THE CONGRESSWOMAN WHO KICKED THE HORNET’S NEST
Maybe you’ve heard of her, maybe you haven’t yet; either way, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) has come under fire as a new member of Congress. She’s a Democrat born in the Bronx and is representing New York’s very diverse Fourteenth District as of this year.
She might also be our savior. Well, not her specifically, but I’ll get to that later.
One of the most notable aspects about AOC’s successful candidacy is her age: She has yet to turn 30.
She is the youngest woman ever in the House of Representatives and is evidence of both the “blue wave” from last mid-term (a change to Democratic majority and therefore leadership) and an increased ability for women to succeed within the Capitol. This year saw a historic influx of women entering Congress.
But her age gives her a distinct advantage over her new colleagues in the House: She has the chance to really understand how “new” media works and to be able to work against some of the basic principles that have gone against the working people of this country for years using progressive policies.
For some already embedded within the establishment of both parties, she is an easy target.
From the outset, she has labeled herself as a Democratic Socialist. She defeated incumbent Joe Crowley in her district which created widespread hubbub. Crowley himself had been in Congress since 1999 and had run without a primary threat since 2004.
This sparked all kinds of responses from both sides of the aisle and the media. Being Latina probably hasn’t helped her stymie the onslaught of vilification.
Responses to her have been varied, including everything from classic versions of ire to a more simmering, underlying disgust. Those throwing stones have yet to realize the glass nature of their own homes.
So, when a video attempting to lampoon her character anonymously “leaked” on Jan. 3 (the day she was sworn into Congress), it wasn’t surprising in the least — and neither was her response.
The video depicts her and a couple of classmates from Boston University dancing in a Breakfast Club homage to Phoenix’s tune “Lisztomania.” A good song choice, a good dance routine;
if those who released the video did so in hopes of embarrassing AOC, they failed. Everyone who watched even five seconds of the video knows it’s perfectly fine, if not awesome.
She immediately swatted away her haters by posting a new video of herself dancing to Edwin Starr’s “War” in her new congressional office.
Attempting to drum up a “sexual” scandal is just one of an ever-increasing glut of attacks meant not to deride her ability to lead, but to keep the country entrenched in an old-school idea of small “c” conservatism.
What they either don’t realize or actively neglect is that when America was more rigid, there was an entirely different set of rules governing society. First off, entire swathes of people (women, minorities, disabled or differently-abled) had limited potential for upward mobility. Secondly, we had something called a marginal tax rate.
In a recent “60 Minutes” interview, host Anderson Cooper asked AOC about her stance on tax policy. She wants to increase the marginal tax rate, which basically means a higher tax on rich people. The only people affected earn over $10 million per year, and it would only affect their yearly earnings past $10 million.
As AOC pointed out, the U.S. had a marginal tax rate in place throughout the middle of the twentieth century, and it helped build America into the economic powerhouse it became.
Many pundits have made this out to be a version of stealing from the wealthy or taxing successful people. But considering they generally make quite a bit with their television gigs, it might not make much sense for us to listen to them about who should get their taxes increased.
Much like his colleagues, Cooper’s relentless reliance on inertia led to him chiding AOC for doing things like occupying the area outside Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s office.
AOC did so in support of the Green New Deal, a stimulus package which would focus efforts on creating a clean-energy infrastructure, as part of a larger effort nullify of the influence of the clutching fingers of the fossil fuel industry.
Cooper is attempting, along with many others, to paint AOC as a “Whirling Dervish” within the Democratic hierarchy who shows little respect to her seniors.
These days, political sections across the internet are covered with stories about her. There is a fake nude photo smear campaign coming from Tucker Carlson’s The Daily Caller, and House Republicans are willing to spar with her any time — but some of the most peculiar negative feedback is coming from the left.
Longtime talking head Chris Cillizza tried to take her to task for her interview on “60 Minutes,” pointing to her supposed laissez-faire attitude towards facts. He quoted her Cooper interview on Twitter: “I think that there’s a lot of people more concerned about being precisely, factually, and semantically correct than about being morally right.”
She was quick to point out that Cillizza had failed to add the full quote, which went on to say: “And whenever I make a mistake, I say, ‘OK, this was clumsy,’ and then I restate what my point was. But it’s— it’s not the same thing as— as the President lying about immigrants. It’s not the same thing, at all.”
Cillizza responded by citing the character count limit on Twitter, which he said was insufficient for him to include the full quote. AOC then used a screenshot to point out that the entire quote would fit.
On her show “The View,” Whoopi Goldberg lashed out at AOC multiple times. Headlines make the spat out to be more vicious than it was in reality, but the quotes themselves are stern. “I would encourage you to sit still for a minute and learn the job,” Goldberg said.
“Before you start pooping on people and what they’ve done, you gotta do something, too.”
Why She Matters
What all this really means is that “We The People” should cherish her. It doesn’t have to be her specifically, but candidates like her. Ones who are willing to shake the tree and throw a curveball. This is exactly the medicine we need to jumpstart, nay, shock us out of this two-year Trump stupor.
Progressives that get publicity on a national level are hard to come by, and they should be held on to tightly by the populace. It is the policies of the majority, whether they know it or not, that get championed when this happens. It chips away at the bureaucracy that both parties have worked hard to prop up.
The Democratic establishment is clearly corrupt and stilted, a withered corpse of the Kennedy’s Camelot it still so desperately clings to.
Former Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Lieberman has tried to chide her by questioning both her popularity and the popularity of the movement she represents. “With all due respect, I certainly hope she’s not the future and I don’t believe that she is.”
Lieberman told this to Fox Business News’ Neil Cavuto, which tells you most of what you need to know about Lieberman.
In response, AOC posted the Fox Business article on Twitter, adding the caption “New party, who dis?”
That tells you all you need to know about Ocasio-Cortez.
She might be ready to fight some of these battles we’ve needed fought for a long time — because after all, experience isn’t the weapon of choice here, it’s fearlessness.