Gentleman Jerrold: Our Fierce Warrior in the House

“THE SOUL OF OUR COUNTRY IS ON THE LINE.” Congressman Nadler delivers an urgent message to his constituents at Westbeth. Photo by Maggie Berkvist.

By Catherine Revland
The NRA is Twitterpated over Congressman Jerrold Nadler. “To say it bluntly,” warns #AmmoLand, “the man would be a nightmare for Second Amendment supporters if the Democrats take control of the House.” Aside from being the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, with jurisdiction over the Department of Justice, the FBI, the courts, immigration, and the Constitution, as well as firearms legislation, what is it that makes Nadler so dangerous? “Unlike Charles Schumer and other lovers of media attention, he’s under the radar. He’s much more low-key. He must be kept away from the levers of power.”
#AmmoLand is correct about one thing. Nadler’s style is definitely low-key, but he’s no longer under the radar. At recent televised committee hearings he repeatedly confronted Republican members who were hell-bent on doing outrageous things like leaking information to the White House, but he argued without angry insults or an attack of the vapors. “If you lose, you give them hell,” he says, “but they’re not enemies.”
“Our Democracy Hangs by a Thread” (Nadler to Westbeth Constituents)
The 10th Congressional District (formerly the 8th) covers Manhattan’s West Side from 122nd Street to the Battery, then jumps south to a number of Brooklyn neighborhoods. With one of the highest concentrations of “liberal” Democrats in the country, our district has not sent a Republican to the House of Representatives in a hundred years. Jerry Nadler has served the district for 26 of those years and is consistently reelected with 75 percent or more of the vote. When he addressed his constituents in the Westbeth Community Room in late September, he told them that in the 2016 House race he won 214 of the 218 votes cast in the all-Westbeth 20th E.D. No wonder the meeting was more like a friendly gathering of the likeminded than the usual please-won’t-you-vote-for-me campaign. Villagers are so fond of him because he’s one of those rare politicians who can be trusted, year after year, to represent the will of his constituents—a will that is also his own.
Along with the meeting’s atmosphere of goodwill, however, Nadler delivered one sobering message after another: He talked about the need to support the Vulnerable Ten, members of Congress who are on a Republican hit list, urging us to make phone calls to voters in their districts (see his website for particulars). He talked about voter suppression, Republican ramrodding of the Kavanaugh confirmation hearings, their attacks on FBI and other government officials, the need to protect the Mueller investigation, Trump’s politicizing of the Justice Department, and other “very dangerous things we never thought would happen. That’s where we are now.”
But nothing he said that night could have prepared us for the multiple assaults on humanity that followed: the potential theft of women’s reproductive rights for decades to come; massive voter purges in nine states; the butchering of Jamal Khashoggi; his alleged murderers’ investigation of themselves, with Trump’s blessing; Trump’s fomenting of fear, anger, and violence at rallies; body slamming; body doubles; boofing; brown shirts brawling on the Upper East Side; denial of voting rights to indigenous people who lack numerical proof of where they’ve been living for thousands of years; little children in concentration camps still crying for their parents.
What is happening to our country? What can we do to stop this slide into dystopia?
“For Now, Our Only Redress of Grievances Is at the Polls”
If the Democrats take back the House on November 6, the powers of the subpoena and the gavel will be transferred to the ranking Democrats of 27 committees, ousting some of the most leak-prone Republican obstructionists: Oversight and Government Reform (Elijah Cummings replacing Trey Gowdy, also demoting current subcommittee chairs Jim Jordan, Mark Meadows, and Ron DeSantis); Select Committee on Intelligence (Adam Schiff replacing Devin Nunes); and the all-powerful Judiciary Committee (Jerrold Nadler replacing Bob Goodlatte).
Already the Democratic leadership has set in motion plans to prevent another Saturday Night Massacre. The Senate Judiciary Committee approved legislation to protect the Mueller investigation in April, but Mitch McConnell has refused to take it to the floor. If Democrats win the House, they will pass their own version of the bill. The prioritizing of potential investigations is also in the works. (If Democrats win back the House, an article about these priorities will be published in the December issue.)
In the meantime, here is the voice of Jerry in the night, rallying his troops: “I’ve personally fought Trump many times, and he was a ruthless and dangerous man without the powers of the presidency. Elected officials must wage fierce battles against every regressive action he takes, so we must have sustained and loud voices at our backs. We must refuse to allow the normalization of Trump.”
See you at the polls.

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