Biden Better Defund the Capitol Police + Do a Mulvaney, Now Please

Boy, was I not thinking.  I turned on the mainstream television news yesterday.  It was hard not to.  The images.*

I don’t know the details yet (the Capitol police are taking their time), but listening to them explain, I have to wonder, “Where were you?”  Then, after 6 PM, how did they clear the Capitol so fast? It’s collusion, of course.  Selfies between the police and the Trump mob say it all. 

Defund the Capitol Police, Biden, for sure. If you can’t protect the Capitol, where you served most of your career, who are you?

By evening, when ABC and CBS were calling the pro-authoritarian, racist, misogynist white supremacists “anarchists” — anarchists,of all things — I went to sleep in defeat.  Being a PwD will sadly do that.

Still, I am a mother, and a teacher of graduate students. I’ve spent my entire career in the only public university that is truly public — CUNY.  This means we teach the very best.  As a result, I’ve had a running argumentative discourse with my sons and with more than one fantastic seminar I taught several times called Contemporary American Political Thought. “Contemporary” means alive.**  And this semester I’m teaching a hybrid version of it under a new name — Women of Color Impacting Politics.

I call it WIP for short, since women of color are included in the larger category of women, and it’s only women of color (which I like to think of as women and) or politicians who have at least two identities that put targets on their backs, like AOC and the rest of the Squad. 

WIP differs from my other seminar, Power, Resistance, Identities and Social Movements (PRISM)***. None of that came to pass after Occupy Wall Street, so I retooled it, though not until I first went out to the more radical campuses led by sociologists to hear what the 18-year-olds had to say about the political time we all occupy — and not before I finally got to team teach with DP David Waldstreicher, a scholar not only of history but of American Studies too boot.

What’s the difference between the two?  The latter seminar looks at social movements, whereas the former spends more time on the only political thought exported to Europe, as well as other nations that are active, such as Greece and a few more. More importantly, though, it shows the way for all those with energy to run for office — the flag wavers.  

There are a tiny few in American politics, such as AOC, who, along with the aspirational Green New Deal and the Squad, are not leading the way, they are flagging it.  Their teeny-tiny foothold in federal government has its consequences.  They constitute the hopeful 1 percenters in this country.  Sure, they can’t pass legislation, let alone a policy like the Green New Deal. That’s not why they’re there. They’re doing flag duty.

As that 1 percent in the House of Representatives, they are flagging the way to the fortress of American political representation — Congress.  Not the Senate, but the House of Representatives, through which — if the corporate capitalist Democrats and Republicans had not been Tweedledee and Tweedledum for so many decades, with the highlight expressed in the 1924 GOP and Democratic platforms that included the KKK, delaying the New Deal for sure, but only by four years — we would have had a different country, a different New Deal.

Now is the moment of truth.  The mob descended. And they took selfies with the Capitol police. What more indictment do we need than that? Biden, better defund the Capitol Police.

You can’t blame Trump for lighting the match, or can you? Well, if you do, quit.  And quit today. Don’t delay.  Stop being complicit in the GOP executive-branch machine.

Trump did not do this alone. I can’t hear that explanation one more time without demanding that all conservatives go back to class — civics, that is.  It’s absurd when the executive branch has more than 4,000 partisan positions alone that have to be vetted and go before the Senate.  Come on. That logic defies credibility in a country of almost 400 million.  We have institutions, national ones at that, that deserve better protection from the police.

*Cleveland Lovett, one of my very best undergraduates that Bard College enticed away from the CUNY Bac program, is playing outside Hannah Arendt’s house.  He understands not only Arendt’s The Human Condition but the triangulation of discrimination, public health, and jazz (or music in general) in New York.  Plus the flood of memories from running errands from hall to hall in the Capitol for two summers and as many months from my junior year until I went off to college.  (Then of course I selected a college with “men” in the title as a youthful rebellion against my mom, who insisted that I come back to California — and could apply and go anywhere except her alma mater, Berkeley, or the university that harmed one of her most beloved cousins, Stanford.). If I was going into politics, where better than into the belly of the beast?  She raised me as a fierce feminist, more by her doings than by her sayings, to be sure.    

**This led to my second solo book series, called Heretical Thought.  Here the bottom line is if you don’t have a fatwa or aren’t in danger of being burned at the stake — or, like me, don’t like to open hate mail or have groups like the Weasel Zippers after you, going so far as to send people to the 92nd Street Y when my Obama book came out — then your ideas are not seismic enough. Gerry Martini was one of the most insightful members of this seminar, as I recall.#

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About Professor Ruth O'Brien

Professor Ruth O'Brien, The Graduate Center, The City University of New York (CUNY) & Honorary Unaffiliated Academic Book Series Editor for The Public Square, Princeton University Press & Heretical Thought, Oxford University Press, USA Last book: Out of Many, One: Obama & the Third American Political Tradition (U of Chicago 2013). Nickname: Professorette by Rush Limbaugh (see http://www.gc.cuny.edu/Faculty/Core-Bios/Ruth-O-Brien)