California Representative Eric Swalwell on Friday called on members of his party to stop the “intramural finger-pointing” over Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe’s loss and start hitting back at Republicans for being in denial over the 6 January insurrection and the existence of racism in the US.
Writing in The Independent, Mr Swalwell — a Democrat who has represented parts of the San Francisco Bay area since 2013 — said his colleagues should “show no patience for this naysaying gloom that Democratic electoral losses in 2022 and 2024 are a fait accompli,” and called the fight over who is to blame for Mr McAuliffe’s loss “a circular firing squad that benefits only our opponents”.
The former presidential candidate said Democrats should instead focus on how President Joe Biden’s policies have made the US “safer and stronger than it was a year ago” by curbing the Covid-19 pandemic and reviving the US economy, while speaking honestly about the Republican penchant for appeals to racial resentment.
“Let’s call the white right-wing hysteria over critical race theory what it is: a white right-wing denial of the irrefutable fact that America’s racist past still taints our societal power structures today, from economic opportunity to criminal justice to health and much more,” he said. “It’s dog-whistling for those who want to maintain an unacceptable racial status quo”.
Mr Swalwell, who served as one of the House of Representatives managers during former president Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial for inciting the 6 January insurrection, also called on his colleagues to be blunt about what happened in the Capitol when Trump supporters stormed the building in hopes of stopping certification of Mr Biden’s electoral college win.
“Let’s recognise that violently attacking the Capitol on January 6 – maiming police officers with the aim of halting our peaceful transfer of power, undoing our Constitution, and ending our democracy – was an act of domestic terrorism. And let’s make sure that every individual who participated in or incited that insurrection is held accountable to the fullest extent of the law,” he said.
He also urged his colleagues to support Mr Biden’s Build Back Better safety net package when it is brought to the House floor for a vote on Monday.
The bill, which includes funding for pre-kindergarten programs, home health care support, and expansions of Mr Biden’s child tax credit and Medicaid, has been significantly pared back due to opposition to many of proposals in the bill’s original form by Democratic senators Joe Manchin and Krysten Sinema.
But Mr Swalwell said the package he and his colleagues will vote on is worth supporting, and one Democrats can campaign on successfully in next year’s midterm elections by pointing to benefits of what he called “the most forward-looking legislation in generations”.
“Are we getting every policy we wished for in this package? No; that basically never happens. But we still have something that could be more transformational than the New Deal, and we should shout that from the rooftops,” he said.
“Poll after poll shows us that the policies we pursue – paid leave, Medicare coverage for vision and dental care, lower prescription drug prices, making the rich and corporations pay their fair share of taxes – are wildly popular. Let’s act that way”.
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