Mallory McMorrow goes on the attack after a smear
When Mallory McMorrow woke up last Monday morning, she found herself transformed into a creature she didn’t recognize.
Michigan State Senate colleague Lana Theis had sent a fundraising email accusing her of wanting to “groom and sexualize” children. Theis, a Republican who clung to Donald Trump’s fantasy of a stolen 2020 election, had fabricated an outrageous libel against someone who wasn’t even a direct political opponent.
McMorrow was, in his own words, “livid”.
A relatively new lawmaker and mother of a one-year-old, McMorrow was also genuinely shocked. Although she had watched Republicans across the country push for a series of new laws limiting how teachers can talk about gender and sexuality, she never expected to be personally drawn into the fight.
“The fact that you could just throw that accusation at me was so deeply hurtful,” she said in an interview, adding that Theis’ email was “despicable and disgusting.”
What happened next was the kind of moment around which political careers are born.
McMorrow “kind of sat back in the feelings for the day and thought about how awful I felt,” she recalled. During her 90-minute commute from suburban Detroit to Lansing, Michigan’s capital, she wrote and rewrote possible answers in her head. She consulted with LGBTQ people she knew to get their input.
Then she decided to fight back. Hard.
The resulting speech, delivered on the floor of the Michigan State Capitol on Tuesday, was watched and shared by hundreds of thousands of Americans in the days that followed. Summoning all the righteous fury she felt, McMorrow ripped Theis for promoting a “hollow and hateful plan”.
“So who am I?” she says. “I am a straight, white, Christian, married, suburban mother who knows that the very idea that learning about slavery, redlining or systemic racism somehow means that children are taught to feeling bad or hating themselves for being white is absolute nonsense. ”
She continued, “I want every kid in this state to feel seen, heard, and supported, not marginalized and targeted because they’re not straight, white, and Christian.”
Left-wing activists, frustrated that so few elected Democrats are speaking out on the Republican offensive on LGBTQ issues, cheered. Cable TV reservations lined up. Jimmy Kimmel did a segment. President Biden called her and thanked her for saying “a lot of the right thing to say,” she recalled. She raised a quarter of a million dollars in less than 24 hours – an astronomical sum for a state legislator.
“She’s expressing what a lot of people are feeling,” said Jim Wallis, a progressive theologian at Georgetown University, who called McMorrow a “threat” to the religious right. “She represents more people than she can even imagine.”
A rising Democrat in Michigan
Days before the episode, McMorrow was one of three Democratic lawmakers to drop a prayer given by Theis to open the legislative session.
Summons are generally boilerplate non-denominational. But this one was different.
“Dear Lord, across the country we see in the news that our children are under attack,” Theis said, alluding to “forces that desire things for them other than what their parents would have them see, hear. and know”.
Learn more about Elon Musk’s bid for Twitter
“For me, it was a misuse of that moment,” McMorrow said.
She tweeted after the walkout, “Without sharing or repeating any hurtful words to the closed-minded sitting senator under the guise of a ‘prayer,’ to every child in Michigan – you are perfect and welcome and loved for being exactly who are you.”
Theis did not respond to a request for comment.
Some pundits have compared McMorrow to Wendy Davis, the Texas state legislator whose filibuster at the tennis shoe of an abortion bill in 2013 elevated her, briefly, into the national conversation. .
But unlike Davis, who then tried unsuccessfully to gain higher office, McMorrow hails from a tightly divided state. Michigan Democrats are trying to hold on to the governorship and retake the Legislature after an independent commission redraws what had been heavily gerrymandered districts.
And McMorrow, who was first elected in 2018 and is just 35, is seen in the state as one of the most promising young talents in the Democratic Party, with a host of opportunities ahead of her.
“I considered her a rock star even before last week,” said Jeff Timmer, former executive director of the Republican Party of Michigan who now backs the Democrats. He said the speech could help position McMorrow for a statewide run in the future.
For its part, the Michigan Republican Party has been troubled by Trump’s obsession with the 2020 election, and the Trump wing has prevailed so far. At its state convention on Saturday, the party endorsed nominees for attorney general and secretary of state who support the former president’s false claims.
“You came after the wrong mother”
McMorrow draws a line between the right’s focus on gender in schools and its focus on questioning the past.
“It’s about finding and creating issues that create moral panic that target marginalized groups of people as a way to distract, as a way to instill fear and make people hate someone and fear him deeply,” she said.
His speech struck a chord on the left, Democrats said, as many in the party are hungry for someone to engage Republicans in these kinds of cultural battles, whether it’s critical theory of race or transgender rights. Democratic campaigns and candidates often find themselves paralyzed by attacks from the right, while their consultants advise them to change the subject to talk about pocket issues like jobs and health care.
Speaking out now was important, McMorrow said, for two main reasons.
The first was moral. “We can’t constantly ask the LGBTQ community to stand up for themselves,” she said. “Because as long as we stay away, it will continue to happen.”
And the second was political. “We’ve seen over the past few years that if we’re afraid to say anything, it just keeps growing,” she said. “Because there is no repression. There is no consequence. »
Her message to Theis, and others like her?
“You came after the wrong mother, frankly.”
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Could Elon Musk bring Trump back to Twitter?
The imminent purchase of Twitter by Elon Musk, if his takeover goes as planned, could have a seismic effect on American politics in the long term.
But there’s one way the Tesla mogul could have an immediate impact: by bringing Donald Trump back.
Musk offered only crumbs of information about his intentions and did not respond to email questions on Monday. But his cryptic tweets and public communications with Twitter’s current management suggest he’s driven by concern, prevalent on the right, that the social media company has gone too far in banning certain types of speech on its platform.
On Monday, for example, Twitter announced that it would not allow advertising that denies the scientific consensus on climate change. For better or worse, a freer Twitter could radically alter the site’s complexion, allowing factually questionable narratives and manipulations of the kind that flourished in the 2016 election.
An immediate question is whether buying Musk would bring back the former president, whose account was permanently suspended by Twitter two days after the Jan. 6 riot. At the time, @realdonaldtrump had over 88 million followers, and Trump’s explosive online persona exerted an immediate and powerful hold on his party and American political life in general.
“As someone who was the subject of his press release attacks, they don’t pack the same punch as his tweets,” said Alyssa Farah Griffin, former White House communications director under Trump.
But Trump’s return could cut in two ways.
“Reforming Trump would take us back to the world in which all of our political discourse is perpetually turned upside down by his tweets,” said Jesse Lehrich, a former Hillary Clinton spokesperson who helped found a nonprofit focused on people. technology companies and political discourse.
On the other hand, voters have consistently told pollsters they disapprove of Trump’s tweets, so his presence could also benefit Democrats who desperately need a bad guy politically.
“Democrats would love to see it again, if only to change the subject of inflation and inefficiency,” said Liam Donovan, a Republican lobbyist in Washington.
“Republicans who are paid to win elections would have considerable heartburn,” he added.
Trump told Fox News on Monday that he would not return to Twitter.
“I hope Elon buys Twitter because he will improve it and he’s a good man, but I’m going to stick with Truth,” the former president said, referring to his own Twitter-like platform. TruthSocial.
Jason Miller, a former Trump spokesperson who is now the chief executive of Gettr, another Twitter clone, said he didn’t expect Trump to change his mind.
“My perception of talking with him and his public comments is that he’s more buried here,” Miller said.
But Truth Social has struggled to gain traction since its introduction this year, and an overhaul of Twitter’s speech policies could undermine the new Trump site’s positioning as a haven for persecuted conservatives.
Other recent comments from Trump suggest he enjoyed engaging in a fight with critics on Twitter – a feature that is decidedly absent from the right-wing monoculture of his new platform.
“It was a Twitter war, but it was a very interesting war,” Trump said this month. “We would fight it both ways and that was great.”
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