'Women in His Grill': Is Tea Party Congressman Brat the Biggest Chicken in the House?
Congressman Dave Brat has faced a lot of criticism in the past weeks in Virginia’s 7th District. He faced even more when he came into the national spotlight about a week ago—and for good reason. After refusing to host Town Hall meetings for his constituents in Virginia’s 7th District until 100 days into the Trump presidency, the second-term Congressman (who affiliates with the Tea Party) was recorded saying some not-so-flattering things about “the women” at what can only be described as a stand-up comedy routine with a bit of policy talk thrown in for good measure.
While the second-term Congressman said a lot of things that rubbed many of his constituents the wrong way, one statement was particularly notable. Early into his speaking engagement—which, by the way, was given in Virginia’s 1st District on January 28, while he is still refusing to host a similar event in his own District—Dave Brat hinted at why he wasn’t open to talking to his own constituents despite heading to Arizona to speak at a Town Meeting there later this month.
“Since Obamacare and these issues have come up, the women are in my grill wherever I go,” Brat said to a room full of Republican supporters in Virginia’s 1st District. “They come up and they ask me ‘when’s your next town hall?’ and—believe me—it’s not to give positive input.” The statement was met with a hearty round of laughter from the crowd as Brat chuckled at his own hilarious disregard for the concerns of the people he was elected to represent.
One such woman—who is most certainly “in his grill”—is Maureen Hains, a 33-year-old resident of Midlothian, Virginia and the founder of the 7th District Town Hall Meeting Facebook Group (which has over 1,000 members at this time). In fact, it might just be Hains and her friends who Brat was referring to in his insensitive and misogynistic speech. See, as Brat became more and more evasive regarding his constituents’ requests for a Town Hall meeting regarding the Obamacare repeal, Hains decided she could no longer take it. Although she says she’s “never had a background in local politics,” Hains decided she had to do something after getting “the runaround from Rep. Brat’s office.”
And what was she calling them about about? The date and time of the next Town Hall meeting hosted by the Congressman who she voted for.
Yes, that’s right. Despite painting “the women” as the enemy of reason and conservative values in his bizarro Def Comedy Jam-style speech to a room of mostly male supporters, it turns out that at least some of the women he’s referring to actually did vote for him, which would indicate that they at least agree with some of what he wants to do.
That hasn’t stopped Brat from painting Maureen and the rest of his discontented constituents as “rich liberals” and “paid activists” as an excuse to dismiss their concerns without a second thought. Hains isn’t upset about the policies necessarily (though she does feel uneasy about the promise to “destroy” the Johnson Amendment among a few others), it’s Brat’s apparent contempt for the people he represents that got her fired up and ready to fight.
The aforementioned video didn’t help his case, of course. Maureen explained that she “was abhorred he would refer to his constituents as ‘the Women.'” She said that “it reminded [her] of Donald Trump’s rhetoric with ‘the Mexicans’ and ‘the Blacks.’ [Brat] doesn’t realize that it’s not just women who want to be heard.” But that wasn’t the biggest problem. She founded the group before Brat’s speech had even happened.
While Hains said she found the Congressman’s comments “condescending and sexist,” she explained that her concerns do not lie only with what he may or may not plan to do. “I’m concerned he’s changed. I’m concerned he’s become a sell out. I’m concerned that he is lying when he says he wants people’s voices to be heard. I’m concerned he doesn’t care how his actions in the first 100 days will affect his constituents,” she explained.
And that’s an important distinction to make. Just because you demand transparency from your representatives does not mean that you are opposing them or out to criticize—which seems to be what Brat doesn’t understand (that said, Dave Brat, I, personally, oppose everything you are doing, just FYI). “The women” who are up in his grill aren’t out to get him. It’s not a witch hunt. It’s not an attempt to demonize him or his supporters. They want to do their civic duty and make their voices heard.
“His defensive argument that he’s held so many town hall meetings in the past doesn’t answer our question. We’re not asking if he’s done them before, we know he has, we are simply asking, ‘When is the next Town Hall meeting?’ It’s not an accusation, it’s a question. We still have not heard the answer,” Hains explained of her position. “You can’t represent if you won’t listen to both sides.”
That seems pretty reasonable to me, Congressman. Seriously, if you can’t wrap your head around that, get out of politics and make way for someone who actually cares about the will of the people.
The last few weeks have been fatiguing to say the least, but Maureen Hains’ story does speak to one important silver lining to the current political situation: the apathy that has marked American politics for far too long seems to be coming to an end. People all over the country who have never participated in the political process (outside of voting) are getting involved which actually bodes well for the future of our country.
Although things are admittedly bleak in Washington at the moment, the renewed interest in defending our rights as citizens—from marriage equality and healthcare to church/state separation and access to our representatives— indicates that, if we make it through the next few years (months? days? weeks?), we will be in a better place than we ever have been—and this time, it seems, women are leading the fight.
So, get used to us being in your grill, Congressman. “The women” aren’t going anywhere… Except maybe to Washington to take your job.