The Revolution needs Results, not Rhetoric

Annie Austin , Op-Ed Editor

It may come as a shock to many, but I am not a fan of the most well known freshman member of Congress, Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. In many ways, I see her as a symptom of our broken politics. Her brand of politics is exactly what our first opinion piece warns against. In September, we wrote, “It is not disagreement that is harmful, it is the unwillingness to find consensus that hurts our country.” I believe in bold ideas- we need a climate change moonshot before its impacts are irreversible in twelve years. I believe in principle- we need people to do the right thing, especially when it’s hard. But more than anything, I believe in productivity. I will never cast a ballot for a talking head: Congress needs more work horses, not show horses. Constituents don’t elect representatives so they spend their time fighting on Twitter and visiting the talk show circuit. Constituents elect representatives so they can work for the people: passing bills that improve their lives and investing in constituent services that help them navigate bureaucracy. You can have bold ideas while still forming a bipartisan coalition around feasible solution. The creation of Medicare  was once seen as a step towards socialized medicine. Ted Cruz supported a bill to strip military commanders of their duty to prosecute sexual assault, and instead make the process independent. Republicans stopped the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Anything is possible when you work with other people and recognize that good and done is better than unfeasible perfect. Tweets don’t make people’s lives better, but legislation does. Transparency is important, and I agree in the value of trying to bring in new people to the political process. However, Ocasio-Cortez’s Brand New Congress organization is under investigation funding shifts from a political action committee to a limited liability company. Campaign finance experts have said that, while not illegal, the move shows poor judgement. In the words of Politico, “Yes, all of the people who say they are against the system participate in it.” In many ways, I think the divide of Democrat’s freshman class of can be summed up by the two 29 year olds elected to it. Neither of them were likely members of Congress. Ocasio-Cortez was a bartender who took on the man expected to one day be the youngest Speaker of the House. Abby Finkenauer of Iowa was the daughter of rural union members who beat a millionaire incumbent while still paying off her student loans. However, there are clear differences.Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was elected in a primary challenge and can be seen in viral videos and news panels. Abby Finkenauer was elected in a tough red-to-blue race and can be seen meeting with her constituents in district and passing bills, as she was the first freshman member to do so. I much prefer a Finkenauer-type: constituent-focused and results-driven, to an Ocasio-Cortez type: media-focused and profile-driven. It would do her good to remember that compromise is not surrender, and words mean nothing in Congress unless they are in bills passed and signed by the President. Anyone can give a good speech or get followers on social media: the test of a politician is how they get things done.