US: The Freshman Congressional Renegades

US: The Freshman Congressional Renegades, by David Catanese.

Many of their electoral victories were had by skipping the established line, so they’re wired to approach governing in the same rebellious way. And their sizable followings on social media provide them with an imposing arsenal of support that can be converted into raw political power as fast as one can upload an Instagram.

“The freshman class as an aggregate will have more power than the leadership,” says Rep. Ro Khanna, a California Democrat about to start his second term. “The balance of power is shifting in the House. Leadership doesn’t matter nearly as much. Ordinary members of Congress have a much bigger platform. The size of your Twitter following and the size of your external base makes a huge difference.” …

Get with the program, comrades:

They not only look different than your father’s stodgy, old, whitebread Congress, they’re making moves both substantive and symbolic that break with protocol and tradition. And they aren’t doing it quietly.

Michigan’s Rashida Tlaib, who at 42 years old is the first Palestinian-American woman elected to the House, raised eyebrows when she announced she would lead a delegation to her mother’s native West Bank rather than partake in the traditional freshman trip to Israel. She said she hoped to humanize the plight of Palestinians in the Israeli-occupied territory and show new members a part of the story that’s not been included in the usual voyage sponsored by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. She’s also a vocal supporter of the “BDS” movement, which advocates for boycotting, divesting and sanctioning Israel for its treatment of Palestinians. …

Does the US already have “Islamic” electorates, where a Muslim will always be elected?

Ilhan Omar, a 36-year-old Democrat from Minnesota, will become the first U.S. lawmaker to wear a headscarf or hijab on the House floor. With her November victory, Omar becomes the first woman of color to represent Minnesota in Congress as well as the first Muslim refugee and first Somali-American.

When a conservative talk radio host complained that Omar would now make Congress “look like an Islamic republic,” she took him on directly.

“Well sir, the floor of Congress is going to look like America,” she wrote. “And you’re gonna have to just deal.”