Rep. Sarah Vance of Homer was trying to add context to a meeting, saying that Native women aren’t the only victims of sexual and domestic violence, and that all victims deserve justice.
But she forgot about the Democrats’ playbook and how it could come into play in the House Tribal Affairs Committee, where week after week, Alaska Natives testify about the terrible conditions of their lives and how awful things are for Natives in the 49th state, what with the lack of justice and funds.
Vance’s mistake was to say the phrase “white women” in reference to others who have been victims of violence.
On Monday, the House Democrats shamed her and used their go-to standard — performative “gotcha” politics — to score points against the representative from Homer.
It’s straight out of Saul Alinsky “Rules for Radicals” Rule No. 13: Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.
Here’s what Vance had said last Wednesday that spun the Democrats into mobilizing the Rules for Radicals playbook:
“What I hear in this committee is that Alaska Native women feel that it’s exclusive to your experience. Because it sounds exactly what I have heard of white women in my community. It’s the same thing. But what I continue to hear in this committee, over and over again, as if you’re the only one. And I know that’s not your heart,” Vance had said in committee. She said that “white sisters” go through the same thing.
“There’s clearly a mass of Alaskan Native women who have been abused at very high rates, but I can tell you, there are innumerable white women who have the same internal experience of the trauma that Native women have expressed,” Vance said last week.
The Democrats demanded an apology. They issued a lengthy press release filled with indignation.
It was “Rules for Radicals: Rule No. 3: Whenever possible go outside the expertise of the enemy.
“I can’t say how much it hurt my heart to hear of the violence and disparities of violence for indigenous Alaskans, and while the suffering is the same for victims, the causes of that violence are not the same, and the response to that violence is not the same, and the justice for the victims is not the same,” said Rep. Ashley Carrick, a Fairbanks Democrat, in the press release. “Until it is, we have a lot of work left to do. Comments such as those made by Rep. Vance fly in the face of the brave indigenous women who testified before the Tribal Affairs Committee and she should apologize for her words.”
Other Democrats said essentially the same thing: “Apologize!”
It was “Rules for Radicals” Rule No. 4: Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules.
Vance bent to their wishes and issued a heartfelt apology on the House floor on Monday.
“What I should have said is evil does not discriminate,” Vance said, as she attempted to apologize to a group that was making hay at her expense. Although the House minority had been advised that she would apologize during the floor session, they had issued their demand anyway, just moments before the floor session.
Radicals’ Rule No. 8: Keep the pressure on.
“Numerous Alaskans traveled from across the state to visit legislators and advocate for MMIWG2S legislation and were in the room during Rep. Vance’s insensitive and harmful comments which neglected the immediate crisis facing Alaskan Natives,” the Democrats said in their release, which was unusually long for a press release.
The Tribal Affairs Committee had been told by Native testifiers that over half of Native women report having experienced sexual violence at some point in their lives
Vance wasn’t wrong: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over half of all American women and one in three American men have experienced sexual violence.
The righteous indignation of the Democrats and the drama created for the media was reminiscent of when Republican Women of Juneau posted an ad that said anyone voting for Jesse Kiehl for senator would be handing over their wallets. The Democrats accused the women’s club of being anti-semitic and created a flurry of media attention. That attack on Republicans made it all the way to the Washington Post, with this headline: “Republicans attack Jewish candidates across the U.S. with an age-old caricature: Fistfuls of cash.”
It’s Alinsky’s Rule No. 6: A good tactic is one your people enjoy.
The Democrats enjoyed picking on the Homer Republican this past week, and forcing her to apologize to them was a demonstration of the successful tactic of Alinsky’s Rule No. 1: Power is not only what you have but what the enemy thinks you have.