Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: A giant-killer with giant ambitions
The biggest political story of the week arising from last Tuesday’s primary elections was the David and Goliath takedown of entrenched Swamp Dweller Rep. Joe Crowley (D-NY) by someone who was given no chance. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, 28, who last November was working as a bartender, not only beat Crowley, who outspent her by 10 to 1 – she trounced him by a 15 point margin. The New York Times, her hometown paper of record, had devoted exactly two mentions to her campaign in news stories prior to her election victory.
Original caption: “This photo is from Nov. 14, 2017. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, 28, was then working as a bartender. Less than a year later, she defeated the likely next Speaker of the House, and will almost certainly be the youngest woman ever elected to Congress.” Source: Jeff Stein, WaPo via Twitter
Crowley wasn’t just anybody. He was a 10-term Congressman and an old political hand. He was thought to be a leading contender for the top Democrat leadership role in the House, and maybe the next Speaker, if Rep. Nancy Pelosi winds up being deposed by her caucus either before or after the November elections. Ocasio-Cortez’s win was immediately compared to the 2014 triumph of another unknown, Dave Brat, a Tea Party candidate and a professor at Randolph-Macon College who took down House Republican leader Eric Cantor in an 11 point landslide primary win. That election surprise may have signaled a tectonic out-with-the-old-type shift in the makeup of the Republican Party that, two years later, came under the control of the now iconic outsider Donald J. Trump.
The left and the media are greeting Ocasio-Cortez’s win, “the most shocking upset of a rollicking political season,” as a kind of second coming – that is, of Bernie Sanders. Vermont Sen. Sanders enthusiastically endorsed his fellow socialist Ocasio-Cortez, who had worked on his 2016 presidential campaign. For her part, Ocasio-Cortez had warm praise for her mentor Sanders. Republicans who are cheering this win because they think it presages trouble because the Democrats are lurching too far to the left should remember that Sanders, who ran as a Democrat but is really a hard core socialist, did extremely well and might even have beaten Hillary Clinton if the primaries hadn’t been rigged by the DNC.
Ocasio-Cortez, a member of the Democratic Socialists of America, favors universal single payer health care (aka socialized medicine), tuition free for all four year college at state schools, and the elimination of ICE. Her unconventional decision to eschew campaigning in the final days and fly to Texas to demonstrate in solidarity with illegal immigrants – at the time seen as an unwise move – is now being assessed as a brilliant political stroke. In a comparison that is not too far afield, like Donald J. Trump she acts impulsively and speaks her mind and so far the constituents in her Congressional district in Queens, N.Y. (70% of them are “people of color”) seem to approve.
Ocasio-Cortez is assured of making it to the House in November as her district is as safe for Democrats as possible. Once there, where will she go politically? I predict further on to the left. What has she got to lose? Plenty of other ambitious high profile Democrats are heading in the same direction. A majority of her party has no problems with socialism and the promise of a handout for all has often been a winning strategy for Democrats (ask Barack Obama), who in recent years have remade themselves into Democrat Socialists. Remember the Newsweek cover at the time of Obama’s first inauguration? “We Are All Socialists Now.”
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez looking hopeful in a screen shot from a video by Sarah Lerner at O-C’s 2018 campaign Twitter
And what about Ocasio-Cortez’s future ambitions? In estimating this aspect, she reminds me of President Obama. He exuded hipness, he was attractive and articulate, he came out of nowhere when America seemed to crave something new – and he was the right color for the country’s emerging demographic shift that is slowly and inexorably transforming to minority-majority.
The thought of aiming for the very top job has apparently not escaped soon-to-be Rep. Ocasio-Cortez. On Thursday, basking in the glow of her daughter’s impressive victory, the newly minted pol’s 55-year old mother, Blanca Ocasio-Cortez, told the New York Post, “Her aspiration is to be the president.”
A friend of mine who is an astute observer of American politics with a sense of realpolitik, and who despises socialism because of what it did to her country in the last century, offered these observations about Ocasio-Cortez:
She is looking like a total construct. Groomed and primed in secret, and prepared for this political world. See how much she smiles, see how happy and young and healthy she looks. If you vote for her, you will also feel young and happy and healthy and smiley. That is the strategy and it will work, because socialism is a multi-generational strategy, and the advancing phalanx of socialist voters is FOUR generations deep.
Let’s hope that my friend is wrong. But at this point, can anyone be sure?
Peter Barry Chowka is a veteran reporter and analyst of news on national politics, media, and popular culture. He is a frequent contributor to American Thinker. Follow Peter on Twitter at @pchowka.