All my adult life I have been a moderate Democrat, or progressive Conservative if you will. Some things reasoned with me on both sides but in general, I was always more focused on policy than people. I always believed elected officials were meant to put country over party, people over partisan politics and I harbored a secret admiration for these suits whom I idealized and envisioned were great heroes trying to make the future a little bit brighter.
But I have been proven wrong.
With the election of Donald Trump came the emergence of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and with them, a complete overhaul of everything I used to know to be a democracy. My opinion of Donald Trump before he announced his candidacy was favorable. He was a fun, charismatic albeit a little crazy, reality tv host who occasionally made cameos on Fresh Prince in Bel-Air and partied with drag-queens in Las Vegas. He was never the brightest bulb in the box but he was liked and his mere existence didn’t cause global demonstrations or make people weep for humanity. When he was elected President, people were outraged – and with that unprecedented outrage, a young bartender emerged as the antidote to everything Donald Trump represented. Void of postgraduate education, fiscal knowledge and policy experience, the young activist rallied her people, beat the incumbent in her district and won a seat in Congress as the youngest Hispanic woman ever to hold that seat. America was thrilled. Finally, someone that was going to give Trump a run for his money.
And she really did.
Ocasio-Cortez was still a freshly minted Congresswoman and barely one week into her new job when it dawned on me that she was cut from the same claw as Trump. They both shared the same hateful and divisive rhetoric, they were both wildly underqualified for the positions they had obtained and they both shared a deep aversion for listening to others. Trump was slandering people left and right on Twitter, speaking cavalierly about Gold Star families, insulting a dying McCain and running America like he used to run his company – which he was arguably pretty terrible at. Meanwhile, AOC was no better. She had emerged as the fresh face for a new world order but compared to when Barack Obama similarly burst onto the scene, she appeared like an inexperienced, political novice with a lack of education and an air of arrogance to match the Presidents.
When Barack Obama emerged out of nowhere, much like Ocasio-Cortez, he was a breath of fresh air; he was measured, reasoned and carried with him a lengthy list of academic credentials and accolades. While these achievements in and of themselves don’t qualify one for political office, it does speak for one’s ability to weigh in on issues in the public arena articulately and knowledgeably.
AOC comes with none of Obama’s experience, charisma or intelligence. What she does bring is Donald Trump’s ability to throw temper tantrums when things don’t go as planned, slapping labels on opponents that show dissent and an uncanny affinity for rallying people using divisive rhetoric. Ocasio-Cortez, like Trump, is pugnacious in the face of perceived slights by news organizations, abuse Twitter on the daily and frequently apply fascist authoritarian means to get her message across.
Like it or not, Trump and AOC are diametrically opposed only in views.
As for myself, I’ve embraced the fact that political beliefs are a curve and not a line. Move too far left, and you start going back round to the far right. When Trump took office, it moved me slightly more to the left but when AOC emerged, she pushed me straight to the right.
If elected officials could only be committed to bridging the growing partisan divide and remember that it should be country over party.
But that is the idealist in me speaking.
Photo by @TheWeek