Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Official Portrait, US House of Representatives/Wikimedia Commons

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Official Portrait, US House of Representatives/Wikimedia Commons

Attempts to Mute Ocasio-Cortez Prove That Democrats Still Don’t Get It

Since taking office, Democratic representative from New York Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has been spitting fire. Now, however, it looks like Congressional Democrats are pushing for the freshman rep to clamp it and get with the program.

In early January, Ocasio-Cortez surfed onto Capitol Hill on a wave of local support and nationwide attention. Not one to rest on her laurels, however, the self-proclaimed radical immediately set to work proposing an array of ambitious ideas that are both intriguing to her fanbase and terrifying to established party members.

The Center of the Storm

She wants to nationalize healthcare. She said there was “no question” Donald Trump was a racist. She wants to tax the super-rich as much as 70 percent of their annual income. Even more dangerous, she wants to use the extra dough to completely eliminate the United States’ carbon emissions inside 12 years.

Even as she was shaking up her Party, AOC spent her first month in office side-stepping an array of controversies. In what played like a deleted scene from Footloose, GOP hardliners tried to get her in trouble for dancing in a PG-rated college video. Some dill hole circulated a picture of a porn star and claimed it was a nude selfie of Ocasio-Cortez. Trump hurdled that racist comment with a simple, “Who cares?”

Each time, however, GOP attempts to undermine AOC’s popularity have come back to bite them in the ass in a big way. After all, who hates someone for dancing? How was the porn star thing NOT going to backfire? And isn’t Trump aware by now that when he comes off so blasé about race relations, he only fuels his enemy’s anger? It’s an odd mirror image of Trump’s rise to power.

Play Along, or Play Alone

To say that AOC’s first few weeks in office have tended toward the inflammatory is something of an understatement. The constant media heat has prompted a growing number of Democrats to ask, “Does she want to be an effective legislator or just continue being a Twitter star?”

It’s a sentiment shared by several of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s peers. Honestly, though, it’s a complaint that boils down to this: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez isn’t playing by the rules. For some in the Democratic Party that just won’t work, and if AOC can’t learn to play well with others, she’ll end up having done nothing with her time in office but rack up Twitter followers.

Those people are not only underestimating the sheer force of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s will, AOC’s detractors also illustrate precisely why the Democratic Party has lost touch with its voter base.

A New Agenda

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is tapping into the same kind of malaise at the status quo that Donald Trump harnesses so effectively. She’s speaking to the millions of Democrats who feel as though the rich have too much, who feel that the government should extend a helping hand to those in need, and who feel that their elected representatives are, basically, drowning in a sea of partisan political nonsense.

Meanwhile, those Democratic factors suggesting that AOC get in line fail to realize that they’re asking her to pursue the same agenda that would have passed her over in favor of re-electing a 20-year incumbent who’s single greatest feat in office was attaining a superhuman level of anonymity. 

Even as House Democrats grumble that AOC isn’t a team player, they’re forgetting that she entered the fray without a team. From day one, no one wanted AOC around, except the people who voted for her. When she takes to Twitter, she’s not undermining Democrats, she’s talking to her people.

Like the President, AOC doesn’t feel beholden to the establishment, because she recognizes that her real power comes from her army of loyal followers. Why would AOC ever get in line? What have the Democrats ever done for Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez besides tell her to can the “radical” crap and use her social media presence to parrot party platitudes?

Stamping their feet and getting huffy about some outdated rulebook is never going to get AOC to play along. In fact, it’ll probably just fuel her rise to power.