I am not so sure. Indeed, the more I see of Ms. Ocasio-Cortez (I refuse to do the AOC thing, which I thought was a designation used in French wine labeling), the more I think she is building a claim to be one of the most important political figures of our age.
Let’s stipulate that, for the most part, she has received, and continues to get, epically favorable treatment in the news. Consider the derision and abuse with which Sarah Palin was greeted when she burst on the scene in 2008, and now consider Ms. Ocasio-Cortez. Mrs. Darth Vader versus the Second Coming.
The most powerful example of the swoon that the Bronx congresswoman has induced among her friends in the media is the story of how conservatives supposedly demonstrated their fear and loathing by mocking the famous video of her dancing while a college student. This is absurd. As far as I can tell, no one has been able to point to a single conservative who actually objected to the video or somehow suggested it was unbecoming. Indeed, most conservatives seemed to think, along with everybody else, that it was just rather charming.
But that’s part of her remarkable talent. She has an uncommon, dare I say Trump-like, ability to exploit deliberate misrepresentation for her own benefit. Note how she quickly seized on the fake dancing “controversy” to shoot another video of herself dancing outside her new congressional office. Twenty million views. Exquisitely done. Or contrast her passionate response to President Trump’s Oval Office address on The Wall with the official Chuck and Nancy American Gothic presentation.
She’s as natural a politician as anyone on the Democratic side. But she is more than that. She’s a symbol—and an exponent—of the radically altered nature of American politics in 2019. The country is in very unfamiliar territory. Assumptions about ideological verities and what the public will or won’t accept from politicians have been battered in the last three years.
Faith in the American model of capitalism has been crumbling for a decade—and not just on the left. Both wings of the partisan divide are challenging the existing order. Donald Trump has brilliantly ridden dissatisfaction with it among conservatives. His more thoughtful advocates are articulating something much deeper than “drain the swamp” populism. They’ve grasped that the old nostrums of free-market, growth-maximizing economic efficiencies no longer appeal to many disadvantaged Americans. Watch Tucker Carlson’s monologue from his Fox News show this week about (among other things) the failures of the market.