The Tone Deaf Candidate

On the February 26, 2018, episode of Pod Save America, hosts Jon Favreau, Tommy Vietor, and Jon Lovett rapped about the DCCC’s opposition research against Texas District 7 Democratic nominee and founder of anti-Trump campaign Daily Action, Laura Moser.

The former Obama staffers took issue with the opposition research published on the committee’s website, calling it misleading. “[There’s] a quote from her saying ‘Oh I would never want to live in Paris, Texas’ which is 2 hours outside of Houston in a rural area. She loves Houston, she grew up there.” Favreau said. The host was referring to a 2014 Washingtonian article where Moser dismissed the common complaint of housing costs in Washington, DC.

While Paris,Texas is much further than their claim of two hours away, it’s over 300 miles away and a four-hour drive, it’s worth pointing out that Paris, Texas is in a completely different district.

But there’s something to be said about the flippant tone in Moser’s article. In it, Moser states her preference of the District because of its cultural appeal and public transportation. She scoffs at the idea of living in Paris, Texas because her salary would not only be halved, but she’d have limited opportunities in increase it.  

The article takes a turn towards the end, “True, I’d rather not raise my children directly next door to a deaf-mute drug addict who openly smokes crack in the backyard and throws beer cans over our fence and regularly passes me notes reading ‘NEED 1$ [sic],’ but we all make choices in life.”

At best, Moser’s quip is an outdated representation of Washington, DC. At worst, it’s racist.  

From the 1980s to the early 1990’s, the District was the epicenter of the crack epidemic. With over 500 homicides a year, DC earned the title of the nation’s “murder capital,” This left Republicans to question whether or not the city was capable of governing itself. Nearly thirty years later, Washington recovered, achieving what was once an unthinkable milestone. Neighborhoods that were once pegged dangerous have since gentrified. In 2014– the same year when Moser’s article was published, DC proper had decreased to roughly 100 homicides total.

Overall crack usage in the United States has decreased as well. In a 2013  ABC interview, the Drug Enforcement Agency confirmed that crack cocaine is still out on the streets, but its usage as since dwindled, with more people smoking marijuana and using prescription drugs. Columbia University professor Carl Hart also noted that the typical user is no longer the “inner city ‘crack-head’” but actually looks closer to the late Toronto mayor Rob Ford.

Hart’s distinction is important because the crack epidemic impacted a particular community the most: black inner-city residents. Across the country, thousands of black Americans ended up in jail for drug violations. Thousands of them would be killed. Thousands of their children would end up in foster care. All because our government opted to make the epidemic about crime, rather than trying to examine how we could provide addicts the treatment they need. The crack epidemic devastated black communities and has a significant role in DC’s history.

Moser’s decision to use her neighbor for a comedic device should give voters pause. The Washingtonian is a regional magazine: any long-time resident of DC can draw a conclusion from this choice paragraph: she thinks the crack-addicts with disabilities can be used to emphasize her love for DC. They’re novel. They represent the DC’s rich history and grit. Living near one is better than living in *gasp* the Deep South. Live in quieter, safer, suburbs and get representation in Congress? No, give me the row-house next to the crippled addict from the Fifth Ward. It’ll make for a great article someday.  

The article, which would have been found by her potential Republican opponent anyway, still makes a good case against Moser in her own words. At the end of the article, Moser vows she wouldn’t trade her “shabby rowhouse on four major bus routes for a stately manor just outside of Tulsa — not for any price.” Of course, Tuslan suburbs are not Houston. However, there is a common theme in Moser’s article, scoffing at the southern region. Dallas? Mississippi? Paris, Texas? Tulsa? No thanks, says Moser.

Although it was not included in the opposition research, Twitter sleuths managed to dig up a 1999 New York Press article, when Moser was 21-years-old.  Moser marveled at her experience at a specific-unnamed black church. Moser was mystified by the spiritual testimonies, calling them juicier than “any AA sob story” she has ever heard. She claimed people seemed to be possessed to the point where she felt as if she needed to call 911. She referred to their spiritual experience as an orgy. She complained that an overweight woman knocked her down to the floor “planting about 400 pounds of soul directly on [her] now-bruised left calf.” She expressed resentment that a 40-year-old women with children and a lust for pastries had a better body than she did when she was 16-years-old. She ultimate feared coming back. It’s not until the end of the article where it’s revealed she was there to “satisfy anthropological/journalistic curiosity.”

I’d like to think Moser has changed since writing this piece, but her 2014 Washingtonian article tells us otherwise.

It might be easy to feel bad for Moser. Many progressives might wonder, haven’t Democrats learned from 2016? Why can’t they stop slandering their own? But let’s be clear, Moser hasn’t lived in Houston for a while now. During her stay in DC, she turned her nose at the southern region because it wasn’t sophisticated enough for her. While the DCCC was careless in dumping hastily-done opposition research on her, there’s something to be said about a carpetbagger who comes back to her hometown because she feels it’s “her duty.”

Progressive activists leaders might want to be careful when trying to making a progressive martyr out of Laura Moser, or else they risk alienating religious or black voters who may be unaware of a past she has never answered to.

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