If there is any joy to be found on the shattered plains of 2019 it is in seeing how a young, outspoken, well-informed and courageous female politician of colour is making the status quo poop its Banana Republic cargo pants in terror.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s political career has barely begun and yet she has wasted no time in using her platform and formidable social media skills to radically shift the conversation to where it needs to be. Whether it is in healthcare, the banking sector, or climate change, she is keenly aware of the pressing need for solutions to the existential crises our civilisation faces, and she will not be cowed into silence.
Perhaps even more revealing than Ocasio-Cortez’s injections of common sense radicalism into the system is scale of the system’s reactions to it. From both sides of the gilded aisle you hear similar songs of protest. The bloated cartoon villains of the GOP trumpet their Boschian dirge about a Marxist end of days while their red-faced outriders in the media holler a depraved psycho-sexual ‘debate me, bro’ refrain in the face of this implacable social democrat. On the other side you have the Democrats. The party of compromise and asymmetrical harmonising that pays lip service to the people but prostrates itself before capital. Their song is a more complex, layered one.
OK I’m dropping that metaphor now.
Establishment Democrats are terrified of Ocasio-Cortez. More so, I think, than the GOP. The GOP have comparatively little to lose with AOC’s domination of the political narrative. The fact that the GOP are corrupt and complicit in the transformation of the U.S. into an oligarchy is pretty much open knowledge. The party’s financiers get what they pay for, and they are quite open about it. The few overtures at laudable social goals—individual responsibility, freedom, and meritocracy—are laughably transparent, self-serving lies. Minimal effort seems to go into maintaining them, and those segments of the population who have decided to believe them will seemingly believe forever, no matter what facts or revelations to the contrary may become apparent.
The Democrats, however? They’ve got a filthier game going. The Democrats—and I hope it’s self-evident that I’m talking about the institution and the careerist politicians that make it up here, rather than the insurgent outsiders like AOC who are trying to change things from within—have to expend tremendous amounts of effort to pretend that they care about working people, about minorities, and about the environment. They don’t. America’s political system is so rotten and drowned in money that the vast majority of even those well-intentioned folk who get into politics out of a genuine desire to do good and to serve the people are tainted and bought-for in short order after arriving at Capitol Hill.
They bail out banks, they criminalise minorities, they wage endless wars abroad—but as long as the Democrats keep on smiling and being not quite as evil as the Republicans they can carry on riding that sweet, sweet gravy train. To these people, someone like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who refuses to take any big corporate money and who from her first day in Washington shines a light on the skewed priorities of the place—
Right now Freshman members of Congress are at a “Bipartisan” orientation w/ briefings on issues.— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) December 6, 2018
Invited panelists offer insights to inform new Congressmembers’ views as they prepare to legislate.
# of Corporate CEOs we’ve listened to here: 4
# of Labor leaders: 0
—to these people she is a real threat, simply by virtue of being an example of how things could—and should—be. That is why you have had so many reports of establishment Democrats whining about how she is ‘too radical’, too naive, and that she doesn’t know how the game is played yet; how they’re afraid she will turn her Twitter spotlight on them soon when she should be using it to damage the Republicans instead. The last point is pure gibberish as a) it isn’t an ‘either-or’ scenario, and b) Ocasio-Cortez has already been doing more burning of Republicans than a lot of the Dems whining about her.
What’s that? You want an embodiment of this entitled, complicit Democrat attitude? A walking, talking avatar of the centrist, gradualist nonsense that pretends to be progressive and yet only really provides comfort to the small minority who are already catered for? Why hello there, Mr. Sorkin!
Aaron Sorkin: The new crop of Dems need to "stop acting like young people" pic.twitter.com/qGZqWDpXi8— jordan (@JordanUhl) January 20, 2019
News Flash: Medicare for All & equal rights aren’t trends.— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) January 20, 2019
When people complain about low turnout in some demos, it’s not because communities are apathetic, it’s bc they don’t see you fighting for them.
If we don’t show up for people, why should you feel entitled to their vote? https://t.co/oGRsG9NZV3
A huge amount of ink could be spilled on how people like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar—who propose policies that represent a real and present threat to the status quo—are upsetting the ideological underpinning of the establishment, but the double fear-whammy for a lot of these defenders of the system—and the reason behind all those replacement Banana Republic cargo pants—is that so many of these insurgents happen to be women—and even worse: women of colour! Because what could be more terrifying to a person who has devoted their life to climbing to the top of a system structured along white supremacist patriarchal lines than a challenger who does not conform to any of those criteria and therefore does not automatically stand to benefit from it, and who refuses to play by the established rules. Usually, the system would co-opt these challengers. That’s how it survives. And while this crop of very vibrant challengers won’t be ushering in a revolution any time soon, they are threatening a totally viable and relatively dramatic shake-up. The nexus of policy and identity here is too much for some people to take. In the mind of someone like Aaron Sorkin, a brash, young go-getter like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez exists to burn too brightly with the fires of idealistic naivete before being schooled and mentored by an older, ‘wiser’ player of the game. Who coincidentally probably looks strikingly like Aaron Sorkin.
AOC: ‘Here are the urgent problems and these are the radical solutions they require.’
Sorkin: ‘Oh, haha, how naive! I was young too once, you know! Here, come under my wing, let me show you how t—…’
AOC: ‘Nah, we’re good.’
Forget that Pikachu meme. Outraged Sorkin is the one.
Sorkin: ‘We need to stop thinking about trendy, fringe issues like transgender bathrooms.’
Everyone: ‘Transgender bathrooms are a wedge issue designed to prepare the ground for even further rollback of hard-won minority rights and they are not separable from the wider struggle for social and economic justice but in fact part and parcel of the same universalist drive’
Header Image Source: Twitter