There is a sea change taking place in the Democratic Party right now. The last generation of politicians were obsessed with West Wing-style civility, and because of it, optics became the main thrust of Democratic politics over the last few decades. With the rise of progressives like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib, policy has ascended on the left, and a new generation is itching for a fight. This is embodied in Tlaib’s enthusiastic comment from last night that exposed many a fault line in the Democratic Party.
Congresswoman @RashidaTlaib tells cheering crowd that Trump impeachment coming
“We’re going to go in and impeach the motherfucker” pic.twitter.com/oQJYqR78IA— Jon Levine (@LevineJonathan) January 4, 2019
Trump won because he convinced people that he will fight for them. Democrats did not convince folks that they will go to the mat for their political priorities, and passion like this is a welcome development on the left. It's authentic and it's based off of real, coherent anger, as Tlaib wrote in the Detroit Free Press today:
We already have overwhelming evidence that the president has committed impeachable offenses, including, just to name a few: obstructing justice; violating the emoluments clause; abusing the pardon power; directing or seeking to direct law enforcement to prosecute political adversaries for improper purposes; advocating illegal violence and undermining equal protection of the laws; ordering the cruel and unconstitutional imprisonment of children and their families at the southern border; and conspiring to illegally influence the 2016 election through a series of hush money payments.
That said, plenty of centrists are pulling the standard “won't someone please think of the children!!!” routine, and are ignoring the substance of Tlaib's argument to focus on her curse word. Here is New Yorker columnist and chief civility scold, Jonathan Chait, summarizing the Very Serious People's concerns with this kind of brashness.
As anyone who is familiar with liberal Twitter knows, it didn't take long for a dunk contest to form above this tweet. Here are some of the best tweets going after civility scolds like Chait and other enablers in major media.
Honestly this is the perfect embodiment of the old TNR/DLC brainworm infection, where the most dangerous thing a Democrat could do is to say what they believe and suggest they might act on it— Tom Scocca (@tomscocca) January 4, 2019
a core premise of liberal anti-PC warriors like Chait is that Trump voters are a Hulk-like entity that is stirred into a white nationalist beast when liberals “go too far”; preemptive surrender to the bad faith racist gripe machine is very on brand— Adam H. Johnson (@adamjohnsonNYC) January 4, 2019
One thing we have the power to do is ignore the obviously bad faith and hypocritical condemnations about coarse language from Republicans. Let them freak out about it in their little echo chamber. The rest of us have real problems to deal with.— Jon Favreau (@jonfavs) January 4, 2019
Equally logical: the election of a Somali-American woman was a gift to Trump.
Republicans manufacture villains for their base, using identities, names, and origins. They'll do it with or without reason. Get out of your defensive crouch. https://t.co/PpuWsWvJln— Steve Kantrowitz (@skantrow) January 4, 2019
"Motherfucker" is Detroit's unofficial curse. Mayor Coleman Young dubbed himself "MFIC" for "Motherfucker in charge" and once greeted reporters from Hawaii with, "Aloha, motherfuckers!" https://t.co/NA6a0QEEL0— Justin Miller (@justinjm1) January 4, 2019
ADVISOR: Mr. President, they're saying Rashida Tlaib's language was a violation of our norms.
TRUMP (looking at the blueprint for a device that projects racial slurs onto the moon): ok cool thanks— Law Boy, Esq. (@The_Law_Boy) January 4, 2019
IMO calling a motherfucker a motherfucker is good and does not need further explanation— Veronica de Souza (@HeyVeronica) January 4, 2019
[Multiple children die in CBP custody]
[Congresswoman says the word "motherfucker"]
GOP: WE AS A REPUBLICAN CANNOT STAND FOR THIS! HOOOOWWWWW DAAAAAAARE SHE— Parker Molloy (@ParkerMolloy) January 4, 2019
Rashida Tlaib was literally sworn in to the House yesterday. If you're making an argument that her calling Trump a motherfucker is going to hurt her in a hypothetical primary 2 years from now, the worms have completely rotted your brain and there's no hope for you.— Jon Eiseman (@Jon_Eiseman) January 4, 2019
“is it okay for Dems to use bad words” is a dumb conversation and I'm not gonna have it— Brandy Jensen (@BrandyLJensen) January 4, 2019
My take on Rashida Tlaib is that while the Democratic Party is being pushed to the left on policy, it's not really being pushed left at all on political temperament. And the policy doesn't really have a prayer unless people make the second push happen as well.— Osita Nwanevu (@OsitaNwanevu) January 4, 2019
tlaib story is a perfect example of the media's craving to normalize trump and the gop. the second he's gone every republican will be john mccain— we're going to pass AVR (@SeanMcElwee) January 4, 2019
I'm apalled Rashida Tlaib said “motherfucker.”
She should've said “grab them by the pussy.” Or perhaps “moved on her like a bitch.”
You know—civil language befitting the solemnity of the office.— Imani Gandy (@AngryBlackLady) January 4, 2019
I know there'll be a lot of clucking today about Rep. Tlaib and "impeach the motherf**ker" but my supportive feeling is based on this. I'm student/fan of the '60s because radical times call for saying radical things. We again are in such a moment. Let's start treating it that way— Will Bunch (@Will_Bunch) January 4, 2019
Perhaps instead of asking people not to call the president a mother fucker we should ask the president to stop being a mother fucker. chicken or the egg yknow— connor (@rockiesVSconnor) January 4, 2019
Like her or not, Rashida Tlaib shouldn't have referred to the President using the Secret Service code name for Mike Pence— Jason O. Gilbert (@gilbertjasono) January 4, 2019
Jacob Weindling is a staff writer for Paste politics. Follow him on Twitter at @Jakeweindling.