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The recent dust up between Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ivanka Trump et al prompted Think in the Morning to consider who is best suited to govern in a democracy.  Some reporting of the Ocasio-Cortez –  Ivanka Trump exchanges can be found in The Guardian and in HuffPost (see below).


Sea Gull Cellar Bar Napkin Art, Jack Haye artist


The Guardian: 

“It may be shocking to some, but being someone’s daughter actually isn’t a career qualification,” the first-term Democrat tweeted. “It hurts our diplomatic standing when the President phones it in & the world moves on. The US needs our President working the G20. Bringing a qualified diplomat couldn’t hurt either.”

In response, Morgan mocked Ocasio-Cortez for being a bartender before she was elected into Congress. “Could be worse… Ivanka could have been a bar-tender 18 months ago,” the Good Morning Britain co-host tweeted.

Ocasio-Cortez fired back at Morgan 20-minutes-later, writing: “Actually, that would make government better — not worse. Imagine if more people in power spent years of their lives actually working for a living. We’d probably have healthcare and living wages by now.”


Sea Gull Cellar Bar Napkin Art, Roy Hoggard artist



 Over the weekend, the freshman lawmaker slammed Ivanka Trump, daughter and adviser to President Donald Trump, for taking part in G-20 talks despite having no qualifications.

“It may be shocking to some, but being someone’s daughter actually isn’t a career qualification,” Ocasio-Cortez said in response to a viral video of an awkward momentbetween the first daughter and several world leaders.

Conservative pundit Paris Dennard asked Ocasio-Cortez what her own qualifications are.

Remind us how being a bartender qualified youto be a member of Congress creating laws, voting on bills that impact Americans & the world,” he tweeted. 

She repliedwith the only qualification that matters in Congress: The election results that showed her easily winning her districtlast year. 

Then, she launched into a passionate defense of not only her own background, but of all people who’ve worked similar jobs:

As always, I‘m proud of my work in restaurants.

I also worked for Sen. Ted Kennedy, piloted literacy projects in the South Bronx, studied Development Economics in W Africa, served as an Educational Director & won international science competitions before I ran for office, too.

— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) June 30, 2019

Working people that GOP dismiss as “just a waitress/cook/etc” contain multitudes, & are just as capable & intelligent as anyone.

Classism – judging someone’s character by their income – is disappointing to see from them.

What is so appalling to GOP about having an honest job?

  • Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) June 30, 2019

Some of the most nuanced, intelligent, & grounded people I‘ve ever met weren’t at BU, MIT or Harvard events when I was a student.

They were the plumbers & waitresses I hung out with at happy hour, who had ferocious intellectual curiosity *and* a lived context of the real world.

  • Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) June 30, 2019


In other words, Republicans who criticize my being a waitress as evidence of lacking skill can take their classism to the trash.  You are insulting the capacities and potential of virtually every working person in America (&the 🌎) for having experience that’s earned, not bought.

  • Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) June 30, 2019 

(And that’s if they even take out their own trash, which I doubt)

  • Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) June 30, 2019


Sea Gull Cellar Bar Napkin Art, James Maxwell artist


The Twitter exchanges expose an important issue—who is qualified to vote and to govern in a democracy? It’s well known than many potential voters lack knowledge of the issues, are blinded by their personal biases, have little to no experience in governing, and are easily manipulated by big tech, internet bots, social media, advertisements and so on.  So, is democracy dead?

This question was explored a couple of years ago in an interesting article in Aeon by Nicholas Tampio: Treat People As Citizens:  How a Generation of Political Thinkers has Underestimated the Abilities of Ordinary People and Undermined Democracy.  Tampio explores what he calls “big nudging” (i.e. using technology and choice architectures to subtly influence the choices people make) and “epistocracy” (i.e. a system that allots greater value to the votes of those who can demonstrate their knowledge of the political system). The bottom line is to enable people to learn by doing:


The way to learn how to walk is to walk; the way to become a citizen is to exert some kind of power in the government or civil society. There is no technological quick fix to make our society more democratic. To learn what Tocqueville called ‘the art of being free’, people must have a hand in the governance of common affairs.


Sea Gull Cellar Bar Napkin Art, Roy Hoggard artist


One interesting way to do this is to phase “sortition,” that is the selection of public officials by random selection.  Would such a system work?  Here is one man’s explanation of how and why it would.



As someone who owned and operated a restaurant and who worked with bartenders, waiters, cooks, janitors and other staff, I can attest to the faith Ocasio-Cortez puts in the ordinary person.  A search for the wisdom of the common man resulted in nearly 200 million hits on Google. Apparently this is something of interest in today’s world.  And why not? The “experts” gave us the Iraq war (not to mention constant war almost everywhere without stop and the military industrial complex), the highest level of inequality in a hundred years, the destruction of decent jobs and benefits without compensation or retraining, the Great Recession of 2008, global warming,  regressive taxes and on and on.  Could any ordinary person do worse?

The experts have had their chance and they have made their mistakes.  Obviously ordinary people would make their mistakes too.   But there is more at stake than that.  There is a bias underlying the current system that needs to be corrected.  Consider this report by Nicholas Carnes:  Working-Class People are Underrepresented in Politics.  The Problem isn’t Voters.  Our Government is Run by Rich People — and It Benefits Them the Most.  There is substantial data in the article to back up the conclusion:  Those who have the power rig the system in their favor.


Sea Gull Cellar Bar Napkin Art, Roy Hoggard artist


Capitalism isn’t bad.  Democracy isn’t bad.  Both can be implemented in a way that benefits the majority and not the minority. Think about that as the next crop of candidates makes their case in the months ahead.