After a secret Congressional meeting in Washington D.C. in early 2017, Representative Maxine Waters (D-California) stepped in front of a gaggle of lights and cameras, slammed former FBI Director James Comey as “not credible,” took no questions, and sashayed away, her head held high. Her Comey shade went viral, and suddenly the veteran lawmaker’s Twitter feed ballooned to almost 400k followers, and millennials and progressives nicknamed her “Auntie Maxine.”
Throughout Trump’s campaign and now that he has been elected President, Waters is unrelenting in her calls to impeach the “poor excuse for a man” POTUS.
Waters explained the genesis of her disgust with Trump at the Women’s Health Expo in Long Beach, California in April, when she gave an hourlong, notes-free speech addressing impeachment as well as homelessness, mental health and other problems minorities and poor people face, issues she has tackled throughout her notorious career. “I saw him dishonor, mimic, and mock a disabled human being,” she bellowed like a preacher on Sunday morning. “I heard his words when he said he could grab a woman by her private parts, and get away with it because of who he was. I saw him when he stood in front of the cameras and pointed his finger like a gun and said ‘I could shoot someone on 5th Avenue’ and nothing would happen to him.”
“And so,” Waters asked sarcastically, “I’m supposed to honor him? I am supposed to respect him? No, I want to impeach his ass!”
Waters, along with Representative Al Green (D-Texas), are the two politicos calling for Trump’s impeachment, with Green even taking to the House floor last month to call for the president’s removal. So far, Waters’s vow to get rid of Trump has been limited to fiery speeches to liberal groups and cable television appearances on programs like MSNBC’s AM Joy and CNN Tonight with Don Lemon. Says Waters,”I have decided to put my career on the line to resist Trump.”
Ironically, the POTUS, who regularly tweets out insults against celebrities like Meryl Streep, Snoop Dogg, and Alec Baldwin, has not dared clap back at Waters, even when she staunchly refused to attend his inauguration. Cherise Charleswell, producer and co-host of Feminist Magazine on Pacifica Radio Network: “Bullies simply want to go for the easier targets. Coming for Maxine would be the equivalent of poking a beehive—there will be a swift and most likely brutal response.”
Born 78 years ago in St. Louis, Missouri, Waters is a petite powerhouse with a down-home wit. “We can’t be afraid to talk about these things,” she says at her speech in Long Beach. Waters praised Obamacare for helping low income people and seniors but is worried its GOP-led repeal would be disastrous: “Before [the Affordable Care Act] we didn’t have insurance. Now we can keep our kids on our policy until they are 26. But all that is threatened because of ‘that man’ in the White House,” she said.
During her speech at the Long Beach Expo, Waters described her arrival as a new lawmaker at the California State Assembly and how confusing some of the long-held traditions were.”When I first got there it was the height of the Women’s Movement,” Waters recalled. “The legislature was literally dominated by men and they were not used to some little Black girl speaking up,” she laughed. Waters demanded to know why everyone was being referred to as “man” and promptly introduced legislation to change the vernacular to “assemblyperson.”
Waters urged women to speak up and use their voices to bring about change. “Everyone has a right to an opinion,” Waters said. “Others may not agree with you, but you have a right to your opinion. Freedom of speech is guaranteed by the Constitution. Don’t forget it.”
Waters also told her audience of mostly Black women how she went after insurance companies on behalf of breast cancer survivors. “There was a time when they would not pay for the post-op reconstruction. I changed that law,” she said. Waters garnered international attention in 1996, when she demanded both federal and Congressional investigations of the role the C.I.A may have played in sparking the illegal narcotics explosion in L.A. during the 1980s. ”As someone who has seen how the crack cocaine trade has devastated the South-Central Los Angeles community,” Waters wrote in a letter to then Attorney General Janet Reno. “I cannot exaggerate my feelings of dismay that my own government may have played a part in the origins and history of this problem.”
For all her political prowess, Waters’s 26 years in Congress have not been without scandal. According to The Hill, in April 2010, the House ethics committee accused Waters of violating House rules and the federal ethics code in connection with her effort to arrange a 2008 meeting between Treasury officials and representatives of OneUnited bank, in which her husband of 37 years, ex-NFL linebacker Sid Williams, was heavily invested. Three years later, Waters was cleared of all charges.
As her media profile soars, so have the number of critics and haters. Trump supporters rage against Waters on social media, with sites like American Thinker calling Waters “crazy.” Bill O’Reilly, former host of The O’Reilly Factor, famously said he couldn’t hear what Waters said because her wig reminded him of James Brown’s hairdo. “I will not be intimidated,” Waters said in response to O’Reilly. “Let me just say this: I’m a strong Black woman and I cannot be intimidated. I cannot be undermined. I cannot be thought to be afraid of Bill O’Reilly or anybody.”
Waters, of course is still standing. Her passion and high visibility have inspired young women and men, such as Compton, California’s mayor Aja Brown. In an article in the Long Beach Press Telegram, Brown says Waters’s appeal to the younger generation is because her mince-no-words manner reminds them of a grandmother or other elders who they believe and respect.
Tee Richardson, a Los Angeles-based Special Ed teacher who describes herself as “not really into politics” follows Waters online religiously and admires the way she takes on Trump. “Michelle Obama said ‘when they go low, we go high.’ she said. “Auntie Maxine says ‘if they go low, we go lower.’”
Should Trump eventually be convicted of “high crimes and misdemeanors” and ousted from office, it could likely be because of the fearlessness, determination, and hard work of Auntie Maxine.