Everyone is talking about Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez because she’s the hot new political “it girl.” I know that’s an incredibly condescending way to describe a 28-year-old woman who just got elected to Congress, but it’s true. Let’s be straight up, we’re treating her like we’re a bunch of horny senior boys and she’s the high school freshman girl who blossomed early. It doesn’t help that she’s acting like the girl who’s already working on her extra-curriculars for her college application to Wellesley by running for everything from student council secretary to captain of the cheerleading squad. This may sound absolutely insulting to her and her accomplishments, but so is treating her like she’s Joan of Arc.
Look, I’m happy AOC (I am NOT gonna type that long-ass name every single time) won a seat in Congress at 28, making her one of the youngest members of the House in history. It’s super cool that she is so pumped up to go out there and get things done. It’s awesome that we’re so excited for a member of Congress to represent younger voters and their concerns. But uh... could everyone involved quit being so GD extra about everything? AOC literally got elected last week and hasn’t done any work in Congress yet, but folks think her joining in an environmental protest at Nancy Pelosi’s office is like she saved America or something — or she burned a bald eagle alive.
About that protest at Nancy Pelosi’s office — does she know she’s a member of the Democratic caucus and can just show up to her office to talk to her now? I get what she was trying to do, but I mean it strikes me as a bit theatrical. One could almost say it’s a, and pardon me if you get a bit salty about this, political stunt. Now, I know everyone knows that she’s the Kahlesi that has come liberate America from all those old farts in the Democratic party, but let’s be real, she’s a politician now. That means that she’s gonna end up doing shallow, obvious stunts and having to make the sausage. You know the whole “like watching sausage get made” thing, yeah, that’s what I meant. I mean, wait 'till she has to do the phone bank for donors.
Because the American system of politics is so broken and money driven, members of Congress actually spend most of their time literally dialing for dollars. Yep, there’s this call center members of Congress go to for like 30 hours a week where they’re handed a list of donors and call them on the phones soliciting for cash. Now I know you’re saying, “She won’t do any of that insider politics crap! She’s there to shake things up!” How absolutely adorable.
Let’s be perfectly real here, if she wants to even be moderately effective as a legislator and not some permanent backbencher who has a bigger media profile than portfolio of accomplishments, she’s gonna have to play the game. Oh, you insist that’s why things are so messed up with the “politics as usual” stuff. Well, buddy, when was the last time an inexperienced new guy came up into your job and tossed over the apple cart and tried to make sweeping changes and it didn’t get them fired in six months?
Besides... That’s what the hype is telling you. After that sit-in protest at Pelosi’s office that got all of social media aflutter in hot takes and misinformation, Pelosi wasn’t flustered by the protest and AOC said she admired Pelosi and said we should all support her when she becomes Speaker of the House. The whole protest was about environmentalism, and it turns out that Pelosi has had a long history of environmentalism in Congress. Lots of folks forget that Pelosi was the first female Speaker in history, but AOC doesn’t. Oh sure, Pelosi is an old fart member of Congress and is often seen as a “Corporate Democrat,” whatever that’s supposed to mean, but she’s actually pretty progressive if you look at her voting record and positions. I mean she was pushing for a minimum wage increase in 2007, is ranked highly by the ACLU, is very pro-LGBT and a lot of other things that would surprise you.
But you bought the hype about Pelosi. You also bought the hype about Ocasio-Cortez. AOC has had a lot of foot-in-mouth moments and has been pretty clumsy on the campaign trail. For example, she said in an interview with Vogue that the Democratic party has to be about “more than for LGBT rights.” Ouch. Look, I know what she was trying to say, but what a clumsy and awful way to say it. AOC is an incredibly inexperienced politician with a lot of piss and vinegar...ew...I mean spunk...wait, that’s not any better, uh...gumption? But she’s gonna screw up a hell of a lot because of that. That’s why they never let the new kid run things without any supervision. She’s gonna screw up and have to adapt to the way Washington D.C. works if she wants to be effective. She’s also not the savior we’ve been waiting for because she has none of the power needed to be so, yet.
We’ve been sold a lot of hype about AOC — she's either an incompetent fool and/or the savior of humanity — but it’s just hot air. Most of the anti-Ocasio hype is whipped up by conservatives to divide the party, just like the hype about Pelosi being awful and bad for the party is. Throw in a media hungry for controversy and clicks you get the current state of American politics.
AMANDA KERRI is an Oklahoma-based writer and comedian, and a regular contributor to The Advocate. Follow her on Twitter @Amanda_Kerri.