An editor at the left-wing website Vox is rallying to the defense of political newcomer and self-described Democratic Socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez because the congressional candidate is facing gender discrimination.
Calling Ocasio-Cortez an “emerging Democratic star,” Laura McGann wrote that she and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) share a lot in common — except for the reaction they receive from political movers and shakers:
Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez are both self-described democratic socialists. They both energize the left. And they both rocketed out of obscurity to the center of the political debate. But there’s a difference in how the Washington establishment treats them. Sanders skeptics attack his ideas; they challenge him. Ocasio-Cortez’s critics not only critique her words but question whether she should have a voice in the public debate at all.
“This is a person not ready for prime time, certainly not ready for Congress,” the ever-quoted voice of the Washington establishment Norm Ornstein tweeted in response to her answer on a question about Israel. “She should stop campaigning & do a crash course on basics, including economics and foreign policy. Otherwise, she will stumble badly out of the blocks and do major damage. Early impressions hard to erase.”
Ornstein was referring to Ocasio-Cortez’s bizarre remarks about Israel in a PBS interview in July after her unexpected win over Democratic Party caucus chair Rep. Joe Crowley (D-NY) in that state’s primary election.
“I also think that what people are starting to see in the occupation of Palestine is just an increasing crisis of humanitarian conditions and that to me is just where I tend to come from on this issue,” Ocasio-Cortez said.
McGann also criticized Daily Beast writer Matt Lewis, who called Ocasio-Cortez the “telegenic it girl of the left.”
“You have the potential for a very bright future,” Lewis said. “Don’t blow it. Take your time. Avoid overexposure. Bone up on the issues. Do the hard work. There’s no reason to be in a rush.”
“Ocasio-Cortez pulled off an incredible political achievement, she’s been courted by candidates nationwide who want her endorsement, and her résumé stacks up against the men her age in Congress — but that’s not good enough,” McGann opined.
McGann claimed that research shows “again and again” that women face a “higher standard” for being successful on the job and in politics.
“In a town where male politicians are allowed to get policy facts wrong without losing credibility, Ocasio-Cortez’s mistakes are held up as evidence that she’s not up to the task,” McGann wrote.
McGann even called out Washington Post columnist Glenn Kessler for pointing out how some of her statements since arriving in the spotlight have been false, including calling the premium for an Obamacare policy a “tax.”
But McGann dismissed this and other mistakes because “many politicians do the same.”
She cited mistakes PolitiFact claimed to uncover in House Speaker Paul Ryan’s remarks, then implied Ocasio-Cortez could face discrimination because of her Latino heritage.
“This isn’t an argument to hold members of Congress to a lower standard,” McGann wrote. “We should scrutinize their ideas and their plans and question whether they should represent us.”
“But we shouldn’t use that standard for some candidates like Ocasio-Cortez and give a pass to men who we think look the part of a politician, like tall, blue-eyed Paul Ryan.”
McGann also cites studies that show males may be preferred hires because of perceived competence and that women are underrepresented on corporate boards.
McGann uses sources, including a colleague, to bolster her claim that women can even outperform their male counterparts and are more likely to pass legislation that is more favorable to women.
McGann cites Ocasio’s degree in economics from Boston College, her time campaigning for Sanders’ presidential campaign, and even her job as a bartender and server as experiences that may benefit her political ambitions.
McGann concludes that more women, in general, should be elected to Congress and should not face discrimination in the process or in the process of getting any job.
“We have to acknowledge what happens to women in leadership positions across fields,” McGann said. “They face bias that holds them back. And it’s holding the country back too.”
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