Summer Lee on The Last Word: Young Dems Are Countering GOP Extremism With ‘Hope’ and ‘Ferocity’ Having Never Lived Under Reflective Democracy

Apr 28, 2023
Press

Washington, D.C. – US Congresswoman Summer Lee joined Ali Velshi prime time on MSNBC’s the Last Word to talk about how the movement of young people across the country – who have never experienced reflective democracy in their lifetimes –  are countering GOP extremism with “hope” and “ferocity”that cannot be ignored. Earlier this week, Lee gave a fiery speech at a rally she held with Justin Jones, Maxwell Frost, and Gen Z organizers earlier this week.

Watch the full segment here.

Lee, 35, got her start in politics in grassroots organizing and  beat millions in corporate PAC money to become the first Black woman to represent PA in Congress. Valshi pointed out that, as one of the youngest democrats in Congress, Lee’s experience reflects the experience of the generation David Frum discussed in his latest column, ”An American must be at least 36 years old to have participated in an election in which the Republican candidate for president won the most votes. An American must be at least 52 years old to have participated in two presidential elections in which the Republican nominee got the most votes.  Despite this, over the past 30 years, the GOP has succeeded in leveraging its smaller share of the vote into a larger share of national power. That same 36-year-old American has lived half of his or her adult life under a Republican-controlled Senate, and even more of it under a Republican-majority House of Representatives. Through almost all of that American’s adult life, Republicans have held more than half of all state legislatures. Conservative dominance of the federal courts has become ever more total in the past two decades, culminating in the Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade.”

Click here to watch

Lee joined Congressman Maxwell Frost (FL-10),  Tennassee State Representative Justin Jones, and a host of young activists and leaders for a press conference outside the Capitol on Wednesday to call for gun control and an end to “attacks on democracy.

Click HERE to watch Congresswoman Lee’s Entire Remarks 

 Lee said, As legislators, it’s important that we recognize that our job here is to not silence the voices and the passion of our young people across America, not silence, the folks who are crying out about so many terrible issues that we see everyday, it’s time that we recognize the moment that we’re in the fascism that we’re seeing from the right wing isn’t an illusion, the fascism that we’re seeing can’t be overstated. 

Transcript of remarks: 

Let me first say thank you to everybody who is standing out here obviously standing isn’t the only thing that we’re ready to do. 

I’m honored and I’m grateful to be here with our brothers and service, who have been leading with passion and pride for generations to come– not just the generation that is here today. 

I’m here, because it’s time that our legislative leaders match the energy, the effort, the urgency, and the courage that so many of our young people across this nation and across this world are coming to our leaders with power every single day. We should be ashamed of what we are seeing our country become. 

Right now, we need to be very clear that each and every one of us irrespective of our generation – whether you’re young and fed up, or your old and you’re tired –  plays a role in what our democracy will become, where we will go, and how we’re going to get there. 

As legislators, it’s important that we recognize that our job here is to not silence the voices and the passion of our young people across America; and to not silence the folks who are crying out about so many terrible issues that we see everyday. It’s time that we recognize the moment that we’re in. The fascism that we’re seeing from the right wing isn’t an illusion, the fascism that we’re seeing can’t be overstated. 

We watch every day as our colleagues, not just here in the Capitol right behind us–our legislative counterparts and state legislatures across this country, school boards, and borough councils, folks in the Supreme Court, our courts throughout the nation– the steps that they are willing to take to take power in this country. We see how willing they are to say that “the ends always justify the means”. We have an obligation to respond to that in kind, because they have shown us who they are. It’s time that we believe them. 

When we think about what it takes to strip millions of Americans of their Medicaid or their social security or their veterans benefits; we know who we’re up against. When we see how many Republican legislators are okay with babies in body bags; we know what we’re up against. When we see the climate crisis for what it is, and we see people turn around as if it doesn’t matter.; we see what we’re up against. 

It’s time right now that we all come with the energy of Brother Jones right now. We can’t just say that we’re going to play civil, that we’re going to be polite– there’s a room for that. But when I think about how we actually got here, it’s time that we acknowledge the power of the young folks in this nation.  When I think about how we got to where we are and the energy that we have on our side– the energy that we have yet to tap into– I think about the children’s March and Alabama, that helped us to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1965; I think about the Soweto March of young Black students in South Africa, marching to end apartheid; I think about the young people who are marching out of schools and Tennessee; I think about young people who are at the forefront of our climate crisis; and, I think about how many people would love for them to go home, would love for them to go back to their schools where their bodies are being banned where books are being banned, where they’re expected to bury their heads in the sand like their leaders. Yet, we’re telling them to not have courage because we don’t have it.

So, I’m here today, because it’s time that we in these halls of power recognize that we do have power. It’s time that we answer the moment and answer the call. We cannot leave our brothers in Tennessee hanging any more than we can leave anyone else across this nation hanging. 

Don’t get lost in the sauce of what we’re doing here. It was not a victory just because our brother was reinstated. Remember why he protested. Because of guns, the proliferation of guns in this country is a problem– and it’s time that we solve it.  The victory is going to be when we no longer have a school shooting. The victory will be when the assault rifles are not put above the lives of our children. The victory will be when we’re no longer afraid of going to a Walmart, or a church, or a synagogue, or a school, or on the street. The victory comes when we in this body take the action that you all deserve. 

And I’m here to say that I’m here ready to fight with you. I’m here ready to support your voices to support and harness your energy, and to honor that. So thank you all for coming. And let’s get to work. 

We have solutions. Let’s fight for them.

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