As a disclaimer: Twitter should absolutely not be the sole source of your political news. The atmosphere of the app is horrible at creating an atmosphere for discourse. That being said, it is a great place to find patterns to explore deeper. This month has found my feed filled with the name Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the female representative-elect from New York.
She is the youngest woman to ever be elected to the house, and defeated the incumbent Democrat, Joe Crowley, with a campaign fund of $128,000, a number dwarfed by Crowley’s $2.78 million. Ocasio-Cortez ran on the Democratic ticket, but she is specifically a member of the Democratic Socialists of America. There were many reasons for her breakout success, among them her refusal to take PAC donations like her Democratic counterparts. She was also more interested in building her own platform than attacking existing administrations, a fact she talked about on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” talk show.
“We have to stick to the message: ‘What are we proposing to the American people?’” she said. “Not, ‘What are we fighting against?’ We understand that we’re under an antagonistic administration, but what is the vision that is going to earn and deserve the support of working-class Americans?”
And she did all of this while running as a young woman of color, three factors that are extremely uncommon in the United States government — the statistics are still hysterically skewed against her.
With all of this in mind, it was upsetting to me that the only thing that filled replies to her tweets were savage criticisms of her intelligence. Her most popular mistake is when she incorrectly stated the three branches of government on one of her frequent livestreams. Trump supporters were not the only hecklers, but the number of red hats in the replies was large.
It is just fascinating to me that she receives so much criticism for her status in government. She made headlines for her young age, certainly, but this level of scrutiny is rarely leveled against House members. And that is not meant to be a stab at her capabilities. My question is why these droves of tweets can be so condescending to an otherwise intelligent woman, while these same accounts are willing to overlook a president who believes raking the forest will prevent California forest fires.
The level of hypocrisy is ludicrous.
To Ocasio-Cortez’s credit, she addresses these critics in a levelheaded way and retains her composure throughout. But the volume of challenges to her intelligence are unwarranted for the number of minor mistakes she has made.
There are any number of reasons for this unfair treatment, which almost certainly are some combination of her race, gender and age, which is very unsettling. Even if her policies are not to your liking, there is no reason to level such a double standard onto a member of Congress that does not deserve it.
So today’s lesson is twofold. Treat everyone with the respect they deserve, no matter who they are and what they look like. Judge based on character, not looks.
And don’t get all your political news from Twitter.