The U.S. Capitol Building at night
The current crop of freshmen Representatives in the U.S. Congress feature some colorful personalities as well as diverse perspectives. Admittedly, the Democratic newbies have gotten the most attention because of radical statements, policy proposals, and controversies.
However, there is one Republican rookie who has been turning heads, Texas Rep. Dan Crenshaw. It might be illuminating to assess this GOP rising star in comparison with the Left’s most meteoric House member, N.Y. Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
What do we know about AOC and Crenshaw before they came to Congress? What might serve as a hypothetical resume for each of them?
Let’s start with Ms. Ocasio-Cortez. She grew up in the Bronx, New York City as the daughter of a father of Puerto Rican descent who was born in America, and a mother who was born in Puerto Rico.
Her involvement with politics began while she was attending college at Boston University. She became an intern in the immigration office of Senator Ted Kennedy during his final year in the Senate.
What AOC says about that time is illustrative.
I was the only Spanish speaker, and as a result, as basically a kid—a 19-, 20-year-old kid—whenever a frantic call would come into the office because someone is looking for their husband because they have been snatched off the street by ICE, I was the one that had to pick up that phone, …I was the one that had to help that person navigate that system.
AOC graduated from Boston University in 2011 with a degree in international relations and economics. She went back to her home in the Bronx to help support her mother, as her father had passed in 2008.
Her next foray into politics came as an organizer for Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign. She was inspired to run for office during her work traveling the country for Sanders.
AOC’s campaign and election resembled something straight out of a Hollywood script, especially her victory in the Democratic primary. While working as a bartender, she managed to defeat a 10-time incumbent Democrat who had a huge advantage in funding.
What about Representative Crenshaw? His ‘resume’ is slightly different. First off, he is five years older than AOC, having been born in 1984.
Crenshaw grew up in Katy, Texas. His mother died when he was a child, and afterward, he lived with his father who worked in the oil industry.
Since his father traveled and lived for long periods of time overseas, Crenshaw spent time living in Ecuador and Columbia as a youth. He became proficient in Spanish during those years, which is perhaps the only characteristic he and AOC share.
Crenshaw graduated from Tufts University in 2006. During his time at Tufts, he joined the Reserve Officers Training Corps [ROTC] and became a commissioned officer in the Navy after graduation.
He became a Navy SEAL and served 10 years which included three tours of duty overseas. In 2012 while serving in Afghanistan, he was injured by an Improvised Explosive Device [IED] and lost his right eye as a result.
After military service, he went on to obtain a Masters degree in Public Administration from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government in 2018. During that time he also worked as a legislative assistant for Texas Congressman Pete Sessions.
Crenshaw began his campaign in November of 2017 and had to survive a contentious runoff election in the Republican primary. However, the most interesting incident of the campaign happened just prior to the general election in November of 2018.
Comedian Pete Davidson made a mocking remark about Crenshaw as a joke on the November 3, 2018 episode of Saturday Night Live. The public disapproval of that joke has been credited by some as helping Crenshaw secure victory in the election the following Tuesday.
However, what happened the following Saturday on SNL was remarkable.
Davidson’s sincere apology for his remarks the week before and Crenshaw’s good-natured acceptance of the apology was a refreshing look at the character of both. Moreover, it was an impressive first appearance on the national scene for the newly-elected Representative.
The political positions of AOC and Crenshaw could hardly be farther apart. Ocasio-Cortez is extreme Left-wing Socialist, while Crenshaw is a solidly Conservative Republican.
The greatest example of AOC’s political aspirations is the now infamous Green New Deal. Her surprising influence in less than 3 months has gathered support for the GND from every declared Democrat candidate for President in 2020.
AOC is also a proponent of abolishing Immigrations and Customs Enforcement and basically an open borders status for America.
As might be expected, Crenshaw opposes the ‘Green Dream.’ He has ably stated the reasonable objections to it in many forums.
However, there are some far less publicized positions that Dan Crenshaw has put forth which deserve attention for a fair comparison between the Texas Republican and AOC.
Crenshaw was joined by two other Representatives back in January of this year in proposing a bill to withhold the salaries of Congress, the Vice President, and the President in the event of a government shutdown. Crenshaw stated at the time,
Federal employees should never have to carry the burden caused by a dysfunctional government, …We should have to feel the very real effects of a shutdown, just as our fellow federal employees are forced to do.
Concerning that same issue, Crenshaw also revealed something the Mainstream media, umm… had skipped over.
Texas Rep. Dan Crenshaw reported on Twitter that Republicans had a plan to pay federal workers during the shutdown. But that proposal did not pass because all but 6 Democrats voted against it.
This was while the shutdown was happening. Employees could have received pay during the shutdown itself if this had passed. It will be interesting to see at election time if federal workers remember which party had their backs during the shutdown, and which did not.
Rep. Crenshaw is also a vocal supporter of border security, including a physical barrier aka a ‘border wall,’ and an advocate of President Trump’s National Emergency Declaration.
One factor remains to conclude this assessment. That is the factor of public presence.
Presence refers to the public persona of each person. As national public officials, a large portion of their lives is now subject to media scrutiny. In today’s society, this means the scrutiny of social media, as well as TV and radio coverage.
For example, AOC was recently questioned about real concerns with probable ethics violations and ‘laundering’ or ‘funneling’ money to her boyfriend, through her campaign manager. The violation involved her campaign manager, Saikat Chakrabarti, using a Political Action Committee’s funds to pay AOC’s boyfriend thousands of dollars.
The campaign manager and AOC herself said the boyfriend was not on staff [even though her office had listed him as staff] and the payments were not unethical. However, it was found that the boyfriend also was given a House e-mail account, which the rules state is wrong unless he is actually part of the staff.
AOC’s excuse was that her boyfriend needed a house.gov email account to have access to her Congressional calendar. Hmm …guess she forgot how to text him about her schedule.
Moreover, she seems to want to be excused from media attention towards her personal life.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez fired off a tweet suggesting that the media unfairly target her family and love life in their reporting – and I can’t stop laughing. Here’s the tweet:
You know, when I got to DC I was told that it’s considered “off limits” to report on a member’s family, love life, etc. Unsure why that consideration is suspended for me. (Also for those who ask how I learned to handle pressure, try being the only daughter in a Latino household) https://t.co/M2lgHITz1B
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) March 5, 2019
AOC has apparently not been paying attention to media coverage of late. Especially the mainstream media’s metaphoric ‘body-cavity search’ and automatic condemnation of any family member of President Trump’s household, including his young son, Barron.
How does Rep. Crenshaw present himself in light of media attention? We have already seen the very classy way he responded to Saturday Night Live’s mockery.
Here is another reaction by Crenshaw decrying the Leftmedia, but not for anything targeting him. Instead, he speaks out about the anti-Christian bias of the MSM.
The Texas Congressman recently appeared on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” and calmly dismantled the hyperbole of the media attacks on President Trump. In response to the leftist claim that Trump is attacking freedom of the press, Crenshaw replied,
How has he done that? The Obama administration had many press members under investigation, Trump has not, so what is the difference here?
Crenshaw is 100% correct about Obama. He actually tried squashing freedom of the press with everything from seizing records to covert surveillance of reporters he didn’t like.
All Trump has done is briefly expel an obnoxious reporter who hogged the microphone from the privileged seat at the White House press briefings. Oh yeah, and he has called the Leftmedia names.
Much remains to be seen concerning both AOC and Crenshaw and their performance as ‘newbies’ in the House. Moreover, since they are both considered rising stars in their respective political circles, they will also be targeted, fairly or not, as defining the policies of their Party.
This analysis is not definitive by any stretch of the imagination. Yet, it can be instructive as to which person is best suited to the role of U.S. Representative that both are occupying now.
In that light, my hope is that we will see more of the likes of Rep. Crenshaw and far less of the likes of AOC in Congress. However, I am not making that prediction, and I’m not holding my breath waiting for it to happen.
I also hope and pray that all who would govern would desire the same as Solomon did from God when he became the King of Israel.
Give your servant, therefore, an understanding mind to govern your people, that I may discern between good and evil, for who is able to govern this your great people? 1 Kings 3:9 [ESV]
Sources: The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, Crossway Bibles, 2001
Featured and Top Image courtesy of Melih’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image 1 courtesy of Dimitri Rodriguez’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image 2 courtesy of RREA Media, Wikimedia Commons – Creative Commons License
Inset Image 3 courtesy of Charles Edward Miller’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image 4 courtesy of Omar Barcena’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image 5 courtesy of Pamela Carls’ Flickr page – Creative Commons License
All other sources linked or cited in the text
Originally published in TIL Journal