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.)
Where 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.