How to Keep the House and Senate “Blue?”—Follow Fighting Democratic Senator Brian Schatz’s Playbook May 3, 2022
I just don’t get it. For our supposedly intelligent party, far too many Democrats don’t seem to understand that the only way to answer GOP blatant lies and utter nastiness is to hit back and hit back ceaselessly. How many times have we heard members of “Team Blue” being rightfully accused of bringing a knife to a gun fight with GOP adversaries and then getting clobbered? What do we expect when we don’t defend ourselves? Didn’t we learn once and for all in 1988 when H.W. Bush destroyed then front-running Dem. Presidential nominee Michael Dukakis over Willie Horton, Boston Harbor pollution, the flag salute, etc. that you can’t sit back and just “take it.” And sorry, Michelle Obama. I know you got a lot of kudos for your 2016 convention speech when you said, “When they (Republicans) go low, we (Democrats) go high.” However, the low information voter, the vast majority of Americans, unfortunately, only hear the negative GOP charges. Most political scientists have repeatedly and correctly explained that negative campaigning, unless countered immediately, works. Finally, many Democratic activists are starting to get the “fight back” message, just in time, we hope, for the 2022 midterms. Michigan Democratic state Senator Mallory McMorrow responded hard to GOP attacks on her as a child pervert. Her four-minute response attacking GOP hypocrisy over “protecting” children rightfully went viral and received high positive remarks (Einenkel, dailykos.com, 4/20/22).
McMorrow, as noted, is a State Senator. However, McMorrow’s attacks on GOP liars work just as well at the national level. Exhibit A—Democratic Senator Brian Schatz. Sen. Schatz recently took on GOP extremist Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO). “Howling” Hawley is up there in the “Red” wacko “Hall of Fame” along with Sen. Ted “Cancun” Cruz (R-TX). Egomaniac Hawley thinks he is brilliant because he once clerked for Supreme Ct. Chief Justice John Roberts. Hawley held up the staffing of Biden’s Defense Department, a crucial matter with the Russian-Ukraine war currently going on. Because of this action, Sen. Schatz rightfully pulverized this MO demagogue. Sen. Schatz first pointed out that Hawley was a January 6, 2021 riot sympathizer. In Schatz’s words, “He (Hawley) is blocking the staffing of the senior leadership at the Department of Defense. And this comes from a guy who raised his fist in solidarity with the insurrectionists.” Schatz added, “And this comes from a guy who, before the Russian invasion, suggested it would be wise for (Ukrainian leader) Zelensky to make a few concessions about Ukraine and their willingness to join NATO.” Schatz reminded Hawley that about “a month ago, he voted against Ukraine aid. He says it’s going too slow. He voted no.” And, finally, Sen. Schatz attacked Hawley for exonerating Donald after he withheld lethal aid for Ukraine. Schatz shouted about Hawley, “Spare me the new solidarity with the Ukrainians and with the free world. Because this man’s (Hawley’s) record is exactly the opposite. I yield the floor (dailykos.com, 4/08/22, Willies, E.).” Schatz may have yielded the Senate floor after finishing this strong speech, but his words keep reverberating. Schatz’s speech ranks up with that of his state counterpart McMorrow. Schatz received strong praise for ripping up “Howling” Hawley. Many Democrats now realize that “making nice” with the GOP is a recipe for a 2022 midterm wipeout. The only way to keep the Senate and House is to adopt Schatz’s fight back plus playbook. The public believes that if Democrats don’t fight back against GOP false charges, how can they govern the nation? Meet Senator Schatz.
Brian Schatz (49) is currently Hawaii’s senior U.S. Senator. A native of Ann Arbor, Michigan, Schatz was born into a Jewish-American family, with an identical twin brother, Stephen. At age two, Brian Schatz’s family moved to Hawaii, where his father, a cardiologist, took a job at the University of Hawaii (Cohen & Cook, 2022 Political Almanac, Arndt, D., annarbor.com/news, 12/27/12). Schatz stated that he was influenced to go into public service because of his father’s actions in the field of medical ethics. In the mid-1960’s, Schatz’s father Irwin became aware of the notorious decades-long study by the U.S. Public Health Service in Tuskegee, Alabama in which poor Black sharecroppers with syphilis were left untreated so researchers could study the effects of that disease. Schatz’s father wrote a letter of protest to health officials that helped trigger a public debate that led to new standards governing research on human subjects. After graduating from HI’s prestigious Punahou School, also Barack Obama’s alma mater, Brian Schatz went to CA’s Pomona College. While there, he studied abroad in Kenya. Schatz graduated from Pomona College in 1994 and returned to HI and worked as a community organizer. His work included heading a beach preservation group and later running a social services agency (Cohen & Cook, 2022).
In 1998, Schatz won election to an urban Honolulu district and served for eight years (1998-2006) in the HI House. In 2006, he unsuccessfully ran for an open U.S. House seat, but lost the primary to former Lt. Gov. Mazie Hirono, now his U.S. Senate colleague. In 2006, Schatz urged Obama to run for President. He served as spokesperson for the Obama campaign in HI before being elected chair of the state’s Democratic Party in the spring of 2008. In 2010, he ran for Lt. Gov. of HI and won by 17 points. As Lt. Gov., Schatz worked on energy, climate issues, and helped pass same-sex civil unions. When HI’s 88- year-old U.S. influential Senator Daniel Inouye died six weeks after the 11/2012 election, Dem. Gov. Abercrombie chose Schatz as his successor. Schatz won a close primary race in 2014 for the remaining two years of the late Sen. Inouye’s term. Schatz clobbered his GOP rival in 11/2014 in the Senate special election taking nearly 70% of the vote. In 2016, Schatz won election to a full term of his own with a similar 70% of the vote. Schatz will be running for re-election in 2022 (Cohen & Cook, 2022).
Since his election to the U.S. Senate, Schatz has emerged as an outspoken progressive voice. He crafts and puts on Twitter comprehensive legislative proposals on high-profile issues. Longtime Senate leadership aide and Democratic strategist Jim Manley stated that Schatz is “well-liked within the (Senate Democratic) caucus. He’s someone folks listen to. If given a chance, he has an opportunity to be a significant player in the Senate (Cohen & Cook, 2022).” According to “New York Magazine,” Schatz is a progressive, but not in the “bomb-thrower mode.” He is considered a low-profile yet highly influential legislator who pushes fellow Democrats to adopt progressive policy positions (nymag.com, Debenedetti, G., 7/19/18). Schatz sits on major committees including Senate Appropriations, Commerce, Science & Transportation, and Foreign Relations. He also sits on the Indian Affairs Committee, a post that is crucial to Native Hawaiians (CQ Congress At Your Fingertips, 117th Congress, Cohen & Cook). The 2022 Almanac gave Schatz a 2019-2020 composite Liberal v. Conservative 91%-9% score. He has received 100% ratings from the liberal ADA, Americans for Democratic Action, labor’s AFL-CIO, and the LCV, League of Conservation Voters. The American Conservative Union gave him a near basement lifetime 3% score in 2013 (Cohen & Cook, 2022, votesmart.org). Schatz is pro-choice and was given a 100% rating by NARAL Pro-Choice America (votesmart.org). As he was in HI, Schatz is a leading Senate supporter of LGBTQ rights including same-sex marriage. He sponsored legislation to allow married gay couples to have legislative equal rights access to veterans benefits and Social Security (votesmart.org).
In the environmental area, Schatz authored a 2015 amendment to the Keystone XL Pipeline bill that would put lawmakers on record as to whether they believe “climate change is real and human activity significantly contributes to it.” The amendment, the first Senate vote on climate change in eight years, received 50 votes, including 5 from GOPers. He is a strong supporter of gun control and engaged with fellow Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) in a 2016 filibuster to try to push that issue (slate.com, Mathis-Lilly & Hanon, 6/15/16). He supports Obamacare and introduced his own proposal that would allow states to expand Medicaid into a universal system (vox.com, Stein & Scott, 8/23/17). Schatz is also a strong believer in making college affordable. He has proposed matching grants to states committed to providing debt-free education covering tuition and all other expenses for public university students (Cohen & Cook, 2022).
Schatz was never any friend of Demagogue Donald. When Donald called neo-Nazis, KKKers, and other white supremacists “very fine people” after the fatal Charlottesville, VA riot, Schatz tweeted, “As a Jew, as an American, as a human, words cannot express my disgust and disappointment. This is not my President.” In 2019, Schatz introduced an amendment to abolish the outdated Electoral College. However, the GOP-controlled Senate killed this proposal which helped put “W” Bush and Demagogue Donald in the Oval Office (Cohen & Cook, 2022).
Relatively young Senator Schatz can now be easily re-elected in his solidly “Blue” and ethnically diverse state as long as he wants. In 2017, Schatz was named one of three chief deputy whips, an indication of his up-and-coming status and a tribute to his strong fundraising ability (See Cohen & Cook , 2022). His fellow “Team Blue” Senators and rank-and-file Democrats should, therefore, keep paying attention to what he says and does. Schatz has stated that the agenda he wants to pass must be “on a scale that is equal to the problems (we face) and has the ability to actually motivate voters (Cohen & Cook, 2022). Get that? “Motivate voters.” Almost every day, the major media outlets keep yelling about how the 2022 midterms will be an “utter disaster for the Democrats.” The 2022 midterms will only be a disaster if Democrats get disillusioned by these media “process stories” and decide to stay home. There are more of us than them (GOP voters). We must understand that the only way to win is fighting like Schatz does against lying “Howling” Hawley and his GOP gang. Biden has already passed two out of three major bills, the infrastructure and COVID recovery ones that are the equivalent of at least 1960 LBJ-type legislation. He is brilliantly opposing butcher Putin by holding the Western alliance together and standing behind Ukraine. Yes, conservative Democrats Joe Manchin (D-WVA) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) torpedoed the “Build Back Better” social legislation. However, if we come out in droves plus and elect at least two more Democratic Senators and keep the House, we can pass these bills and other related legislation. If we stay home divided and whining, we will get Mitch McConnell in the Senate and Kevin McCarthy or someone similar in the House who will destroy the progressive Biden/Pelosi/ Schatz agenda. Kudos, Sen. Schatz for showing us how to fight GOP lies! Now, let’s do our part by voting.