So it’s the Friday before the presidential election, and I spent the evening watching a Zoom fundraiser for the Squad Victory Fund, the Squad being the congresswomen Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC), Rep. Ilhan Omar, Rep. Rashida Tlaib, and Rep. Ayanna Pressley, with special guests and entertainers popping in and out as the night went on.
The ladies were pumped, hanging out from their homes in their matching Squad t-shirts, talking about how much they loved one another, goofing off, and welcoming their guests, including people like the rapper Common and a whole lot of writers and musicians I have never heard of.
It was like hanging out with friends at a pep rally. They mixed it up, talking about approaches and policy points and the election strategy (Biden and Harris are not a destination they are a door), what gives them hope, what they will do after November 4, and how they support one another in both their personal struggles and professionally. Then they all had a good laugh when Senator Elizabeth Warren joined the Zoom but didn’t realize she was visible and peacefully carried on reading a book and scratching her nose. When she returned for real, she delivered a short, lovely speech, but it was a monologue and a big change of tone from the previous give and take of the Squad.
Rashida talked a mile a minute and shed a tear at a sad story; she’s the mama bear and not ashamed to act that way. Ayanna is the warrior, saying, “I want an administration that sees me, sees my pain, and develops a policy to address it.” What a concept! Ilhan is the slow-speaking theologian of the group, and AOC is her own lovely self.
I just can’t imagine a bunch of congressional old white guys sitting around having that much fun and camaraderie; I see them more in a bar throwing back whiskeys and talking about golf. Or worse. It seems that when you introduce women into a space, it morphs into something more complex and multi-dimensional. They each bring their own complicated human selves, and that redefines and enriches whatever had been going on before. Each to his own, but the more our congress people show up as actual, complete, human beings, the better I like it.
And then they talked to Bernie! It was a love fest. Bernie praised each of them for the work they have done in their efforts to get out the vote, as legislators, and as models for other young people. He thanked them and said he couldn’t think of a group of people who have had a bigger impact on the political situation in this country. He said they have helped transform America, which is no small thing.
He also thanked them for behaving with dignity when they have been so viciously attacked by the President of the United States, and said their behavior just showed the world what a jerk he is. Then Ilhan noted that Bernie had also gotten his share of abuse, having been ostracized as an outlier for so much of his career. AOC said his breaking of taboos “ normalized” bringing the ruckus on the Democratic Party, and as a result the four of them could come along and challenge the Democratic establishment. Now people know they can put the fire on their own party, and this has completely re-set people’s political imaginations.
And then Rashida said she hopes Bernie feels less alone, because now he has a Squad, a crew that stands with him. That of course totally embarrassed him, and he produced a nice bright blush for everyone as he laughed and smiled. She thanked Bernie for not being intimidated by loud women, and said that being around the Squad is just like being around family. Bernie replied, “It is family!” He said this old Jewish guy has more in common with these young women of color than his own colleagues. “You do make me feel less alone, and I love each of you.”