New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) has been making waves from the first day she stepped into the halls of Congress. She’s an incredibly smart, accomplished Latino woman who is just getting started in Congress, committed to justice and improving the day-to-day lives of her constituents in all respects: access to health care, affordable housing, education, fighting climate change, and reallocating police funding to address the aforementioned challenges that plague many urban communities. In other words, all the things Republicans cannot stand.
Enter Ted Yoho, the soon-to-be retired congressman who currently represents Florida’s 3rd district, which is located in central Florida, just south of Jacksonville. He is someone who claims to champion law and order, but when it came to Congress investigating Donald Trump for bribing the president of Ukraine with U.S. financial assistance in exchange for “dirt” (real or manufactured) against the Biden family, Yoho, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, didn’t attend one single deposition. Like a lot of Republicans, he cries “law and order” when it comes to incarcerating Black and brown citizens for minor crimes, but whistles past the corruption and misdeeds of his (nearly all white) associates.
Yoho and the conservative media apparatus have been apoplectic over calls from AOC and others to “defund the police.” After two centuries of mass incarceration and over-policing of largely Black and brown communities, it is clear the system as we know it is not working. The deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Elijah McClain, and far too many others have strengthened calls to reallocate city and federal budgets to address the root cause of crime in these communities, all of which go back to the lack of resources, funding, health care, affordable housing, strong education, and employment opportunities. So when AOC said in a recent hearing that the COVID-19 crisis, which has added 50 million Americans to the unemployment rolls, was a factor in a spike in crime in New York City, it so upset Ted Yoho that he angrily accosted her on the steps of Congress, which was witnessed by a reporter from The Hill.
In a brief but heated exchange, which was overheard by a reporter, Yoho told Ocasio-Cortez she was "disgusting" for recently suggesting that poverty and unemployment are driving a spike in crime in New York City during the coronavirus pandemic.
"You are out of your freaking mind," Yoho told her.
Ocasio-Cortez shot back, telling Yoho he was being "rude."
As they parted ways, Yoho reportedly blurted out “fucking bitch.” Because, of course. Like a lot of older white men, Ted Yoho seems to have some serious anger management issues. It’s their way or the highway, which is rather amusing from the party who constantly decry “cancel culture” and complain their thoughts and beliefs are stifled. Brett Arnold from Yahoo News spoke with AOC after The Hill report and she offered more detail, including the fact that Yoho was wagging his finger in her face. She said: “When I pass other members on the steps, regardless of party, I usually nod or say hello if I’m able. Out of nowhere, Yoho comes up to me and puts his finger in my face and flies off in a rage. He started going off about shootings and bread and nonsense, calling me crazy, shameful, out of my mind, etc.”
Yoho was walking with Texas Rep. Roger Williams when the outburst occurred. Williams later told The Hill he had no comment and was just so distracted thinking about the issues facing his constituents that he didn’t even hear the exchange. Okay, Roger. Sure. When Yahoo News reached out to AOC for her account, she contested Williams’ account, saying he fully participated as well. “Williams then started joining in, yelling things at me and said something about throwing urine — I don’t know what that was about. I said he was being rude and that this was unbelievable and started to walk away. He said, ‘I’M RUDE? You’re calling ME rude?!’ And I just kept walking to my vote.”
Is there an elected Republican alive with any kind of moral backbone? Are there any who don’t lie? No doubt Yoho and Williams felt emboldened to confront AOC precisely because they were together. Bullies rarely act out without an audience. AOC called him out on Twitter for lying about his role in the confrontation.
Day in and day out since she came into office in 2018, conservative media has focused on her, spewing a kind of vitriol that is reminiscent of the 30 years of concentrated attacks on Hillary Clinton. There isn’t a day that goes by that Fox News isn’t laser-focused on driving their audience to hate the freshman congresswoman from the Bronx. All one has to do is peruse the comment section of any story about her to get a taste of the absolutely insane vitriol that is thrown her way. It’s scary.
Rep. Ruben Gallego took to Twitter to call out the obvious misogyny at play here, noting that he has made similar comments about the correlation between unemployment and crime and these cowards haven’t said a peep to him.
There are currently 102 women serving in the United States Congress and of those, only 13 are Republican; nearly all of them are white. The Republican party has a problem with women and they are the only ones who can solve it. They need to evolve. For the sake of their party and the future of this country as a whole.