100 days in, Dem freshmen show they're up for the fight

Friday marked the first 100 days of the new Democratic majority in Congress.

While it has been a whirlwind of viral moments, controversy, attention-grabbing Twitter feeds and tense, closed-door Democratic caucus meetings, it has also been a demonstration of what happens when we elect the youngest, most-diverse freshman class in history.

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The newcomers represent their constituents, lead with vigor, advocate fearlessly and, most of all, with the help of the Democratic leadership, get the peoples’ business done. 

If we are only to believe the headlines, we could easily forgive the American people if they were to think that Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezTlaib rallies in support of Green New Deal at Detroit town hall Ocasio-Cortez plans visit to Kentucky despite being disinvited by GOP colleague Overnight Energy: Flint residents can sue EPA over water crisis | Environmentalists see victory with Green New Deal blitz | March global temperatures were second hottest on record | EPA told to make final decision on controversial pesticide MORE (D-N.Y.) leads the Democratic Party. After all, every time she tweets or is quoted, it makes front page news.

But while she is an important leader within the Democratic Party, as are all the other freshmen, she is but a part of a rich, robust, sometimes chaotic but always enthusiastic group of representatives focused on getting things done for the American people. 

Two important truths came out of the first 100 days of the Democratic Congress. One is that they are keeping their promise of holding the corrupt Trump administration accountable after two years of a Republican-controlled House that refused to do so. 

The second truth is that this Congress has a myriad of accomplishments to be proud of that are significant and should be highlighted, even if they are easily overshadowed by the media frenzy of strong personalities that too easily (and comically) provoke Republican outrage.

To that end, the Democratic freshman class has published a video underscoring its successes, namely:

  • bills and amendments protecting the Affordable Care Act in the face of Republican efforts to dismantle it;
  • protecting people with pre-existing conditions;
  • providing resources for girls in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields; 
  • passing background check and gun violence prevention provisions;
  • providing a reliable water supply to constituents;
  • providing protections to Dreamers as well as a way to give them work authorization;
  • introducing the Green New Deal;
  • reducing the influence of dark money in politics;
  • protecting voting rights as Republicans seek to weaken them; and
  • a slew of other bills, amendments and new laws that were either introduced, voted on or passed that the freshman class of Democrats — and the country — should be proud of. 

Most of these however do not get as much attention as the controversial tweets and unorthodox viewpoints that our new leaders have published.  

But let’s be clear, much of the attention is driven by Republican hypocritical furor over the temerity of young women of color speaking out, boldly commenting and standing up for what they believe in.

Have there been missteps? Of course. Rep. Ilhan OmarIlhan OmarOcasio-Cortez plans visit to Kentucky despite being disinvited by GOP colleague Man arrested for threatening Dems, citing Omar comments Omar mocks Trump's claims of 'presidential harassment': 'Just lived through one!' MORE (D-Minn.) has been a particular focus of Republican attacks after some of her ill-advised tweets and comments. Democrats, as they should, have been critical of some of her comments that were anti-Semitic and hurtful. She has rightly apologized. 

She was also vilified and horribly attacked for downplaying the 9/11 tragedy. But would these attacks have come if the same words were used by a white man? We can be assured that he would not have been met with the same vile reproach. 

Have these same Republicans who attacked Omar with such zeal also held Trump accountable for his horrific anti-Semitic tropes, and his disrespectful and despicable remarks about the 9/11 tragedy?

These are the events that have garnered the most headlines and attention in the last 100 days. They are also the events that have led to a misguided, if not completely exaggerated narrative of Democratic disunity. 

Diversity, by its very nature and definition, means there will be an array of diverse opinions and points of view.  As the most diverse Democratic Congress in history, that better represents who we are as a country, we will have members with differing opinions and divergent viewpoints. 

We also will have robust disagreements about the best ways to pass policy and legislation that protect access to health care for more people, better jobs with higher wages for everyone, access to good schools and job training options and effective ways to protect our planet, the air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we eat.  Radical right?

You know what else our Democratic caucus is doing while also taking care of the people’s business? They are holding Trump and his cabinet accountable on behalf of the American people. 

This is perhaps the one thing that most irks Republicans and Trump himself. It is why they scream every time Democrats demand to see the entirety of the Mueller report. It is why they squirm now that Democrats have asked to see Trump’s tax returns from the IRS as is allowed by a 1924 law. 

It has become clear that the GOP is most irate that Democrats have the audacity to hold them accountable as well. Democrats are simply exercising their power of oversight.

The freshmen have demonstrated an acute ability and tremendous preparedness in their effective questioning of Trump administration officials and key witnesses.

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I can understand the need for Republicans to try to paint the Democrats as radical and in disarray. They believe it helps distract the American people from the two years of political malpractice during which time they chose to do Trump’s bidding instead of the people's. 

For a long time, the “emperor” has had no clothes. America has seen Trump for who he is — an unfit, self-aggrandizing showbiz president who is in it for himself. The problem for Republicans is that now, they too are naked. 

Democrats are in charge now. The voice of the people will be heard.

Maria Cardona is a principal at the Dewey Square Group, a Democratic strategist and a CNN/CNN Español political commentator. Follow her on Twitter @MariaTCardona.