There are politicians who perform acts of bravery and there are those who mostly play it safe. It is rare to do both in a single act, but Jahana Hayes might very well have pulled it off.
Hayes, the Democrat who represents yours truly and the rest of Connecticut’s 5th District in the U.S. House of Representatives, has been circulating a letter among her colleagues appealing to them to strip a Republican congresswoman from Georgia of her membership in the House Education and Labor Committee, of which Hayes herself is a member.
That might sound like a radical move to some. But Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene is not only a radical; she is simply nuttier than a fruitcake. Greene just might be the dumbest member of Congress — and that’s quite a distinction when you consider the confederacy of dunces roaming the halls of the Capitol and making laws for the little people.
How barmy is Greene? She promotes QAnon, a radicalized cult that not only believes in the so-called Deep State conspiracy theories, but is convinced the nation is controlled by a cabal of satanic cannibals and pedophiles. Worst of all, QAnon adherents were among those who sought to overturn the results of the presidential election by storming the Capitol on Jan. 6, ransacking it and causing the deaths of five people, including a Capitol police officer. It’s worth noting that Hayes’ husband is a Waterbury police detective.
A review of social media also shows that Greene has indicated support for executing prominent Democrats and FBI agents, has suggested the 9/11 terrorist attacks were a hoax and has made racist and Islamaphobic statements. Inasmuch as she seems to be from another planet, it’s perhaps appropriate that she’s also offered the theory that the 2018 California wildfires were sparked by lasers from outer space. I could go on and on. The woman’s list of preposterous fabrications is nearly endless, but you get the idea.
The tipping point for Hayes was Greene’s embrace of conspiracy theorists who believe the deadly mass shootings in Parkland, Florida, and Newtown were staged as “false flags,” presumably in an effort to drum up public support for more gun control. This one hit surely close to home.
Hayes, whose district includes Newtown, was not a member of Congress on Dec. 14, 2012, when a deranged and heavily armed young man shot his way into Sandy Hook Elementary School and massacred 26 educators and young children. Hayes was a classroom teacher in the Waterbury public schools.
Greene’s behavior also sparked outrage on the part of surviving families in Parkland and Newtown, which Hayes now represents in Congress. One parent invited Greene to view her son’s ashes and his “bullet-hole-riddled sweatshirt.”
Greene provoked further outrage when she was caught on video before her election to Congress making false claims and badgering former Parkland student and survivor David Hogg for his advocacy for gun control. For good measure, Hayes noted in her letter that Greene called Hogg a “coward,” a crisis actor and “accused him of being paid off by George Soros.”
Removing Greene from her committee assignments has precedent. Most recently, former Iowa Republican Rep. Steve King was stripped of all of his committee assignments two years ago after he repeatedly made racist remarks and insulted immigrants at every turn. Hayes referenced the King precedent and urged that it be followed this time. To that, I would add that the National Republican Congressional Committee should withdraw any funding for a Greene reelection bid, as it did with King, who lost his primary last year.
Hayes wasn’t the only member of Congress who got into the act. California Congressman Jimmy Gomez went a step farther when he drafted a resolution to expel Greene from the House of Representatives.
In her letter, Hayes avoided overreacting and came across as entirely reasonable. There will be some risks for her. Hayes represents one of two swing districts in the state (the 2nd being the other). About a quarter of the electorate is comprised of Republicans and Joe Biden only won the district by 11 points. Donald Trump lost the 5th to Hillary Clinton by a mere four points in 2016. In a word, there are lots of Trump voters here and most of them are strongly pro-gun rights. Some of them were peeled off last November because of Trump’s behavior over the last four years. And let us not forget that Republican former state Sen. Andrew Roraback came within four points of winning the seat as recently as 2012 when Barack Obama was on the ballot.
Hayes already has been accused of “hanging out with The Squad,” the controversial group of new left-leaning female leaders in Congress. And of course, who could forget when she was Zoom-bombed at a campaign event, bombarded with the N-word and told to “GO PICK YOUR COTTON” in the Zoom chat?
White supremacists aren’t going to support a Black woman’s candidacy anyway, but the fact that so many of them live in her mostly rural and suburban district tells you something about the nature of the 5th District electorate and its dark underbelly. Piss these racists off at your peril. That’s why I do think there’s an element of courage to what Hayes did. You go, girl …
Contributing op-ed columnist Terry Cowgill lives in Lakeville, blogs at CTDevilsAdvocate and is managing editor of The Berkshire Edge in Great Barrington, Mass. Follow him on Twitter @terrycowgill or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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