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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Wednesday, April 17, 2024

John Fetterman flips the script

The senator from Pennsylvania shows he is not afraid to butt heads with his progressive Democratic colleagues.

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Sen. John Fetterman, D-Pa., is not as progressive as many would assume. Recently, he has been outspoken about his unwavering support for Israel, the need for a border wall and tougher immigration laws. Many have attacked Fetterman, calling his behavior out of character for someone who is supposed to be a Democrat. However, I believe that Fetterman has finally realized that his fellow Democrats are lost at sea.

On the issue of the southern border, Democrats widely assert that supporting a border wall as a form of security is racist. This rhetoric is simply irrational: Without a border, the U.S. isn’t a country. Fetterman rightly critiqued his colleagues, saying, “I hope Democrats can understand that it isn’t xenophobic to be concerned about the border. It’s a reasonable conversation, and Democrats should engage.” He further addressed the 269,735 Customs and Border Protection encounters in September 2023, calling the statistic “astonishing” and equating it to “Pittsburgh showing up there at the border.”

Fetterman has displayed similar political acumen when it comes to Israel. According to NBC, Fetterman’s backing of Israel “breaks sharply with demands by [Sen. Bernie] Sanders [D-Vt.] to withdraw U.S. military aid.” Fetterman crossing Sanders is quite noteworthy, seeing as he endorsed Sanders for president in 2016. Furthermore, Waleed Shahid, a progressive organizer who has been critical of U.S. support of Israel, accused Fetterman of minimizing the lives of Palestinians and displaying “extreme jingoistic support” for the war. This claim is, needless to say, preposterous since the Israel Defense Forces has claimed that Hamas is preventing Palestinian people from evacuating the northern Gaza Strip. The U.S. and Israel are in no way the oppressors. Hamas is evil and needs to be eradicated. 

Fetterman deserves praise for speaking his mind, much to the chagrin of progressive Democrats. ‘Wokeism’ and progressivism have permeated Capitol Hill for a long time. Fetterman has woken up (no pun intended) and realized that many policies and stances of ‘The Squad’ are nothing but detrimental to the country: Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich. is reportedly a member of the Palestinian American Congress Facebook group that has posts glorifying Hamas and which falsely claimed that Israel’s policies are “apartheid.” Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn. asserted in a 2019 tweet that U.S. backing of Israel was “all about the Benjamins baby.” This abominable comment played right into well-known antisemitic tropes, most notably that during the Middle Ages, Jewish people were prevented from entering most professions and thus became moneylenders. This, in turn, “fueled centuries of stereotypes about Jews using money to control the world.”

Congress needs to put order to the chaos unfolding at America’s elite institutions, namely Harvard where antisemitism and plagiarism are condoned — Claudine Gay will remain on Harvard’s faculty and keep her six-figure salary despite stepping down from her position as president in the aftermath of a Congressional hearing on antisemitism on college campuses last month. Fetterman should be applauded for recently introducing legislation that would combat antisemitism on college campuses. He should continue butting heads with his progressive colleagues if it means ensuring a safe environment for Jewish college students.

Fetterman proves that there is still some hope left. Before we totally give up on Congress due to prominent figures and groups like ‘The Squad,’ we should work hard to restore sanity to our country’s most sacred chamber. Joint efforts by Republicans and Democrats have so much potential to do good for the country, but I fear progressives will keep trying to prevent any progress, despite the word ‘progress’ at the root of their name. Fetterman is well-positioned to rally support from within his base and across the aisle, a move that would do great work to suppress progressivism. Fetterman’s policies are moving in the right direction, just like his sartorial choices: He will have great success if he continues wearing suits instead of hoodies and gym shorts to Congress.