Have Democrats found their Ulysses S. Grant?

Democrats may have found their Ulysses S. Grant in a 5-feet, six-inch, straight, white, Christian, married, suburban mom.

Mallory McMorrow, a Michigan state senator, like the great Civil War general, went on the offensive against the enemy — in this case, a right-wing politician who sleazily accused her of wanting to groom and sexualize young children and make white children feel guilty about the sins of slavery.

Citing her background, McMorrow said she’s “the biggest threat to hollow, hateful” charges made against her and others who oppose punitive measures against the LGBTQ community or inflicting guilt on children for past racial sins: “The very notion that learning about slavery or redlining or systemic racism somehow means that children are being taught to feel bad or hate themselves because they are white is absolute nonsense.”

She has stayed on the offense, emerging as a role model for progressives in the culture wars. The right has attacked Democrats for being too “woke” in adopting positions on race and sexual identity that are antithetical to American and “family” values.

McMorrow not only took on charges; she reframed the issue, charging that it’s the “hate” of these right-wingers that threatens traditional or family values. 

To be sure, there are “woke” liberals who seek to make whites feel guilty about their privilege and the sins of racial and sexual discrimination. Although this is much more prevalent in elite universities and foundations than in politics, a number of Democrats have been tarred.

Yet the right-wing “hate” contingent is much larger, more part of politics and more dangerous. This includes more than a few Republican House members.

For most of the many years I’ve covered American politics, there was little difference between Republicans and Democrats on matters of ethical morality and actual family values, a centerpiece of today’s culture wars. That has decidedly changed.

A Trump-backed Republican candidate for Nebraska governor has been accused of sexually groping at least a half dozen women, including a GOP state senator. One of the top candidates for the Missouri GOP Senate nomination was forced out as governor when an investigation found that he had sexually abused his mistress; subsequently, his wife charged that he had physically abused her.

The ex-wife of the Republican front-runner for a Senate seat in Georgia said he held a gun to her temple, threatening to blow her brains out. Earlier, the Trump-endorsed front-runner for the Pennsylvania Senate seat dropped out after a judge awarded custody of his children to his ex-wife, who said he had been physically abusive.

The House Republican caucus sometimes looks like a mini-Gomorrah. Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz (R), a close Trump ally, is under federal investigation for allegedly sex trafficking an underage girl and for allegedly transporting prostitutes across state lines. He has denied the charges. Former associates reportedly are testifying against him.  

North Carolina Republican Rep. Madison Cawthorn suggested some of his colleagues invited him to an orgy in Washington and others were cocaine users. Last week, photos emerged of Cawthorn wearing ladies’ lingerie

The hypocrisy of it all.

Imagine if one of the left-wing Democratic “squad” members bragged about drug-infested sex parties or was photographed wearing a jock strap.

The right loves to target House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) as a “San Francisco liberal,” supposedly antithetical to real American values. Pelosi has been married to the same man for more than 58 years and raised five accomplished children.

By contrast, the Republican House leaders over the last quarter century — with the exception of John Boehner and Paul Ryan — have been a values nightmare. The twice-divorced Newt Gingrich was the only Speaker to be reprimanded for ethical transgressions; Dennis Hastert was a pervert, imprisoned for sexually assaulting young boys when he was a wrestling coach; and now Kevin McCarthy has been caught in blatant lies when tapes came out of his anti-Trump comments after the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection.

As for the presidency, would anyone on the right like to compare Donald Trump’s family values to Joe Biden’s?

Yet Democrats too often have allowed the right to dominate the values argument and have left unchallenged racial and sexual identity charges. With that, McMorrow says, “hate is winning.”

Instead, the 36-year-old first-term state senator calls for forcefully going on the offense: If “a fifth-grader who’s trans can no longer play soccer, that’s not going to bring your health care costs down,” she says in an interview. “It’s scapegoating.” 

It’s the same, she says, with phony charges about race or embracing the so-called critical race theory: “There is a huge difference between understanding accurate history. You know, when I grew up, I didn’t grow up in a particularly diverse area, but we learned about slavery, and you feel horrible knowing that humans owned other humans, but that doesn’t mean that it was my fault. That means that we now have a responsibility to learn from that so we don’t repeat history.”

With a glint in her eye, Mallory tosses out one avenue: “Get a lot of suburban moms in a van, and let’s go save democracy.”

Al Hunt is the former executive editor of Bloomberg News. He previously served as reporter, bureau chief and Washington editor for The Wall Street Journal. For almost a quarter century he wrote a column on politics for The Wall Street Journal, then The International New York Times and Bloomberg View. He hosts “Politics War Room” with James Carville. Follow him on Twitter @AlHuntDC.

Tags Culture Wars Democratic champion Democratic Party democratic values Dennis Hastert Family values Fear governor Hate speech John Boehner Kevin McCarthy Madison Cawthorn Mallory McMorrow Matt Gaetz Michigan Nancy Pelosi Newt Gingrich Paul Ryan political polarization Republican hypocrisy Republican leadership Trump endorsements trumpism Ulysses S. Grant woke politics

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