Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from New York's 14th district Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez attends Women's March 2019 on January 19, 2019 in New York City.
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from New York's 14th district Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez attends Women's March 2019 on January 19, 2019 in New York City.
By Tara Law
January 21, 2019

Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is pushing back against screenwriter Aaron Sorkin’s comments that the new members of Congress need to “stop acting like young people.”

In an interview with CNN on Sunday, Sorkin – who is renowned for penning political dramas like the West Wing and Charlie Wilson’s War – argued that while he likes the young freshman Congressmembers, “They need to stop acting like young people, ok? It’s time to do that.”

He continued, “I think that there’s a great opportunity here, now more than ever, for Democrats to be the non-stupid party, to point out the difference. That it’s not just about transgender bathrooms. That’s a Republican talking point they’re trying to distract you with.”

Sorkin suggested that instead Democrats must show that they care about broader issues, such as the “economic anxiety of the middle class.”

Ocasio-Cortez, the youngest Congresswoman in history, responded through the medium that has become the hallmark of her style — Twitter.

“News Flash: Medicare for All and equal rights aren’t trends,” Ocasio-Cortez wrote. “When people complain about low turnout in some demos, it’s not because communities are apathetic, it’s because they don’t see you fighting for them. If we don’t show up for people, why should you feel entitled to their vote?”

https://twitter.com/AOC/status/1087077990989737986

Later that day, Ocasio-Cortez also responded to a tweet from Charlotte Clymer, an activist for LGBTQIA advocacy group Human Rights Campaign, who wrote that Sorkin was invested in finding elected officials with “gravitas” even if he disagreed with their values.

In an extended thread, Ocasio-Cortez argued that Sorkin is falling into a trap common among conservatives – belittling individuals, and especially women, for their identity or style rather than addressing their ideas.

“Let’s dig into ‘gravitas,’ because it’s an ambiguous word, selectively applied,” Ocasio-Cortez wrote. “Ever wonder how expression that’s feminine, working-class, queer, or POC isn’t deemed as having ‘gravitas’, but talking like an Aaron Sorkin character does? Men have ‘gravitas,’ women get ‘likeable.’”

“This has deeper consequences, bc as we’ve seen w/ narratives advanced by the right, they have trouble recognizing intelligence in people they disagree with,” she wrote. “This is what bias looks like: for some ppl, small mistakes mean they’re not “serious,” yet others are forgiven for worse.”

She also addressed Sorkin’s comment that Democrats need to stop talking about the right of transgender people to use the bathroom of their choice.

“We wouldn’t need to talk about bathrooms at all if we acted like adults, washed our hands and minded our own business instead of trying to clock others. Going by track record, I’d feel safer in a bathroom with a trans woman than a powerful male executive any day of the week.”

Write to Tara Law at tara.law@time.com.

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