As someone who uses Twitter constantly, I recommend never looking at the replies to a tweet. There's no better way to ruin a heartfelt story or a point you really agree with than to scroll down and read what people are saying about it. Spoiler alert: it's usually awful stuff.
That being said, I always make the mistake of reading the replies.
I follow Democratic Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Twitter, and the replies to her tweets are some of the most brutal and vile there are. AOC is a bogeyman on the right and a symbol of the future of progressive causes to the left. Obviously, she inspires a lot of very strong opinions.
But as I've combed through angry tweet after angry tweet (simultaneously regretting my choice to click in the first place and unable to stop reading) I've noticed one odd point popping up time and time again.
"This is Why You Don't Vote for a Bartender. (AOC) is Ignorant" - @DiamondandSilk have a message for @AOC… https://t.co/d60i4b6fb9— toddstarnes (@toddstarnes)1594678047.0
Attacks against AOC's background as a bartender are common, and not just from random troll accounts but also from relatively well-know conservative commentators like Diamond and Silk. And they're extraordinarily classist.
Those who believe that AOC's past as a bartender should disqualify her from politics are ignoring the fact that she has a degree in economics from Boston University and spent time working at an educational non-profit in the Bronx. But, much more importantly, they're also revealing who they think the world of politics should be inhabited by: the wealthy.
The halls of Congress have always been much easier for a rich person to enter. Running a campaign takes money and connections, which are much easier to muster if you already come from a life of, well, money and connections. A majority of members of our current Congress are millionaires.
There has been no shortage of attacks on the "liberal elite" over the years; rich, Ivy League-educated, coastal professionals who are accused of not understanding "real America."
There's some truth to that categorization. As a Midwesterner who goes to college in New York City, I've met my fair share of people just like this. They have progressive politics and the best of intentions, but some truly do not understand the reality of those who weren't raised by well-off parents in major cities.
With that critique in mind, it is a good thing that a former bartender is in Congress. Who can better represent a largely working-class district than someone who has lived that experience herself? And yet, instead of considering AOC a victory of populism, too many right-wing pundits have abandoned their "average American" talking points to smear her working-class background.
It's telling that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a bartender, is considered deeply unqualified by many pundits, but Donald Trump, who had no political experience before running for president, was a populist hero who would "drain the swamp."
Wealth is seen as a political qualification in and of itself.
Disagreeing with someone's policy ideas is one thing. But you can't claim to advocate for the working class while simultaneously acting like they shouldn't have a place in their own political process.