Thursday, October 29, 2020

AOC: "These Are The Same People Saying That We Can’t Have Tuition-Free Public Colleges Because There’s No Money, When These Motherfuckers Are Only Paying $750 A Year In Taxes"



At some point after they were sworn in, AOC, Ayanna Pressley, Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar-- the Squad-- thought about forming an official caucus within the Congressional Progressive Caucus-- that would be more aggressive in pushing a progressive agenda than the CPC has been. They never went through with it but the CPC has been taking steps in that direction lately-- and may be taking bigger steps very soon. When I look over the list of current congressional candidates likely to be sworn in 2 months, I could several who I can easily imagine "joining" the Squad: Cori Bush (MO), Jamaal Bowman (NY), Kare Eastman (NE), Mondaire Jones (NY), Liam O'Mara (CA), Julie Oliver (TX), Mike Siegel (TX), Nikema Williams (GA), Nate McMurray (NY)...

Yesterday everyone on Capitol Hill was reading the Vanity Fair cover story, AOC's Next Four Years by Michelle Ruiz. It started with the fuller story of how she was accosted by two right wing Trumpist congressmen, Ted Yoho (who is retiring) and Roger Williams, who (Julie Oliver is probably going to replace). "This part," wrote Ruiz, "hasn’t been reported: The next day Ocasio-Cortez approached Yoho and told him, 'You do that to me again, I won’t be so nice next time.' She felt his actions had violated a boundary, stepping 'into the zone of harassment, discrimination.' His mocking response, straight out of Veep: 'Oh, boo-hoo.' Publicly, Yoho doubled down, issuing a non-apology on the House floor, citing his wife and daughters as character witnesses."

Ocasio-Cortez flashed back to one of her first jobs out of school, when a male colleague whom she’d edged out for a promotion called her a bitch in front of the staff. She had been too stunned to reply, and no one came to her defense. She wouldn’t let it happen again.
Forty-eight hours later, Ocasio-Cortez delivered one of the most eloquent dunks in political history, a “thank u, next” for the C-SPAN set, taking on not just Yoho but the patriarchy itself. She took care to enter “fucking bitch” into the Congressional Record. “I want to thank him for showing the world that you can be a powerful man and accost women,” she told the House. “It happens every day in this country.” And the line that spawned headlines, T-shirts, hashtags, and memes: “I am someone’s daughter too.” Watch:

Ruiz continued that AOC's "Yoho rebuke inspired a fresh wave of awe for the youngest U.S. congresswoman in history and cemented her status as neopolitical icon-- not just good on Twitter (where she schooled her congressional colleagues in a tutorial) and Instagram Live (where she gave an impromptu address on the dark night of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death), but a skilled orator with the power to move even her most cynical congressional colleagues. 'They were like, I didn’t know you’re that eloquent,' Ocasio-Cortez says with a wry smile. 'I’m so pleased and surprised by your restraint.'"

She is a boogey man of GOP political ads. Dozens of Republicans have made it look like they are running against her rather than against thrown members of Congress. Meanwhile AOC has 9.4 million followers on Twitter. Other prominent congressional media stars:
@SpeakerPelosi- 5.5 million
@RepAdamSchiff- 2.5 million
@RepJim_Jordan- 1.7 million
@TedLieu- 1.4 million
@Devin Nunes- @1.2 million
@GOPLeader (Kevin McCarthy, a congressman from Bakersfield, CA)- 1 million
Much to the alarm of the Democratic establishment, "From her swearing-in in January 2019," wrote Ruiz, "Ocasio-Cortez became the de facto spokeswoman for the historically diverse 2018 midterm class, including a record 36 women and 24 people of color as freshmen in the House. Yoho’s outburst on the Capitol steps was a painful illustration of how some in the entrenched ruling class greeted their arrival-- a finger in the face of change. AOC’s status as overnight sensation unsettled some in Washington. 'I’ve never seen folks who were in the gallery get all excited about seeing a member of the Oversight Committee,' says Representative Peter Welch, a Vermont Democrat and friend. 'Other members are jealous.'" It's rare to hear a member admit that. I hear it, off the record, from staffers all the time-- even to the point of members plotting to keep the media away from her.
She has demonstrated a special talent for triggering white-male fragility on both ends of the political spectrum. Three months after her 2018 primary, Andrew Cuomo dismissed her victory as a “fluke.” Ron DeSantis, a congressman at the time, called her “this girl…or whatever she is.” That demographic of politico are allowed to be wunderkinds—Joe Biden was 29 when he first won his Senate seat; Mayor Pete Buttigieg launched a presidential bid at 37, the same age as Tom Cotton when he ascended to the Senate. But “we are not used to seeing young women of color in positions of power,” says journalist Andrea González-Ramírez, an early chronicler of AOC’s rise.

Even back then, her public profile came with a threat of danger. A month into Ocasio-Cortez’s first term, a Coast Guard lieutenant and self-described white nationalist was arrested in Maryland with a stockpile of guns and a plot to kill Ocasio-Cortez, Senator Kamala Harris, Pelosi, and others. His internet search history included “where in dc to [sic] congress live.” He eventually pleaded guilty to federal drug and gun charges. Around the same time, Ocasio-Cortez came home to the D.C. apartment she shares with her partner, Riley Roberts, to find a man with a camera parked in a dark car outside. She ran to the back of a grocery store, fearing she might be attacked. The next day, a right-wing outlet published photos of her address, blurring it only after her office complained.

The death threats seem to spike in concert with Fox News rhetoric. “I used to wake up in the morning and literally get a stack of pictures that were forwarded by Capitol police or FBI. Like, ‘These are the people who want to kill you today,’ ” she says. The torrent of abuse spread to her mother, Blanca, and her younger brother, Gabriel.

“It’s the epitome of being shaken to your core,” Gabriel says. “Getting a phone call from the FBI saying, ‘Hey, don’t open your mail. They’re mailing out bombs.’ ” A designer of AOC’s Cesar Chavez–inspired campaign posters gets death threats; her former dean at Boston University, who introduced Ocasio-Cortez in a 2011 speech viewable on YouTube, regularly fields emails calling him the N-word for “training” her. When President Trump lobs one of his attacks at Ocasio-Cortez-- he has called her everything from a “poor student” to a “wack job”-- her offices are flooded with calls, voicemails, and emails echoing him.

... Ocasio-Cortez’s charisma and raw talent are often compared to Barack Obama’s. Not three years into her congressional career, speculation abounds about a future presidential run, with everyone from Howard Dean to Cardi B rooting for it. No sooner had Kamala Harris been chosen as Joe Biden’s running mate than chatter began bubbling about a 2024 primary between Harris and Ocasio-Cortez, who turned 31 in October and would only narrowly make the 35-year-old age requirement.

“I’ve told her, I fully expect that she’s going to run one day, and that she should,” former Housing and Urban Development secretary and 2020 candidate Julián Castro told me. “She absolutely has the talent, the dynamism, and the leadership ability.”

At Ocasio-Cortez’s census awareness event in the Bronx’s Pelham Bay Park, women approach the congresswoman to cry, gush, and hug. (Pandemic be damned, AOC, in a pale blue suit, matching mask, and beige Rothys, opens her arms and indulges every selfie request.) “I can’t wait until you’re our president someday,” says one. Another, Jessica Forbes, grabs a selfie with her and tells me, “She’s going to be our Bernie Sanders.”

In 2016, Ocasio-Cortez was a volunteer organizer for Sanders in the Bronx. Three years later, she became the most crucial backer of his 2020 presidential campaign, at a time when her support was also highly coveted by Elizabeth Warren.

“She endorsed me right after I had a heart attack, and there were some people who were writing our campaign off. I’ve always been very grateful to her for doing that,” says Sanders. “There are some politicians who are very good on policy, and there are some politicians who are good communicators, and there are some politicians that have a way about them that relates very well to ordinary people,” says Sanders. “Alexandria has all three of those characteristics.”

Despite the base level of ego required to run for any office, Ocasio-Cortez seems uncomfortable with the mania about her future. “I think it’s part of our cultural understanding of politics, where-- if you think someone is great, you automatically think they should be president,” she says. “I joke. I’m like, ‘Is Congress not good enough?’”

Her aspirations are a matter of endless speculation: New York Senate, House leadership, a Cabinet post? “I don’t know if I’m really going to be staying in the House forever, or if I do stay in the House, what that would look like,” she says. “I don’t see myself really staying where I’m at for the rest of my life.” This is one of the few times AOC seems guarded and cautious about her words. “I don’t want to aspire to a quote-unquote higher position just for the sake of that title or just for the sake of having a different or higher position. I truly make an assessment to see if I can be more effective. And so, you know, I don’t know if I could necessarily be more effective in an administration, but, for me that’s always what the question comes down to.” She does not believe in political messiahs, nor does she see herself as a “hierarchical, power-based person.” At the beginning of her first term, her staff still called her Alex. It was only when journalists on the Hill started to follow suit that her team collectively decided to address her as Congresswoman. She blends into the crowd at Pelham Bay Park, even though she’s the only one in a suit. When a nearby gender-reveal party pops a blue confetti cannon, she throws her hands in the air and cheers. When I ask Pressley what the popular narratives miss, she cites humility. “She certainly did not set out to be an icon or even a historymaker. I think it was her destiny, but there is no calculation.”

As Ocasio-Cortez puts it, “I don’t want to be a savior, I want to be a mirror.”

...It should not be groundbreaking for a political candidate’s life to closely resemble that of her constituents, but AOC’s rise has proved the power of proximity. When a majority of Congress members are millionaires, having lived on the edge of poverty, Ocasio-Cortez says, “makes me better at my job than 90 percent of Republicans, because I’ve actually worked for a living.” While still waitressing at the outset of her 2018 run, she changed her shoes on the subway platform and pushed a granny cart full of fliers and posters around the Bronx. She Swiffered the steps of her own campaign office and lugged in an air mattress as a makeshift couch. She stumped in a pair of sneakers by the brand & Other Stories until they were toast. (They were later displayed in a museum at Cornell University.)

Neither the financial collapse nor the fundamentally broken health care system were abstracts for Ocasio-Cortez, a vocal supporter of Medicare for All and a persistent critic of the Affordable Care Act. “The main reason why I feel comfortable saying that the ACA has failed is because it failed me and it failed everyone that I worked with in a restaurant,” she says. She would take wads of cash tips to doctor appointments. “You try buying insurance off of Obamacare,” she tells me, a line meant for her out-of-touch colleagues. (As a bartender, she did buy a plan, paying $200 per month, she says, for the “privilege” of an $8,000 deductible.) For a while after she was sworn in, even with a snazzy congressional insurance plan, Ocasio-Cortez says, she still rolled to the pharmacy and paid cash for her prescriptions out of habit. The first time she saw a doctor or dentist in years was when she became a congresswoman.

...Critics have seized on her working-class roots, taunting her for having been a bartender while pointing at her wardrobe and D.C. rental as an attempt to expose her as bougie fabulist.

...With a congressional salary now-- $174,000, stretched over two of the most expensive cities in America-- dressing for the job remains fraught. “It’s legitimately hard being a first-generation woman…and being working class, trying to navigate a professional environment,” Ocasio-Cortez tells me at our Bronx breakfast, where she wears a rust-colored suede moto jacket and a Black Panthers T-shirt. She asks for more hot sauce and never once checks her phone. “It continues to take me so long to try to figure out how to look put-together without having a huge designer closet.” Unlike the Kennedys and Bushes, she was not groomed for politics or even corporate America. No one ever conveyed to her the nuances of business casual or business formal. Which is why, unlike so many female politicians past, she’s willing to talk about her appearance with her 7.2 million Instagram followers.

AOC is the perhaps the only member of Congress who moonlights as a beauty influencer: Sharing her go-to red gloss-- Stila’s Stay All Day Liquid in Beso-- translated to a sales spike. “Every time I go on TV, people ask for my lipstick,” she says. On TikTok, the Yoho speech has become a popular lip sync for makeup tutorials-- one young girl applies winged eyeliner while mouthing, “He called me dangerous.” But like Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s prickly dissent collar, Ocasio-Cortez’s appearance is a study in meaning. The gold hoops and red lips she wore to her first swearing-in were a cosmetic Bat signal to Latina culture and a nod to fellow Bronx native Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who was told not to rock bright nails at her confirmation hearings.

The Squad has claimed crimson lips as a show of strength. As the congresswomen furiously scrawled talking points before the press conference responding to Trump’s “go back” attack, Pressley called out, “Who needs lipstick?” and passed around a tube. “Now,” says Pressley, “any time we think a day is going to be especially trying, where one of us walks into a committee hearing wearing a bold red lip, we say, ‘Oh, it’s about to go down.’”

Ocasio-Cortez notably delivered the Yoho speech in her trademark Beso red. Afterward, Pressley said to her, “ ‘You know how I know you showed up to do business? Because you matched your lip with your suit,’ ” Ocasio-Cortez recalls. “[Ayanna] was like, ‘That’s when I knew she didn’t come to play.’ ” Ocasio-Cortez acknowledges that she had, in fact, come to the floor in bold colors to give herself a little extra confidence. “I had a little war paint on that day, for sure.”

...My interviews with Ocasio-Cortez come at a precarious moment in history-- before Election Day 2020, during a series of news cycles that are stunning even by Trumpian standards. When we first sat down in her Bronx office, the New York Times had just published its bombshell investigation of Trump’s taxes. Talking about it winds up Ocasio-Cortez, her tie-dyed mask pulled down to eat a sandwich. “These are the same people saying that we can’t have tuition-free public colleges because there’s no money,” she says, “when these motherfuckers are only paying $750 a year in taxes.” Within a week Trump was in the hospital with COVID-19 and Mitch McConnell was plowing ahead with Amy Coney Barrett’s hearings. “Trump is the racist visionary,” AOC says, “but McConnell gets the job done. He doesn’t do anything without Trump’s blessing. Trump says, ‘Jump.’ McConnell says, ‘How high?’ Trump never does what McConnell says.”

“This is not about a decision between two candidates,” Ocasio-Cortez says solemnly. “It’s about a decision between two countries.” A Biden win gives her district, which is dominantly made up of Latinx, Asian, and Black people and had been the epicenter of the epicenter of the pandemic, a fighting chance. If it’s Trump, “I cannot honestly look them in the eye and tell them that they will be safe.” To that end, AOC spends the final days of October drumming up blue votes by playing “Among Us” with supporters online while more than 400,000 people watch via the livestream platform Twitch, demonstrating yet again that she is the party’s singular communicator.

But the ending of this story is the same, no matter which man wins. America is “still in a lot of trouble,” warns AOC. There is a temptation to view Trump as an aberration, she says, rather than a wake-up call to failures of American government at large.

Under a President Biden, “if his life doesn’t feel different,” she points to a cab driver whizzing by our table, “if their life doesn’t feel different,” she gestures to people walking by the beauty shop and Bengali Halal Grocery, “if these people’s lives don’t actually feel different”-- now she is giving a stump speech over her omelet-- “we’re done. You know how many Trumps there are in waiting?”

She is tired of incremental change, of “bullshit little 10 percent tax cuts,” she says. “I think, honestly, a lot of my dissent within the Democratic party comes from my lived experience. It’s not just that we can be better, it’s that we have to be better. We’re not good enough right now.”

A new crop of AOCs is popping up across the country-- young, progressive, working-class candidates of color who sought seats of power by her example. “I wouldn’t have run for office if it weren’t for AOC and the Squad,” says Jamaal Bowman, a former New York City principal.

Of the many knocks on Ocasio-Cortez, one of the most prevailing is that she drives the political conversation but lacks a substantive coalition in Congress. “They’re four people and that’s how many votes they got,” Pelosi once quipped of the Squad. But the potential addition of Bowman, fellow New Yorker Mondaire Jones, Cori Bush from Missouri, and Marie Newman of Illinois to the House would mean “the Squad just doubled up,” Bowman says. Ocasio-Cortez gets animated as she imagines the rest of this “Squad-plus”: Nebraska’s Kara Eastman and current Illinois representative Chuy García, with Sanders, Warren, and Ed Markey (“Tío Markey”) as Senate allies.

“You keep telling me I’m just four votes,” AOC says, “so I’mma go get more.”
As I've been explaining all year, by Pocan selling CPC memberships to conservative Dems looking for primary-insurance, the caucus badly needs fixing. Now that Pocan has delusions of running for the Senate, Pramila is working to make the caucus less dysfunctional and more of a real player. That might be the best way for AOC to be able to push back against the Blue Dogs' and New Dems' innate conservatism and fear of moving away from the status quo.



At 1:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

She does have a way with words. But even a thorough interrogation of what has gotten done (that isn't just democrap campaign ads) since she was elected shows that words are about all there have been.

And, damningly, her silence on MFA during this pandemic MUST BE presumed to be surrender to pelo$i and her health insurance and phrma lobbies (for the sake of the 2020 election).

Then: "Ocasio-Cortez’s charisma and raw talent are often compared to Barack Obama’s."

There it is! obamanation has to be in the conversation for worst ever president. good talker. charming. didn't do shit for improving the nation or his party. In fact, he did far more harm than most before him and what he did to his party, moving it further right by orchestrating the nom of biden... should have earned the democraps a death sentence from their voters... but obamanation (and AOC) do understand their voters. specifically, they are dumber than shit.

they only want to HEAR what they want to hear. They never EVER demand that actions match the words.

AOC can run for president in 2024. And she can win... *IF* she abandons all pretense of being progressive, swears fealty to the money and the party. *IF* she wins the nomination, you will know that $he has sold out. As of now, only the results point to this outcome.

full stop.

but are politics all about fooling all your voters all the time? Or do you want some fucking results? ever?

At 5:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

And AOC puts Pelo$i in her place WHEN?

At 6:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Give it a rest 1:33 and 5:20. Whenever DWT focuses on a women, you can't wait to criticize and bless us all with your wisdom. What do you expect AOC to accomplish in two years? Just shut up and give her a chance to make changes in the party and be patient. She IS the future of the party, whatever you may think.

At 9:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Golda Mier
Maggie Thatcher.

Innocent females? Or bloodthirsty warmongers?

Save your misandry for more suitable forums. Gender plays no role in our criticisms.

At 6:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

6:36, a case of seeing only what you want to see?

I don't critique anyone because of gender. I critique because of who/what they are... and are not.

If she is the future of the party:

1) we have 30 years to wait before she could possibly climb high enough, UNLESS she has sold out.
2) if she sold out, which seems the case, then that future is going to be exactly like the present.

Do you remember when pelo$i was AOC decades ago? $he wa$, you know.

And here we all are today.


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