Since the election of Donald Trump, Maxine Waters has become one of the most visible icons of the Resistance. Whether she’s “shoving” TYT correspondent Michael Tracey, appearing on t-shirts with her catchphrase “reclaiming my time,” or openly calling for impeachment following Trump’s withdrawal from the Iran Deal, Waters is unafraid to speak her truth and doesn’t care what you think, as she demonstrated this week to Pennsylvania Congressman Mike Kelly in a confrontation on the House floor.
The exchange took place during a meeting of the House Financial Services Committee, which Mrs. Waters resides on. At stake was the repeal of an anti-discrimination law passed under the Obama Administration that prevented auto loan dealers from charging minorities higher fees. The law was passed in 2013 when data from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau proved these discriminatory practices, but Republicans voted to throw it on the scrap pile as they inch towards a bipartisan alteration of Dodd-Frank. What’s worse, this new law includes a rider that prevents Congress from ever trying to enact a similar law again, once again proving that this administration has no agenda other than to undo the accomplishments of the last one.
Congressman Kelly, ushered into Congress with the first class of Tea Partiers in 2010, echoed President Trump’s MAGA philosophy in his remarks defending the repeal, claiming that they were “making America great every day and every way,” and arguing that the best way to do that was to “stop talking about discrimination and start talking about the nation.” He may have thought he had created a new catchphrase with that last remark, but could not have anticipated the righteous fury that his arrogance provoked as Mrs. Waters took the microphone to respond directly to him.
“Mr. Kelly, please do not leave,” she began, “because I want you to know that I am more offended, as an African-American woman, than you will ever be. And this business about ‘making America great again,’ it is your president that’s dividing this country.” The camera did not cut back to Mr. Kelly’s reaction, but I imagine he felt like this:
As she continued, Republican Chair Tom McClintock interrupted her, asking her to suspend and reminding her that she must address her remarks to the chair instead of Kelly. “I respect the chair,” she shot back, “but don’t stop me in the middle when you didn’t stop him in the middle, and I shall continue,” which she did, admonishing the Congressman for his suggestion that “women don’t understand what goes on on the floor of automobile dealers.” A few seconds later, McClintock interrupted her again with his request, causing her to unleash yet another torrent of rhetoric:
“I don’t appreciate that you did not interrupt him when he was making those outrageous remarks about him knowing more about discrimination than I know about discrimination. I resent that, and I resent the remark about ‘making America great again.’ He’s down here making a speech for this dishonorable President of the United States of America. Having said that, I reserve the balance of my time, and no, I do not yield, not one second to you. Not one second. Not one second to you.”
One reason Democrats lose is that Republicans take away the words we should use to define the debate: words like “nation,” “discrimination,” “America,” and “great,” all used by Congressman Kelly. The loss of these words can send us stumbling, or worse, leave us only with curse words. But Waters is too smart for that. With “I shall continue” and “not one second,” Waters has not only coined phrases that symbolize the Resistance, she has used the power of her words to regain her ground and define the debate, making Kelly seem weak.
The moral of this story: if you’re a white man, do not claim you know more about discrimination than any black person – especially a woman as powerful as Maxine Waters. You might as well argue with a tank.
The full video can be seen below.