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Thursday, February 9, 2023

Carson: Unity vs. chaos in the House

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Millions followed C-SPAN a lot more closely than usual the last week. Our government was at a standstill, unable to elect a new speaker of the House until a 15th vote.

The reason? Extreme disagreements within the Republican Party, which played out throughout the week in unfiltered coverage of dramatic and tense negotiations — and sometimes just pure pandemonium.

As disappointing as this saga was to watch, it revealed much about the divisions within the Republican Party, contrasted with Democrats holding a united front throughout the process.

Republicans managed to finally elect Speaker McCarthy in the early hours of Saturday morning. Americans and late-night viewers around the world got their chance to hear a strong message of unity and optimism from the podium of the people’s House, from our unanimously chosen leader — the first Black leader of a major party in Congressional history, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries.

The contrast could not be more clear. Despite winning a slim majority in the November election, House Republicans made history, with the longest and most divisive speaker vote in 164 years. And Democrats made history with our chosen leader.

This contrast is all the more jarring considering the timing. On Jan. 6, 2021, violent insurrectionists stormed the Capitol. Five died defending it; 140 were injured. And on Jan. 6, 2023, there we were again, two years later, experiencing yet another crisis of democracy.

Some of the same individuals who led the GOP speaker revolt claimed the insurrectionists were peaceful protesters, and they continue to defend the attackers and deny that President Biden won the 2020 election.

Without a speaker, members of Congress were not able to be sworn in for an entire week, introduce or pass bills to address a variety of issues at the top of mind for many hardworking Hoosiers. The American people face a variety of challenges. The rising cost of living. Equitable access to education. The need for meaningful, good-paying jobs. They cannot afford one second wasted to partisan squabbling.

Democrats remained united throughout every single vote. We demonstrated again we are ready, willing and able to get back to work on behalf of everyday Americans.

Watching everything play out over the last week, it is easy to be disillusioned and frustrated by politics. But a bright spot came when Hakeem Jeffries took the podium to address the 118th Congress for the first time.

Through a speech clearly spelling out the differences between Democrats and Republicans from A to Z, Leader Jeffries summed up what our party is all about:
“American values over autocracy. Benevolence over bigotry. The Constitution over the cult. … Reason over racism. … Understanding over ugliness. Voting rights over voter suppression.”

From N.W.A. to Public Enemy, from Big Daddy Kane and Rakim, hip-hop culture was essential to raising my own political consciousness. And Hakeem Jeffries has also frequently cited hip-hop’s influence on his politics.

Leader Jeffries has used rap lyrics in this type of setting before, quoting the Notorious B.I.G. during Donald Trump’s impeachment trial.
The hip-hop generation is here to stay in politics. Now, it’s on a bigger stage than ever before.

With Black voter participation threatened by voter suppression and voter disenfranchisement schemes, and when civic engagement grows more contentious by the day, we have an opportunity to send a message: Black voices are stronger than ever; our voices and our power will not be silenced or denied.

Leader Jeffries’ message, and the way he delivered it, brought reassurance and encouragement after a long, uncertain week.

Political participation was inaccessible to our ancestors, and unfortunately, sometimes seems not worth the effort for too many in our community.

But in the middle of chaos and confusion, Democrats stood together, ready to get back to work on the issues that matter most to hardworking Americans.

In the midst of a new House majority thrown into disarray by the very people elected to actually govern and uphold its values, Democrats kept a united front, focused on delivering results for the downtrodden, the disenfranchised and the working-class American people.

“Hopefulness over hatred. Inclusion over isolation. Justice over judicial overreach. … Liberty over limitation.”

And that’s what we’ll continue to do.

Rep. Carson represents the 7th District of Indiana. He is a member of the Congressional Black Caucus and one of three Muslims in Congress. Rep. Carson sits on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the House Intelligence Committee, where he is chairman of the Subcommittee on Counterterrorism, Counterintelligence and Counterproliferation. Contact Rep. Carson at carson.house.gov/contact.

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