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Danica Roem points the way forward

Summary:
I don’t think I’ve ever written a post about a tweet storm, but the series of tweets pasted in below struck me as so resonant and important that I wanted to elevate it. They’re from of Danica Roem, a Prince William County (PWC) Democrat who was recently elected to the Virginia House of Representatives. The 33-year-old Roem is one of the first openly transgender persons elected in the nation. She unseated Robert Marshall, a 13-term incumbent who proudly called himself Virginia’s “chief homophobe.” While Roem campaigned on the issues confronting the county, most around transportation, the Marshall campaign consistently went negative. He refused to debate her, referred to her as “him,” attacked her transgenderism, and even went after a five-year-old video she’d made with her heavy metal band

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I don’t think I’ve ever written a post about a tweet storm, but the series of tweets pasted in below struck me as so resonant and important that I wanted to elevate it.

They’re from of Danica Roem, a Prince William County (PWC) Democrat who was recently elected to the Virginia House of Representatives. The 33-year-old Roem is one of the first openly transgender persons elected in the nation. She unseated Robert Marshall, a 13-term incumbent who proudly called himself Virginia’s “chief homophobe.” While Roem campaigned on the issues confronting the county, most around transportation, the Marshall campaign consistently went negative. He refused to debate her, referred to her as “him,” attacked her transgenderism, and even went after a five-year-old video she’d made with her heavy metal band (a point she references below).

Roem’s point below is extremely simple: She ran on good governance. The only trans she talked about was trans…portation.

Her opponent ran on the principle that solving the county’s problems were unimportant relative to disdain for the personal choices of his opponent. The voters of PWC disagreed.

In this regard, I find Roem’s victory incredibly uplifting. But as I write that, I’m also reflecting on why that should be the case. After all, we elect people to solve problems, which can range from traffic at the county level to geopolitical conflict and climate change at the national level. And yet, we willingly get sucked into arguments about everything but governance and pragmatic problem-solving. It’s no wonder we end up with dysfunctional politicians who are great at tapping our prejudices but clueless re governing.

Perhaps victories like Roem’s are a harbinger that something’s gotta give—that the cost of indulging our differences versus meeting our challenges is too steep. As I write, Republicans are jamming through a terrible, unpopular tax plan that will exacerbate inequality and significantly worsen our fiscal accounts. That’s where the elevation of vicious identity politics over good governance has left us. Roem’s pointing towards a much better way and I, for one, will happily follow her.

Here’s her tweet storm (@pwcdanica):

Since the election, I’ve repeatedly heard these Republican talking points about why they lost, basically making Democratic voters out to be too dumb to vote Republican and caring too much about identity politics. At risk of giving them good ideas, let me break this down.

I spent 10 months detailing my plan to fix #Route28: how much it would cost ($300M), how to pay for it (reallocating 28-66 funds), what it would look like (replace traffic lights with overpasses) & how I would get it done (local+state). Y’all hit me on “transgenderism.”

At the state level, y’all made a pediatrician who volunteers at a children’s hospice [Gov. elect Ralph Northam] out to be a member of MS-13 and campaigned throughout the state on Confederate statues and fiscally reckless tax cuts your own state senators called BS. And you wonder why you lost?

Here in Manassas, @carterforva and I talked relentlessly about jobs. Roads. Schools. Health care. Equality. I know this because Lee and I saw each other on the stump constantly. And y’all went after us for and “teaching transgenderism to kindergartners” and “socialism.”

When you spend an entire year just trying to make people afraid of people in their community and you apply this asinine labels as if you’re trying to make people afraid of an ideology or an idea, then you’re neglecting the very basics of governing to divide our communities.

Look at the BS the Democrats in PWC had to put up with from y’all this year. Racism. Xenophobia. Transphobia. When I went on offense in my TV ad, I had a first-person testimonial from someone in PWC who your policies left uninsured. You hit me for my band and my gender.

Bottom line: Knock off the divisive BS and actually campaign on boring stuff like infrastructure because it’s the boring stuff that the people pay you with their tax dollars to work on so they don’t have to focus on it. That’s literally your job. Try doing it.

One more thing: Stop believing your own headlines. I knew beyond a shred of doubt we would win this race when y’all actually, sincerely thought based on a POS robo poll that 27% of Dems wouldn’t vote for me if they knew I’m trans.
1) Wrong.
2) Stop attacking trans people. #NoH8”

Jared Bernstein
Jared Bernstein joined the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities in May 2011 as a Senior Fellow. From 2009 to 2011, Bernstein was the Chief Economist and Economic Adviser to Vice President Joe Biden, Executive Director of the White House Task Force on the Middle Class, and a member of President Obama’s economic team. Prior to joining the Obama administration, Bernstein was a senior economist and the director of the Living Standards Program at the Economic Policy Institute, and between 1995 and 1996, he held the post of Deputy Chief Economist at the U.S. Department of Labor.

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