It takes a certain brilliance to come out of nowhere and win a seat in Congress with only 16,000 votes and then instantly propel yourself to the national stage. Freedom lovers and free marketers, as well as those Republicans who are neither, should hand it to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) and learn from her instead of just lambasting her inane ideas.
Granted, some luck was involved in her rise, as follows.
AOC was lucky to be a minority at a time when being minority is a political plus in many locales, especially New York City.
She also was lucky to be part of the generation that has been steeped in social justice, fairness, egalitarianism, diversity, and global warming in K-12 school and college—and that votes accordingly, often without the experience and education to put these issues in historical context, to know counterarguments, or to understand tradeoffs and alternate ways of achieving the same ends. Not knowing what she does not know, AOC comes across as sincere and authentic to constituents who also don't know what they don't know. As such, she is not conflicted by what she says, even when what she says is counter to facts and common sense.
Last, she was lucky to launch her political career in the center of the national media in New York City, where journalists, like most journalists, despite their natural skepticism and cynicism, love David-Goliath stories and thus favor firebrands who take on the bourgeoisie and political and business upper class, especially if the enemy is Republican.
At the same time, AOC was smart enough to see the sea change in American society about real and imagined income inequality. Or maybe she had simply jumped on the bandwagon. Either way, as with many of her generation, she blames capitalism for the inequality, with no need to define capitalism or explain the means of production to her followers. As with others of her ideology, capitalism is the villain, period. To AOC and her likeminded idealists and utopians, capitalism is not, as Churchill had said about democracy, the worst economic system except all others. Accordingly, in their binary thinking, socialism must be good because capitalism is bad. Capitalists in turn enable such thinking by not acknowledging the downsides of capitalism and its siblings of free trade and creative destruction—and by not taking the lead in addressing the downsides.
But AOC's greatest talent is her speaking ability. She is articulate, quick on her feet, unfazed when questioned about her core claims and beliefs, and able to find a pebble of truth in defending her avalanche of nonsense. For example, if a reporter suggests that her ideas of replacing air travel with high-speed trains and of reconstructing every building in the country to be net-zero would be unaffordable, she looks the questioner in the eye and quickly responds with a non-sequitur about other expensive endeavors undertaken by the nation in the past, such as the landing on the moon or foolish wars. Of course, the space program was a financial drop in the bucket compared to what her ideas would cost. Also, of course, if money has been spent foolishly in the past, this is a lousy argument for spending it foolishly in the future. But, hey, she sounds good.
She also looks good, even with her bright red lipstick and her hair in a Ruth Bader Ginsburg bun. Or I should say, she looks better and is more animated than most Republican spokespeople and most eggheads in free-market think tanks, most of whom look like stodgy white guys whose undershorts are too tight and who sound like Mr. Mumbles, Mitch McConnell.
It will be interesting to see what prevails in the long run: the hipness, glibness and binary thinking of the likes of AOC, or the boring intellectualism of fuddy-duddies like me. Or to put it differently, would you rather have drinks at a bar with AOC or with me?
Never mind. No need to answer and hurt my feelings.