On an unseasonably cool summer evening last week, a raucous crowd blocked off C Street, a swanky residential stretch not far from the Capitol in Washington, D.C. As music blasted from loudspeakers, about 50 members of the LGBTQ community and their allies busted some sick dance moves in front of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s house. It was their way of protesting the so-called healthcare bill, which was negotiated in secret.
The group behind the daylight dance party on C had received an anonymous email with McConnell’s home address, said Carla Aronsohn, one of the organizers.
“By going to his house, we’re giving the message, ‘We’re going to mess with your life if you’re going to mess with ours,’ ” Aronsohn said.
McConnell’s tax-cutting bill will strip healthcare from 22 million people, based on data from the Congressional Budget Office. The LGBTQ community feels particularly vulnerable to the cuts.
The group first gathered at Union Station to pass out rainbow suspenders, sunscreen, bottles of water, and watermelon slices. Then the party people marched through the streets to “show with our bodies, with our voices, with our rad dance moves that this is an issue that is important to LGBT Americans, and it is important to everyone,” said Rebecca Kling of the National Center for Transgender Equality as she assembled a long flagpole, on which she would soon hoist a rainbow flag and the pink, blue, and white Trans flag.
As they set off, they were bookended by the cars of two authority figures: The mother of organizer Firas Nasr drove a station wagon at the head of the parade, and a police car trailed behind, flashing its own disco lights on the tony brownstones.
“We’re out here to send a clear message to the Senate, to Mitch McConnell, and his cronies who wrote the bill that we will not tolerate them writing a bill that is not inclusive of all Americans,” Nasr said. “If they’re not working for the American people, then we will be out here werkin’.”
Nasr, wearing tight shorts and a pink shirt revealing plenty of chest hair, did a split on the asphalt. Balls deep on C Street. Once the group arrived in front of McConnell’s house, they had begun throwing confetti that, as Nasr assured everyone, was biodegradable.
The confetti will not last that long on his sidewalk.
“In Washington, [McConnell] lived in a Capitol Hill townhouse where neighbors saw him come out on a regular basis with a broom in hand to sweep away every last bit of leaf or twig from his stoop,” Alec MacGillis wrote in The Cynic: The Political Education of Mitch McConnell.
MacGillis’ superb 2014 book paints a portrait of McConnell as a man shrewd enough to recognize his own limitations and to compensate for them with procedural or monetary mastery. He relished the process of raising money and used the cash he collected to pay people like former Fox News Chairman and CEO Roger Ailes to create dishonest ads that would discredit his opponents.
McConnell’s lack of scruples may make him the most influential person of our era — and may explain how a man who suffered from polio as a child can craft a bill that punishes people with similar illnesses.
McConnell’s office did not respond to requests for comment.
Against this backdrop, the crowd ecstatically dancing in front of McConnell’s house was even more surprising in its embodiment of outrage and ecstasy. Trump’s popularity is driven, in part at least, by the joy of anger. This is its opposite, the anger of joy. The queer dance party at Mike Pence’s place just before the Inauguration got a lot more attention, but the joyous outrage on display as the evening sun cast a spectacular golden light on all of the shaking booties, upraised fists, and fluttering flakes of confetti – some of which ended up in McConnell’s mail slot – somehow embodied the exact opposite of McConnell, who operates in shadows.
On the day after the dance party, McConnell realized he wouldn’t be able to obtain the votes he needed to pass the bill and postponed it until after the July 4th recess. The delay had everything to do with defecting Republicans and nothing to do with the getting down in front of his abode. Still, on the anniversary of our declaration of independence from England, as people ponder again what America means, I will think of these dancers as they shake it away from McConnell’s house, glowing gorgeous in the slow evening sun.
Democracy in Crisis is a nationally syndicated column based in Washington, D.C. Contact Woods at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow @baynardwoods on Twitter.