It is very rare for a new member of congress to make waves across the American political landscape, but sometimes it does happen— especially when one woman from the Bronx, who most people had never heard of before, manages to unseat, at the time, one of the top-ranking House Democrats, Joe Crowley. I am, of course, referring to U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who won one of the most shocking upset victories from the 2018 midterm elections. Rep. Ocasio Cortez is inspiring, not just because she comes from humble origins, but because she has continued to fight for the kinds of change that this country needs the most: a single-payer, Medicare-for-all system that covers all Americans, and a “Green New Deal,” which would combat climate change by going completely carbon-free, focusing on renewable energy, and continuing to fight for women’s rights.
It is natural that this strong and bold agenda would make any Bonafede, feminist, working-class hero and a target of the powers-that-be. Ever since her inauguration into office, and even before then, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez of New York’s fourteenth district has become one of the favorite targets of the patriarchal right-wing noise machine, smearing her as either a hopelessly naive girl, or some dangerous firebrand that would destroy America, and that’s putting it politely. Even though the right-wing noise machine has been more than harsh in its campaign against Rep. Ocasio-Cortez, it is not the most nefarious source of attacks against her. That dubious honor goes to the high-ranking members of her own party, especially House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who has been responsible for many of the attacks against the young congresswoman. This was best demonstrated during a “60 Minutes” interview with the house speaker, where she could barely hide her contempt for progressives such as Rep. Ocasio-Cortez, dismissing her and other strong progressive members of the party as “like, five people” and claimed that young members of the party, “know that we have to hold the center.”
These attacks against the progressive wing of the party by other women such as Nancy Pelosi highlight a key flaw among leading women figures of the democrats: their neoliberal views are completely and utterly incompatible with feminism, and by contrast, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez has become a beacon for the struggle of women’s equality in modern America.
This does beg the question, though: why are other women like Pelosi, Harris and Warren incompatible with the struggle for women’s equality? It is because all of them, have hitched their wagons to protecting the status quo (aka neoliberalism), the very system that is chiefly responsible for keeping women oppressed, for enabling the various elements of sexism in American society, and the source of patriarchy in this country.
In this context, the question then becomes: Why would they be willing to protect this system of inequality? The answer is that they aren’t affected by the problems faced by other women, chiefly because they have enough private capital and political power and so don’t feel the need to fight tooth and nail for their fellow sisters. From their perspective, going against the status quo, is next to unthinkable, because it would mean they would risk their own comfortable place within the hierarchy. Even worse, they even believe that working within the confines of capitalism, by struggling to find a place within the hierarchy, is more preferable than liberation.
Meanwhile, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez, by her very rhetoric, has poked holes in their philosophy by showing that no matter what kind of liberal ideals they may have, unless women are willing to fundamentally challenge the power structures of the Neoliberal status quo which enables patriarchy in America to protect profits, women will never be able to be equal to men. It is important to continue the struggle for women’s equality, and American women have taken up the call, such as the Women’s March and the MeToo movement. Rep. Ocasio Cortez understands the feminist cause is rising again, to finally deliver the socio-economic justice that all women deserve, but this cannot happen unless other women, especially elected officials, are willing to go all the way. I sincerely hope that Speaker Pelosi realizes that the status quo is no friend to women.
This is Kelly Baker, Columnist for The Quad—signing off!
Kelly Baker is a fourth-year student majoring in English with minors in journalism and film criticism. KB819687@wcupa.edu.