What it Will Take to Preserve the House Democratic Majority

While our democracy has been under assault for at least the last two years, both Josh Marshall and David Rothkopf suggested that we crossed a line last week. Here is the beginning of a long twitter thread in which the latter made his case.

It is certainly tempting to feel helpless to stop that kind of descent. But until voters have the opportunity to once again speak their minds, these are some of the people on the front lines of holding the president accountable.

It is important to remember how those five Democrats got in a position to do their best to save democracy. They chair their respective committees because in November 2018, a whole host of Democrats beat incumbent Republicans for House seats—many of them in districts that were considered to be Republican-leaning.

We’re talking about people like Colin Allred, who beat Pete Sessions in an R+5 district, and Lucy McBath, who beat Karen Handel in an R+8 district. We’re also talking about Sharice Davids, who beat Kevin Yoder in an R+4 district. None of them are getting a lot of national press coverage, nor are their social media accounts being followed by people on both the left and right who are obsessed with every word they utter. And yet their stories are just as compelling. For Davids, her hometown Kansas City Star is noticing.

Congress has never seen anyone quite like Davids: Cornell Law School-educated MMA fighter, one of the first two Native American women in the House, the first LGBT person to represent Kansas.

And yet, while her personal biography is barrier-breaking, Davids’ approach to her first 100 days in office has been exceedingly traditional, marked by deference to leadership and studious attention to the details of legislating. As other members of her freshman class, like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-New York, have made big headlines with proposals like the Green New Deal, Davids has quietly been laying the groundwork for a longer game…

“Congresswoman Davids may be the most brilliant and thoughtful member of the freshman class who nobody has noticed. And a lot of that is if you’re from the East Coast or the West Coast… the media just automatically fawns over you,” [Rep. Emmanuel] Cleaver said.

“If you’re in flyover territory people tend to overlook, but I can guarantee you— because I hear it at home— the people at home aren’t overlooking her.”

Cleaver goes on to say that Davids “may be the only person that reads every sentence of every bill, of every amendment… I mean, everything.” Here are the conclusions she reached after reading Medicare for All legislation and talking to her constituents.

Keep in mind that it is because people like Sharice Davids won in Republican districts that Democrats are now in the majority in the House. No one would suggest that she is in the mold of the old centrist “blue dogs” who used to dominate the more moderate wing of the party. The fact that she has voted with progressives 94 percent of the time, according to Progressive Punch, is all the proof you need.

Davids might not be as outspoken or progressive as some of the members elected from deeply blue districts, but she is authentic, engaged, thoughtful, and a fighter for the people she represents. For Democrats to have any hope of maintaining or building on their majority, re-electing Sharice Davids and more representatives like her from traditionally Republican districts will make that possible.

Washington Monthly - Donate today and your gift will be doubled!

Support Nonprofit Journalism

If you enjoyed this article, consider making a donation to help us produce more like it. The Washington Monthly was founded in 1969 to tell the stories of how government really works—and how to make it work better. Fifty years later, the need for incisive analysis and new, progressive policy ideas is clearer than ever. As a nonprofit, we rely on support from readers like you.

Yes, I’ll make a donation

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly. Follow her on Twitter @Smartypants60.