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US election 2020: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez wants people to stop gaslighting Elizabeth Warren

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Jessica Rapana
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Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has no time for Donald Trump's racist taunts

The congresswoman has defended the Democratic presidential candidate against the “misogynist trope” that followed Wednesday night’s debate.

Democratic Party presidential debates are the political equivalent of a wrestling match. 

That is to say, the whole point is to take shots at your opponents in order to be the last one standing. It’s about attacking your competition on a range of key election issues, from healthcare to reproductive rights, in order to convince voters of your electability.

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And candidate Elizabeth Warren is not afraid to get in the ring. She has always described herself as a “fighter”, and has repeatedly demonstrated that she is willing to stand up to corporate interests – and members of her own party – in the name of doing what she thinks is right.

Such was the case on Wednesday night. At the latest Democratic debate, Warren came out swinging against her opponents, and in particular, former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, calling out his past history of sexism, racism and tax evasion.

“I’d like to talk about who we’re running against: a billionaire who calls women ‘fat broads’ and ‘horse-faced lesbians’,” Warren said during the debate. “And no, I’m not talking about Donald Trump, I’m talking about Mayor Bloomberg.” 

Democratic debates: Elizabeth Warren shone on Wednesday night

“Democrats are not going to win if we have a nominee who has a history of hiding his tax returns, or harassing women,” she continued. “And of supporting racist policies like red lining and stop-and-frisk. Look, I’ll support whoever the Democratic nominee is, but understand this: Democrats take a huge risk if we just substitute one arrogant billionaire for another.” 

In other words, the speech was what we call a political-KO.

And yet, rather than being hailed for her compelling takedown – as, presumably, a male candidate would have been – the senator was labelled “mean”. Rather than being praised for being effective, she was called “angry”. 

While this kind of covert sexism (because really, that’s what we are talking about here) is hardly surprising, it is still incredibly disappointing. It is also frustrating to see women continuously being subjected to sexist double-standards.

Elizabeth Warren started off on the back foot

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez thought so too. The freshman congresswoman – who, herself, is no stranger to trolls nor sexism – went to bat for Warren with a series of tweets calling out the “angry” commentary that followed Wednesday night’s debate. 

Ocasio-Cortez – universally known by her initials, AOC – tweeted: “Warren was not mean, nor angry. She was effective.” She continued, “And by the way, we are allowed to be angry about racial profiling. You’re allowed to be angry about sexual harassment. Or at big banks committing fraud against single parents. Anger at injustice is quite appropriate.”

In another tweet, she wrote: “It’s truly time to retire the misogynist trope that angry men are powerful, yet angry women are unhinged. It’s such gaslighting nonsense. You SHOULD be mad at abuse of power. The real question is how one channels that energy into positive change that creates justice.”

Ocasio-Cortez is right. 

Warren shouldn’t be criticised for her epic takedowns of her male counterparts (aka, the whole point of these debates). She should be celebrated because of them. The presidential hopeful’s whip-smart debate tactics should earn her votes – just as they would a man.

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Jessica Rapana

Jessica Rapana is a journalist based in London, and enjoys writing across all areas of women’s lifestyle content. She is especially fond of news, health, entertainment and travel content, and drinks coffee like a Gilmore Girl.

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