Forget the ‘Badasses’ – let’s not whitewash the impeachment push


Maxine Waters … along with Congressman Al Green, she has long pushed for Trump to be impeached. PHOTO: REX/Shutterstock

CNN has called five white congresswomen the ‘leaders on impeachment’ – erasing the black and brown voices that blazed the trail

In a world where an orange supervillain is menacing democracy, a small group of progressive congresswomen of colour have been valiantly fighting to bring him down. Now the same US Congress that brought you the Squad has spawned a new Democratic girl gang. This one consists of five white congresswomen who call themselves the Badasses. The women reportedly adopted the name because they all used to be in the military or the CIA. (Nothing screams badass like signing up to an institution that is notorious for waterboarding people.)

There has been little about the Badasses in the news because, until recently, the centrist lawmakers didn’t do anything particularly newsworthy. That changed last Monday when, along with two other moderate Democrats, they published an opinion piece in the Washington Post calling for Donald Trump to be impeached over allegations he pressured the Ukrainian president to investigate the former vice-president Joe Biden. Less than 24 hours after the piece was published, Nancy Pelosi announced an impeachment inquiry.

There are numerous reasons that the inquiry has finally been ordered but, according to CNN, it was the Badasses wot won it. On Saturday, CNN published a glowing profile of the women, calling them “leaders on impeachment” and declaring that their article “changed the dynamic for House Democrats, and indeed the course of history”.

Excuse me? I think the entity changing the course of history here is CNN. And by “changing” I mean “shamelessly whitewashing”. I don’t know what kind of fantasy world you have to be living in to call the Badasses “leaders on impeachment” when it took them until last week to decide Trump should face consequences for his actions. The real leaders here are the brown and black politicians who have spent years demanding impeachment. In May 2017, Al Green became the first congressional Democrat to call for impeachment, citing obstruction of justice, after Trump fired the FBI director James Comey. At that time, few Democrats backed the idea, but Green kept pushing, slowly gathering support.

Maxine Waters, another black member of Congress, has also been tirelessly calling for Trump to face real consequences. In March she lamented that many of her colleagues “whisper the president should be impeached, but have not supported my call for impeachment. Only a few of us dare to continue to urge both Dems and Repubs to impeach this dangerous president.”

Among the few who dared to publicly support Waters were members of the Squad. Indeed, the moment Rashida Tlaib was sworn into Congress she announced: “We’re gonna impeach the motherfucker!” She got a lot of flak for that “uncivil” comment. Remember: it’s fine for the US president to boast about grabbing women “by the pussy” (that’s locker-room talk!), but when other people use foul language it crosses a line.

It may be true that it didn’t become politically expedient to call for impeachment until this Ukraine scandal. However, I highly doubt that Pelosi would have issued the order had it not been for a small number of brave politicians ensuring impeachment was a constant topic of conversation. As Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted on Saturday, Waters and Tlaib “endured the brunt of gaslighting and vitriol for being among the first to recognise [White House] corruption and publicly advocate for impeachment, making it easier for the rest of us. People think that’s easy. It’s not.”

Ocasio-Cortez is right. Standing up for your principles and calling for the most powerful man in the world to be impeached when your own party doesn’t support those calls isn’t easy. What is easy is standing by as others get abused for advocating impeachment and then, once the idea has been mainstreamed, jumping on the bandwagon. And there’s nothing badass about that.

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