Help a sister out? Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez – rising star, progressive possessor of the most infectious laugh in the Class of 2018, and the youngest woman ever elected to Congress – can’t afford to live in D.C. till her paychecks start to roll. Of course, if she was giving speeches to Goldman Sachs at $225,000 an hour at the same time Goldman was laying off 1,700 workers (cough) Hillary (cough) … But I digress.
This is part of the income inequality we talk about, that AOC’s former boss and endorser Bernie Sanders ran for president on, and more importantly what far too many millennials – yup, in NJ too – know too well. AOC, who was working as a bartender in the Bronx a year ago, can’t afford an apartment where her new job is. Now, you know her problem’s going to get fixed – because who doesn’t want to help out AOC? But just talking about this is important stuff (which is why she went public).
We don’t make it easy for ordinary people to get elected to Congress and make the laws for the rest of us ordinary people to live by. So a lot of our laws reflect the disconnect between us and who runs Washington (cough) Trump (cough). D.C. is stuffed with those who got there after a lucrative career in business or law, or from dynasty families – (cough) Frelinghuysen (cough). They’re far less likely to be young, and struggling under the weight of student debt, young families or beginning careers. And not for nothing, but most of those people are white and male, and that’s another thing that needs to change. New Jersey’s had our share of rich lawmakers, though “ours” don’t always govern like “theirs” – Frank Lautenberg ($56.9 million). Rodney Frelinghuysen ($28 million). Tom MacArthur ($30 million). And Bob Hugin would have out-cheesed them all: $84.4 million. [Here’s NJ’s congressional delegation, ranked by reported wealth].
Rich politicians can have lives that have nothing to do with ours, and we notice when they flub on the price of a gallon of gas or milk (or W T F goes on at WaWa). And though there are challenges for freshman House member, I’m glad this one is talking real talk.
We need campaign finance reform. Yeah – and not only.