Aaron Freedman

Congress is crawling with rich kids. I should know, I was one of them
Unpaid internships are breeding a crisis on the Hill

OPINION — Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has made headlines for one unprecedented move after another, from primarying a member of the Democratic leadership to introducing a Green New Deal. But perhaps her most shocking decision yet is also one that is painfully obvious: paying her staff and interns a living wage.

See, working for Congress should be an opportunity for Americans of every background to serve their country and elected leaders. Instead, the low — and in the case of interns, often nonexistent — pay for young people on the Hill makes working in Washington, D.C., prohibitively expensive for all but a wealthy and connected few. Or, as Ocasio-Cortez aide Dan Riffle put it when describing the Hill staffers he’s encountered, “These are careerists. These are people who grew up on [New York City’s affluent] Upper West Side and went to Ivy League schools.”