For some reason, when I think of Congresswoman Maxine Waters, I think of the late Dale Earnhardt.

Once upon a time, I nursed a more than passing interest in NASCAR. NASCAR is more complex and strategic than it looks at first glance. So was Dale Earnhardt. Nicknamed “The Intimidator”, Earnhardt’s aggressive driving style was the stuff of legend in the NASCAR world. He made other drivers feel uncomfortable. He made them feel unsafe. The most dangerous part of a driver’s racing day was often when Earnhardt appeared in the rear view. People usually decided it wasn’t worth it to try the man. If a race came down to contest of nerves, the smart money favored Earnhardt to take the checkered flag, and anything else along the way.

One could call Maxine Waters an “Intimidator”. Her most intimidating quality: an abject refusal to be intimidated. Human beings are naturally social creatures. We thrive on conformity and passively offer up innumerable forms of social compliance that must usually be paid as the cost of acceptance. To be accepted in society is to be cowed by the intimidating specter of disapproval and isolation. People as social creatures simply do not know what to do with someone who will not be cowed, someone who does not mind being out on a limb.

Congresswoman Maxine Waters of California’s 43rd District cannot be silenced. She cannot be distracted with deflective word salad responses to her questions. She cannot be stopped from reclaiming her time.

She cannot be mocked or shamed into compliance when compliance conflicts with her own moral compass. And threatening her only makes her mad. More committed. More certain that she must be onto something. Some fool thought he’d try to scare her with pipe bombs. He sent her two. If fear was his goal, he just wasted postage.

“Auntie Maxine” is known as a caring, almost maternal figure outside the arena but the stuff of political nightmares once the bell rings. She shows up for work ready to play the baddest of bad cops. Except she’s not really playing. She’s not “method” acting so much as living the role. And the good cops don’t know what to do.

If you’re the popcorn-munching type, you know to bring an extra large, extra buttery bucket when the Congresswoman’s on the tube. Auntie Maxine’s in town, and she puts on a helluva show.

It’s not surprising to watch folks on both sides of the aisle miss the point of Maxine Waters. Too many on the left waste energy trying to contain her. Instead of joining her in political fights for which she could use extra hands, they too often leave her alone to catch javelins by herself or grumble about how she needs to settle down. But she won’t settle. And she’s not scared of javelins. She welcomes them. Especially when she knows she’s right on the facts and right on morality.

Most of us only realized the full extent of James Comey’s professional hypocrisy after the release of his memoir “A Higher Loyalty”. If you were smart, maybe you realized it after his June 2017 testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee. Congresswoman Waters was way ahead of us, declaring he had “no credibility” shortly after his first post-electoral classified briefing.

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Before folks like Cornel West and Tavis Smiley opportunistically turned their bitterness at being sidelined by President Obama into fashionably contrarian critiques of his failures regarding the black community, Congresswoman Waters made regular habit of speaking truth to power. Enough to make him uncomfortable.  Enough to make him feel unsafe. Enough to make him declare that it was time to “stop complaining”.

Our own beloved Barack Obama couldn’t long take the heat from Auntie Maxine. Power-brokers on the left can barely see her on television without experiencing massive flop sweat. If she makes her friends that uncomfortable, it’s no surprise that her enemies have built her into the Boogeyman. Baba Yaga. In all fairness to their histrionics, she may very well be.

Waters has been one of the few elected officials brave enough to publicly and repeatedly and persistently call attention to the President’s electoral legitimacy problems and the civic necessity for impeachment based on his exponentially expanding resume of wrongdoing.

The best responses the right can muster have been to talk about her hair, or try to label her as “a low I.Q. individual”, or lie by suggesting people like her are calling for impeachment without any reason. Unwillingness to argue on the basis of the facts is the same as surrender, a flailing admission of intellectual defeat. They know they have no counterargument beyond insults and lies. Such is the magic of Auntie Maxine. An Intimidator in action.

It should tell us something interesting that an extreme percentage of America’s most visible recent boogeymen have actually been women. Women whose mere presences suggest impending changes in or challenges to our society’s existing power structure. Women who won’t quietly go away. Michelle Obama when she first appeared. Hillary Clinton. Nancy Pelosi. The survivors who have come forward as part of the MeToo movement. That group really had a lot of men shook.

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Many who have been caricatured as scary figures try to convince the world they’re not the Boogeyman. Michelle Obama tried and succeeded, becoming one of America’s most beloved figures, right up there with Oprah Winfrey and Ellen Degeneres. Hillary Clinton tried and failed. Nancy Pelosi tries and fails and tries again.

I try every day when I walk outside and ashamedly find myself smiling for the express purpose of making strangers around me feel comfortable and “safe”. Maxine Waters does not try. She smiles for herself. She is not going to smile for you. She is not going to make you more comfortable than you deserve to be. She is not interested in convincing you she’s not the Boogeyman. She’s okay with whatever you want to call her. She’s still coming with the truth, hunting down anyone who has cause to be intimidated by the truth.

America has never been ready for Maxine Waters’ type of assertiveness.  To assert is to affirm one’s inherent right to unapologetic self-determination. How dare she. How dare so many of us. For too many Americans, love of country translates to a concept of elevation, a land of milk and honey where one’s supremacy is taken as given.

It’s an intoxicating myth, the survival of which is and has been dependent on a a very toxic bloodstream. For some to be artificially elevated as “better” in a mythical system, others have to be artificially degraded as “worse”. For the system to work, people have to “know their place” and stay there. People have to be willing to actively try to keep people in their place. Keeping some of us “in our place” in society has for so long been essential to the perceived ability of others to keep their place, to keep the myth. Auntie Maxine will not be kept. She’s coming. And she’s reclaiming our time.

In a number of ways, the 2018 midterm elections were a mixed and slightly disappointing bag. The Democratic takeover of the House was crucial for averting immediate civic implosion of our republic, but the Republican gains in the Senate and surprisingly close gubernatorial races should send a chill up moral America’s spine. People in certain parts of the country are doubling down on racism and lawlessness. People in certain parts of the country are doubling down on family separation, hardline immigration policies, the repudiation of progressivism and indifference to the MeToo movement.

The election apparently sent an emboldening signal to the President, strong enough to make him feel comfortable finally making a move on his “beleaguered” attorney general. With the installation of a loyalist who has yet to be confirmed by the Senate, there now exists a very real possibility that the Mueller investigation may be stopped, defunded, or suppressed by the burying of any report. Even if said report were released, there is good reason to believe the current Senate would never convict on any impeachment charges recommended, not without public airing of irrefutable evidence and a massive shift in public opinion.

The President feels emboldened by the current state of things, but still scared for some reason. Scared enough to threaten the House with “a warlike posture” if Democrats try to use their newfound subpoena power to investigate him. I suspect that’s where he went wrong. Nancy Pelosi might be averse to conflict and intimidated by phrases like “warlike posture”. But not Maxine Waters. Quite the opposite. All she heard was that there’s very likely a sizable pot of gold waiting at the end of this investigative rainbow.

With the party changeover in the House, Congresswoman Waters is now the first in line to sit as new Chair of the House Finance Committee. Armed with subpoena power and a reasonable functional mandate to look into and publicize the President’s finances. We’re talking tax returns. Shady deals. Monetary links between foreign actors that may have or currently are benefiting from White House policy. Corrupt cabinet officials. Motives to collude with a hostile foreign power or obstruct any investigations into relationships with said hostile power.

The truth is about to see more daylight that it’s seen in many years. Is the American public ready to deal with something that’s been buried for so long? My suspicion is that, whatever Congresswoman Waters finds, it’s not going to smell like roses. And the President knows it. That’s why he’s “shook”. That’s why he’s trying to intimidate. It’s just unlucky for him that he picked the wrong one.

Washington should batten down the hatches. The President of the United States should batten down the hatches. If the last President didn’t get let off the hook for his failings, there’s a zero percent chance the current one will find the political clemency or social cowardice he so desperately seeks. Those who’ve been targeted, maligned, and civically terrorized by this President should find hope brewing in their hearts this holiday season. There’s a new Boogeywoman on the loose. A previously faked apparition made real by new powers. Auntie Maxine is upon us, dear friends. Baba Yaga. Is. Here.

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