Members of Congress departed for a seven-week vacation at the same time that the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) national eviction moratorium expired on July 31. The Squad, a subset of members of the House of Representatives who espouse Bernie Sanders’ policy agenda, gathered at the Capitol building to demand that Congress come back to work and hold a vote to renew the moratorium. Cori Bush, Jamal Bowman, and other Squad members slept on the Capitol steps overnight as part of the ongoing protest. Critics on social media pointed out that the rally was too little, too late while others remarked that the low attendance of the rally, comprised mainly of political surrogates, rendered the action nothing more than a photo opportunity for the Squad.
Founder of Black Agenda Report (BAR) Glen Ford died three days before the protest. Ford strongly opposed the politics of diversity, which privilege political representation over substantive policy demands and the popular power required to achieve them. He closely monitored the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) to demonstrate that voting for elected officials who look and behave like their constituents does not necessarily equate to representation. Ford led BAR’s effort to expose how the CBC, for example, voted in large majorities to militarize U.S. police departments and enshrine their officers with protected class status under federal hate-crime legislation.
The Squad rose to prominence following Barack Obama’s two-term presidency. Obama represented the pinnacle of diversity. Obama was famously touted as a victory in the long, hard struggle of Black Americans for human rights, yet his administration greatly expanded the theater of the U.S. war machine and enacted a broad policy agenda friendly to the rich. Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign emerged from the economic discontent once encapsulated by Occupy Wall Street — a protest movement that Obama’s DHS and FBI brutally repressed at the tail end of his first term. In a pivot away from protest, an increasingly left-leaning Democratic Party base placed their energy into electing “progressive” members of Congress.