Congresswoman Maxine Waters: "Politics Has To Become Part Of Your Life"

Photo: Andrew Toth/Getty Images.
Photo: Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post/Getty Images.
Over the last few months, California congresswoman Maxine Waters has become one of the most visible and outspoken critics of the Trump administration. (Even with her mic cut off.)
In the latest issue of Shonda Rhime's Shondaland newsletter, the ever-busy showrunner interviewed Rep. Waters about her work and the state of politics today, and their conversation was a particularly candid one. In it, the congresswoman explained discussed the ongoing fight over healthcare, dog whistle politics, and her view on the role of young people in politics today. Here are some of the highlights:
"It’s a mean-spirited bill, and I’m so glad that it has not passed," Rep. Waters said, explaining that the bill would lead to more than 20 million people becoming uninsured, from "seniors that would have to pay more money [to] millennials."
She says that she has "hear[d] some rumblings that [Republicans] may want to work with," Democrats on an agreement, but that getting rid of the Affordable Care Act is not on the table.
"Rest assured, we’re not going to have a repeal of Obamacare. We won’t support that."

On The President

She cites everything from pussy-grabbing, to the president's sexist comments about Carly Fiorina, scorn for journalists, and more as having led to her "great dislike" of the president during the campaign and after.
"Aside from watching him and experiencing him all through the campaign, he is such an obvious liar. The man lies constantly and it's obvious," Rep. Waters told Rhimes. "I'm not saying that any of us are perfect. People tend to defend themselves when they fear something, and people do tell untruths. But this is a liar like I've never seen before — a public liar."
To Rhimes' question about why she thinks he has "gotten [away with it] so far," the congresswoman explains her view that xenophobia and racism have contributed to Trump's popularity with some voters.
"My major thought is that he tapped into fear, unhappiness, anger, and racism. All of that played a part," said Rep. Waters. "I think that we have to figure out exactly what the collusion was because I think some of this is out of Putin's playbook."
The congresswoman said that she and her staff have "started to look deeply" into the issue of whether Russians colluded in the presidential election, examining Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and former national security advisor Michael Flynn.
"Whether you talk about Flynn, who was involved at one time with the Russia oil and gas company, or you talk about Wilbur Ross, who has another kind of connection, with the Cyprus Bank — that's the big money laundering bank. When they dig into these investigations, they're going to be able to connect the dots and to see what's driving all of this and why [Russia] wanted Trump to be president," Rep. Waters said.

On Activism

Rhimes also asked Rep. Waters what she thinks everyday people can do to get involved. Her reply? "Show up" — even in very simple ways. She explains that "there's power" in going to rallies and meeting with other people, as well as calling and emailing your senators. However, she cosigns Rhimes' suggestion that attending local assemblies such as school board meetings is also crucial.
"If you are interested in government, in politics, it has to become part of your life. For example, if you are a young person and you love concerts and you love having brunch with your friends and maybe going to Cancun — you have to give up some of that," Rep. Waters said. "Your time has to be divided between relaxation and fun and the work that you think can make a difference in people's lives."
In particular, people who are interested in holding public office should definitely make a place for themselves room where it happens — of which there are many, and on a local level. "If you are interested in politics and you want to run for office or you want to be involved, get involved and be in the environment where the discussions take place and where the work is taking place and get to know the people."
"My hope now lies in these Millennials," Waters said in closing. "Are we getting there? No, we have a long way. We have a lot to do, education-wise. We still need more people on boards — corporate boards and boards of influence. We absolutely need more people in financial services at every level — at the government level, at the private level. Millennials have to get into these positions. Confrontation is not easy for people. It defies everything that you've been taught. But we have to confront the systems."

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