    Most did not take him seriously when he ran for office. He is now our President

    As President, he is destroying who we are with endless tiny papercuts across the board, Lies on top of lies, roll backs, new legislation, unqualified loyalist “acting” appointments to positions of power, firing anyone that gets in his way, gleefully and openly attacking anyone he does not like with no apologies, self congratulations, and his own growing military of federal troops, not to mention his huge culpability in the 1000+ Americans that are dying of COVID19 daily. We all know that he has no empathy and no consciousness beyond what he wants. He may play and be a fool but the machine that is behind and driving him is strong.

    As more troops are threatened and/or arriving in more Democratic cities daily, please don’t ever under estimate Donald Trump and the forces behind him.

    We made the mistake before. The consequences of making that mistake again are dire.

  9. Thank you for the clear message. I’m sitting here, sobbing, because I’m proud AND mad as hell. How dare ANY WOMAN discount a hero because she cursed! I’m 64 and a member of the #MeToo club, and was silent because look what happened to those brave women that spoke up! We have an inner rage, and it’s going to be unleashed. Lead, follow, or get the F*CK out of the way.

  10. Teddy Roosevelt said “Patriotism means standing for your country. It does not mean standard for your President. ” I wish the GOP would understand that.

  11. Superb! Many thanks! Your blog is so good in so many ways! it must be a lot of work…please keep it up!

    “B”

  12. Good comparison of the Black Lives Matter Movement and the Me Too Movement. Every woman and black person has a story to tell about how there’s been a “knee on their neck” because of their race or sex. Decent people have know this is wrong. It would help if more of the decent old white guys spoke about these injustices. Thanks Jon, we need more like you to step up to the plate .

  13. I watched and listened to AOC in the privacy of my home and clapped and cheered! I havent paid much attention to her until now, but oh boy, she’ll be on my watch and support list in the future. Bless her and you Jon for recognizing the values she and all women present.

  14. Excellent and a man’s perspective is so appreciated. I am an old white woman who has been working at the grass-roots level since I was a teenager. I was abused, hated, threatened and disregarded as if I was trash, and that was mostly because I am a woman, and then a liberal. AOC spoke beautifully and sang the song of a sisterhood that reaches from sea to shining sea. Thank you for your insight and words of inspiration. We will overcome the evil that is sitting in our White House one person, one vote, one step at a time.

    1. Thanks Vicki, beautiful message///I love the idea of the song of a sisterhood..makes me want to be a woman…

  15. Jon, I tried to sign up to follow your blog, but it keeps telling me I need to enter a valid email address. It is a valid email address! If there is a way you can add me on I’d appreciate it.
    Emilie

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