Ocasio-Cortez and Pelosi Must Join Forces
The diversity of the freshman class, the newest members of the House of Representatives, is at unprecedented levels, as they are the most ethnically and religiously diverse class we have ever seen. The average age of all new Congress representatives is almost ten years younger than the previous Congress. The number of non-white members and women are at record levels.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is an example of diversity in the House. She is the youngest member of Congress ever. Lily Bowman (‘21) calls her “an icon.” An internet sensation and a media darling, Ocasio-Cortez has stormed Twitter and Instagram with her provocative comments; she has been featured on every media outlet after her fiery speeches. Kate Harty (‘20) said that “AOC has made huge waves and everyone knows who she is. It’s hard to know what to do with her because we have never had [anyone] like her before in American politics.”
However, Upper School History Teacher George Snook said that while she has proved to be a “master at drawing media attention to [herself] and [her] causes, [and] calls for bold and exciting initiatives, the government works through relationships and compromise.” That is where Speaker Nancy Pelosi comes in.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi has been in Congress for the past 32 years and is the most powerful woman in American politics, with achievements such as pushing through the Affordable Care Act with bipartisan support. Having been playing the political game for a long time now, she, unlike the freshman class, understands that to be successful in politics, you need to “form alliances beyond their circle, earn positions on key committees, and serve the constituents who elected them in the first place,” said Mr. Snook.
In an interview in November of 2018, representative Gerry Connolly (D-VA) stated, “no one has her legislative chops or wealth of experience. She knows how to exhort, inspire, cajole, intimidate and persuade. She never lost a vote on the floor as Speaker. She worked tirelessly to bring us out of the wilderness. She has earned it.”
With Ocasio-Cortez’s social media strengths and Pelosi’s understanding of true governmental leadership, the two women must collaborate in order to accomplish true power that would enable them to get more done, in both legislation and with the public. The combination of Ocasio-Cortez’s representation of the future and the youth and Pelosi’s ability to connect and convince her fellow congresspeople, they cover all grounds.
Even though working together would be the best strategy, Ocasio-Cortez and Pelosi have a history of criticizing each other. Ocasio-Cortez ran on a platform in which she repeatedly stated that she would not vote for Pelosi for Speaker (although she did in the end), and Pelosi has repeatedly discredited Ocasio-Cortez’s proposed climate bill, the Green New Deal, calling it the “Green Dream.”
Dr. Sarah Strauss, an Upper School History Teacher, brings a historical perspective to the matter. Dr. Strauss wonders if the “Democratic newcomers will be willing to undermine institutional norms in a way that resembles some of what Tea Party politicians did.” She stated that the Tea Party, a far-right movement that came to the forefront in 2009 that “both energized and tore apart” the Republican Party. This calls into question whether or not the Democratic Party will grow stronger or become more divided because of these ultra progressive newcomers.
Despite their differences, whether they be more geared towards the establishment or more progressive, Democratic congresswomen banded together at February 5th’s State of the Union address, wearing white to pay tribute to the suffragette movement and show their alliance.
In order to build upon their recent accomplishment of gaining control of the House, Democrats have to figure out what they want to represent. As Dr. Strauss acknowledged, though, “figuring out how to work together, across ideological differences, will be a very tough task indeed.”
As the new Congress must make efforts to collaborate and move past their differences, so must Packer students. As an anonymous student said, “Packer students do not listen to each other’s opinions if they differ from their own. This is dangerous.” As a community, we need to strive to acknowledge all of our peer’s views to create an intellectually curious and understanding atmosphere. Ocasio-Cortez and Pelosi’s potential partnership should inspire Packer students to start listening to their peers because in any institution, including the government, learning how to listen and take other’s perspectives into account will lead to a more positive productive environment.