I am hesitant.
It is a little dangerous to criticize influential progressive thinkers on an influential progressive site. But I attempt to live my life knowing my limits, respecting the fact that others have different beliefs, and that a “voice” comes with big responsibilities. I think Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez needs to do a little thinking on that end. To the extent that it sounds condescending, please remember that I blasted the shit out of one of Biden’s answers just a week and a half ago.
In a recent interview, she thought it important to explain:
Asked by New York Magazine for a profile published Monday about what role she might play as a member of Congress should Biden capture the White House in 2020, the freshman House Democrat from New York responded with a groan.
“Oh God,” she said. “In any other country, Joe Biden and I would not be in the same party, but in America, we are.”
I respect AOC. She accomplished a brave feat which I could never have done. I also like the fact that she’s thrown the board up in the air a few times and put the “establishment” on notice that the younger leaders of the party demand a voice.
She has earned that voice.
But just like every other voice, whether from a Pelosi, Biden, Bloomberg, whomever, she is responsible for the impact, and she should be held accountable by people on her own side. A lot of people have been so excited by her fresh progressive approach that she’s been “beyond-criticism” in many places.
Not here, at least not with me.
Look at the question she was asked, about a possible role she might play in a Biden White House.
First, and most obviously, I don’t care if Biden is your last choice behind Bloomberg (he is somewhere back there for me), the “entry-level” response to that question for any Democratic politician should be noting how grateful she would be to see the White House function again, and then say something like; “I would hope a large one, because any Democrat elected (see? slip Biden’s name back out, like a good Sanders’ supporter) will owe the progressive left a lot for that victory. We will win the right to have a big voice in any new administration, especially as we return to sanity.” (See? Punch Trump).
This is not rocket surgery. Even me, the guy in a hut in rural Mississippi, can do it. No controversy, no slamming a member of her own party, nothing just … stupid!
I don’t care if it is even true! Perhaps her answer is accurate, since the U.S. is one of the few binary political systems in the world, maybe it is true. But what does it have to do with anything? She lives here, she has tremendous power here, in this nation. Additionally, when she is threatened by Trump and Republicans, she needs Democrats – all Democrats – to step-in and show unity, moderate to … AOCs, to blast back. Her voice is infinitely weaker without the “collective” Democrats behind her.
She used a softball question to create controversy and make it less likely we vote out Trump by dividing the party that has the only chance to beat him. Her next line proves it.
Ocasio-Cortez broadly lamented what she identified as the outsize influence that more moderate Democrats wield within the party’s House majority, labeling the chamber’s centrist wing “the tea party of the left.”
Look, I “broadly lament” the outsize influence of the more moderate Democrats, too, but not as we enter a presidential election and especially not this presidential election. And I really wouldn’t give them such a horrific label. Who does she think she is? The “Tea Party” is a vile, largely racist movement that progressed to the MAGA-heads, and she’s now put that upon people like Biden. Ironic, since the Tea-Party formed to oppose “leftists” like Biden and Obama.
For all she knows, Biden might offer her a cabinet position. No, she would not get State or Treasury, but maybe Health and Human Services. Maybe Biden sees a bit of himself in her (he was 29 on election day to the Senate, and was told to shut-up more than once). He might set her up to run for the Senate or President.
I know one thing, she’s not going to get it with those answers and she’s not going to be able to get anything done as the most isolated voice representing the hippest crowd in Brooklyn.
I realize she’s attached to the Sanders’ campaign. Good for her! I hope they’re successful. But I gotta tell you, if Sanders is successful in getting the nomination, no one, and I mean no one, is going to regret those comments about the moderates more than AOC as they go into the general election. Because “Democratic Candidate Bernie Sanders” is not becoming “President Bernie Sanders” without the Joe Bidens, Nancy Pelosis and Barack Obamas working their moderate asses off to get him there. But every one of these quotes is going to get put right back to her, and her candidate. Then what?
She is going to wish she had thought through some of her answers more carefully. And so this column is nothing more than an invitation to do just that. I hope she succeeds, I hope Sanders or someone from the left succeeds. But she is making it less likely.
Let’s all agree on something. Biden has as good a chance as anyone of getting nominated. If that happens, she is going to have to ask herself which is “worse,” having Joe Biden as president, who would listen to her, or Donald Trump. Trump will mock her, tweet about her, put her and people that look like her in danger, all while using her as a vicious tool.
AOC is a necessary new presence, and a powerful one. She is needed. But wow, can she can ever shoot herself in the foot sometimes. It hurts much worse when that same shot is against all of “us.” It especially hurts the people for whom Trump represents an even greater danger, which – ironically, includes people of color and … people like her.
UPDATE: Some extremely “woke” person just emailed me to explain why I need to now kill myself, and no, I am not kidding. It was more vile than anything I’ve gotten from the right. I am not feeling sorry for myself, with a voice comes responsibility and risk. Just know what we’re dealing with.
firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @MiciakZoom