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If a parasocial relationship with a comedian or influencer is problematic, developing a slow-burning one-way love for Congresswoman Katie Porter, her three kids, and the pesto pasta she was making them the other day cannot be a good idea.
I do not live in or near Porter's Southern California district, which she flipped from red to blue in 2018, marking the district's first ever win by a Democrat. Intellectually, I know that breathless hero worship of politicians makes it harder to hold legislators accountable—even if that legislator is one of the few single parents in Congress.
I try to be disciplined. “The road to hell is paved with labeling powerful women ‘girl boss’!” I lecture myself, resisting the urge to play an old clip of Katie Porter yelling at a pharmaceutical executive for the 14th time.
Porter, like every other congressperson, is only as good as her voting record. Porter’s voting record is very good, if significantly stymied by Republican opposition. She sponsored the Supporting Americans With Lower Taxes Act, and the Student Mental Health Rights Act, and the Mental Health Justice Act, which would require first responder units to include mental health professionals. And, of course, she has a strong record of supporting abortion rights.
Beyond optics, Katie Porter is extraordinarily suited to this political moment. Porter is a former law professor specializing in consumer protection law. She is best known for questioning witnesses in Congress using a white board. (“She carries an 8½-by-11-inch one in her purse along with her favorite purple-colored dry-erase marker,” The New York Times reported last summer.)
Whereas other politicians are condescending and simpering to constituents and deferential to colleagues, she talks to constituents like congresspeople. Like her law school professor Senator Elizabeth Warren, Porter has a talent for translating the intentionally inaccessible language of government into plain language. Her transparent disdain for people who abuse power is galvanizing. She speaks to people who cross her in Congress like—and here I use the official political jargon—little idiot babies.
On Wednesday, Porter gave an interview with Politico, in which she explained that steep inflation is affecting her family as she works to fulfill their basic needs, like shopping at the grocery store or filling her gas tank. She told the interviewer that a colleague responded, “We’re not seeing it in the polls.” Porter was exasperated. “Well, you don’t know what to ask,” she replied.
“There’s a lot of shame around having to live on a budget or having to put food back at a grocery store, and I’m not ashamed,” she went on. “I’m doing the very best I can to make the choices financially for my family.”
The difference between how she reprimands out-of-touch lawmakers versus how she speaks about the realities facing regular Americans warms me like the SoCal sun and fresh pesto pasta. I know that Porter, who makes a six-figure salary, is not the ideal champion of the working class. But all congresspeople have major income—not all of them are single mothers serving one of the country’s most expensive zip codes.
Republicans in Congress are gleefully destroying basic human liberty; babies are literally going hungry due to a formula shortage. I do not want to praise congresspeople for doing their jobs, given that they are, essentially, our employees. But Porter's sharpness, competence, and allergy to nonsense are assets in Congress. Also, they’re fun to watch.
Porter is up for election in 2022 in a race that Republicans would love to snipe back. We’ll be seeing a lot of her in the news in the lead-up to that election, as we should. If you follow politics, you're not experiencing a lot of satisfaction right now, unless you are passionate about stripping lifesaving health care from people who can get pregnant. Porter isn’t falsely optimistic, or mindlessly obsessed with civility, or overly concerned with being polite. She’s righteously angry, like everyone who loves freedom should be. Like a leader.
Jenny Singer is a staff writer for Glamour. You can follow her on Twitter.
Originally Appeared on Glamour