The left’s new darling is Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (“AOC”). The 29-year-old congresswoman from New York catapulted into the political scene in November as the face of a new “democratic” socialism. The media hang on to her every word and fawn over every gesture. Her “New Green Deal” is the talk of the nation. Conservatives take note of and ridicule her antics, hyperbole and errors.
She is the center of attention wherever she goes. She shocks, amuses, alarms and flabbergasts the public. The political circus around her is such that many say that she must not be taken seriously.
A New Style of Politician
At first glance, this might seem a logical conclusion. She represents a new kind of political persona that has entered Congress and no longer reflects the seriousness and gravity that used to characterize public officials. This new way of being a politician cares little for rules, procedures and standards. Indeed, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez’s written and spoken statements are riddled with factual, mathematical and even grammatical errors. AOC, as she is known, is famous for her Twitter analysis, spontaneity and brash style that takes on the establishment. It is hard to take someone like this seriously.
She and others like her are the products of these postmodern times when politics has taken on an ever-shallower character. In this new political world, there is no truth but rather each has his or her own “truth.” All must be choreographed to present the best possible image and greatest possible emotional impact. Selective outrage and assumed righteousness are the order of the day. Things take on the appearance of entertainment rather than political discourse.
This new style of politician is theatrical and communicates a dynamism that comes with all that is sensational, personal and emotional. AOC manages to engage (and enrage) every kind of public. Her rashness enthuses the left. Her radicalism fascinates the center. Her outlandishness enflames the right.
A Public Avid for Entertainment
The appearance of this new style of politician should not be surprising. It reflects a culture in which people are avid for entertainment and stimulation. People with this mentality want everything to be instant, effortless and without consequences.
This mentality is transforming every field. Thus, reporting has become news-entertainment that distorts reality and provides the “fake” news that plays to the frenzy of the moment. AOC represents a kind of politician-entertainer that acts upon the national stage providing moments of drama and comedy to a public eager for a momentary thrill or quick Facebook post.
To stand out amid the frenetic intemperance of the day, AOC presents a spectacle that is sensational, shallow and even bizarre. She must submit proposals that are on the edge of absurdity. They must be just crazy enough to incite conservative outcry, yet just credible enough to excite liberal commentary.
Both the congresswoman and the public coincide to create the almost surreal atmosphere of the American political scene where almost anything is possible, nothing is certain, and all is quickly forgotten.
A Serious Response
The serious response to AOC is to take her seriously—very seriously. This is because she represents not only herself but a whole class of politicians of the left that will bring the nation to ruin. There are three reasons why her ideology must be opposed.
The first reason is that her ideas are very dangerous to the common good. Just because her persona is shallow does not mean that her ideas are harmless. Any serious response to AOC must separate the shallow persona from her toxic ideology. The superficial exterior only camouflages a philosophy that has brought untold misery to billions.
She is a socialist and proudly so. It must be remembered that socialism was the banner under which the Soviets enslaved nations. Hitler employed national socialism to wreak havoc upon the world. Repressive regimes in China, Cuba, North Korea and Venezuela all invoke socialism. Efforts to “reinvent” socialism have always failed.
Socialism can never be an option for America no matter how it is packaged—be it democratic, communistic, Nordic, third way, nationalistic, Bolivarian, or “for the twenty-first century.”
The notion of proudly marching under the banner of socialism, whatever the brand, must be very seriously, deliberately, and efficaciously opposed.
Accepting the Unacceptable
A second reason to oppose AOC’s ideology is its radicalism. Just because many see her ideas as absurd does not mean that she sees them that way. She believes fervently in her dangerous ideas. People have the mistaken idea that extremist visions like hers can never be adopted because they are outrageous, impractical and illogical.
However, they fail to realize the historical role of figures like AOC in the process of getting bad ideas accepted. For the left, extremist ideas serve as an energizing standard around which they might gather and attract idealists.
For society in general, the outlandish standard serves to intimidate and fascinate. When extremists propose their sweeping revolutionary ideas, they make less socialist ideas appear reasonable to moderates. They scare the indecisive political center into gradually accepting unacceptable alternatives. If unopposed, history has shown that radical Jacobins can eventually reach beyond their outrageous goals and bring misery and chaos upon the nation.
The Wrong Model for the Future
Finally, the AOC model, and ideology, must be opposed because the future of the United States cannot be based on a political circus. The nation will not survive if it follows a shallow and emotional narrative in which acts have no consequences and truth has no meaning. The national agenda must be based on reality and not the utopian fantasy some desire. Given America’s leadership role in the world, such attitudes can have grave consequences.
The only model that will work for America is one in which political thought is grounded on principles. Society must be governed by ordered liberty, informed by natural law. America needs principled leaders who are not afraid to take a stand and confide in God.
If the AOC model becomes the new normal, it will lead to America’s ruin. Despite the appearances to the contrary, she, and her ideology, should be taken seriously—very seriously.
John Horvat II is a scholar, researcher, educator, international speaker, and author of the book Return to Order, as well as the author of hundreds of published articles. He lives in Spring Grove, Pennsylvania where he is the vice president of the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property.