I’m with them on the spinning thing. When politicians speak, I want them to speak the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. I realize I won’t hear the whole truth. But please, can we at least hear nothing but the truth? AOC does herself no favors when she uses false analogies to understate the expenses of Medicare-for-All. And when she makes a mistake, she should own it, rather than adding that “
“I’m sure Ms. Cortez means well, but there’s almost an outstanding rule: Don’t attack your own people,” said Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.). “We just don’t need sniping in our Democratic Caucus.” And then we have the reported comments of an unidentified Democratic Congressperson who is considered a fellow progressive: “She needs to decide: Does she want to be an effective legislator or just continue being a Twitter star? There’s a difference between being an activist and a lawmaker in Congress.”
Indeed there is. Activists, you see, reflect a wide range of political views. They think for themselves. They don’t feel straightjacketed by party discipline. They may even make people like me proud to be Democrats. But lawmakers? Not so much.
Consider the primary campaign for President in 2016. We had two candidates who basically split the members and the activists of the Democratic Party down the middle. Personally, I’d say that roughly half of the Democrats I know were for Bernie, and half for Hillary. Nationally, Bernie won roughly 3/7th of all Democratic Primary votes. Pretty close, right? But now consider the lawmakers and other power-brokers. Bernie won the endorsement of only a single U.S. Senator (Jeff Merkley). He also won the endorsement of only a single individual who had ever served as a Cabinet Member (Robert Reich). In the House, you can count the number of Bernie’s endorsements on both hands. As for sitting Governors, Bernie didn’t get a single endorsement. When it came to the powers-that-be, Hillary cleaned his clock.
How did that all work out, America?
Believe me, AOC was watching. She supported Bernie at the time, notwithstanding former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright’s comment (in reference to the Sanders/Clinton competition) that “There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other!” AOC would have also seen what happened when the Democratic Party controlled the White House, the House of Representatives and the Senate (at one point, having 60 members of that body). It failed to pass any meaningful gun control measure. It failed to implement substantial progressive reforms to the tax system. It failed to implement transformative climate change legislation. And while it did succeed in implementing the same health care program that Mitt Romney once brought to Massachusetts (which, from a progressive standpoint, is a positive step toward universal health care), it failed to implement the public option, let alone Medicare-for-all – and now even our Romney Care is in jeopardy.
In short, once we move beyond the ancien regime, with its Great Societies and its New Deals, the Democratic Party hasn’t done much to satisfy the needs of the working class, and not since Richard Nixon have we seen a massive governmental boost to help the environment. AOC isn’t satisfied with those results. Can you blame her?
At 29, AOC still has a lot to learn about Washington. Most critically, she needs to guard her credibility like a hawk and recognize that a commitment to “truth” is every bit as important as a commitment to justice and compassion. Empathic Rationalism demands that our politicians refrain from B.S., no matter what broader principles they are trying to serve. But when it comes to fighting for high marginal tax rates, Green New Deals, or politicians whose greatest loyalties are to the needy, I am 100 percent behind her. We’ve seen what happens when the old guard runs the party. It’s time for AOC and others like her to assume the mantle.
So keep dancing, AOC. I’ve got your back.