Freshman Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) will be the person gracing the cover of Time magazine’s April 1 edition. As I #resist the urge to make an April Fool’s Day joke, I’ll just say that, for someone who obviously relishes the spotlight, she’s quick to whine about the inconveniences it brings to her daily life. C’mon, woman, buck up and enjoy it while you can.
After noting that AOC won her district by defeating a 10-term incumbent and checks three important boxes for the party of identity politics (Hispanic, female, and her young age), the Time article admits, “No lawmaker in recent memory has translated so few votes into so much political and social capital so quickly.”
At the same time, she’s a freshman legislator trying to get the hang of her first big full-time job. “I miss being able to go outside in sweats,” she says in her office one day in March, settling into a black leather chair after a long day of subcommittee hearings. She’s much smaller than she looks on TV, with a warm but cautious manner. “I can’t go anywhere in public and just be a person without a lot of people watching everything I do.”
Well, one reason a lot of people are watching everything she does is that she puts her life on social media, as many millennials do. It seems silly to complain when people are watching “everything” she does because she videos herself on the street as she walks to a furniture store to purchase a chair or uses Instagram to show herself cooking dinner. She is a master of self-promotion. Isn’t the point to get eyes on herself?
The young socialist is taking a hit in polling now that she’s been in office a whopping three months and people have heard some of her policy positions. Those of us on the right are appalled that she is a supporter of the budding wave of young voters besotted with the idea of a socialist America. So, by speaking out against this political vision, Fox News viewers and conservatives are blamed by Time magazine for her decline in the polls. That might be plausible, I suppose, if the criticisms of her were only from the right but there are also some moderate-leaning Democrats who are finding a spine and beginning to speak out when they disagree with her. The Green New Deal, her policy paper on climate change which she now simply calls a guideline because it’s received blowback from sane Democrats, has become a litmus test for the 2020 Democrat candidates for running for president.
Public opinion of Ocasio-Cortez has soured as she becomes better known; according to a Gallup poll conducted in February, 31% of Americans overall have a favorable impression of her, against 41% unfavorable—a 15-point swing since September. The same poll found that her popularity had increased with Democrats and nonwhites. Her Green New Deal proposal has driven policy debates on the left, but it has virtually no chance of becoming law anytime soon. Her allies plan to boost primary challengers to moderate and conservative Democrats, a push that Ocasio–Cortez has distanced herself from but one that has earned her the enmity of some colleagues. Many House Democrats resent her celebrity and worry it overshadows efforts to reach the moderate voters who propelled the party to the majority. Privately, some admit they’re also a little afraid of her.
A former Obama advisor cautions Democrats to not “take the bait” on supporting all of her leftist ideas because it turns off moderate voters. She represents her own district in New York, not all of America.
A decade later, Ocasio-Cortez is teetering on the edge of a political phenomenon that’s out of proportion with her power to change a nation as America remains resistant to the leftism that catapulted her to stardom.
‘America isn’t her district,’ former Barack Obama adviser Joel Benenson told Time. He argued that Democrats shouldn’t run so hard toward socialism that they forget to placate the moderates who comprise most of the party.
‘Democrats shouldn’t take the bait,’ he said.
Something that jumped out at me was this quote: “An entire generation, which is now becoming one of the largest electorates in America, came of age and never saw American prosperity,” she says. “I have never seen that, or experienced it, really, in my adult life.” She was born in 1989, the same year as my son, and I was amazed when I read that. By the year of her birth, Ronald Reagan had brought back a failing economy from the disaster that was the Jimmy Carter presidency. Her father was a small business owner. Her mother worked and she benefited from her family’s move to an area for better schools. She went on to college herself. This is the American dream. I imagine that the Reagan tax cuts provided tax relief for her parents and her father’s business. She now compares her adult life in negative economic terms yet she is only 29 years old and is in her first real full-time job. Her monetary compensation, by the way, is quite generous, with benefits, too. If she lasts longer than this one term in office she will be well on her way as an adult.
AOC’s challenge is to be more than a flash in the pan. She has to be more than the new shiny thing and get some policy knowledge depth. Millennials want everything right this minute and that’s not how Congress works. In the meantime, she should enjoy the ride for as long as it lasts.
— TIME (@TIME) March 21, 2019