“None of you understand. I’m not locked up in here with YOU. You’re locked up in here with ME.”
-Rorscach in Watchmen
(and, also, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez)
Look, here’s the Truth: Donald Trump didn’t win the 2016 election. Yeah, yeah, whine all you want. It’s true and this is how history will remember it: He was installed by Russia.
Just wait and see. Any day now will come the revelation that all that stolen Facebook data from Cambridge Analytica made its way to the Russian troll farms so that they could target just the right right-wing rubes (and, in fairness, to keep enough left-wing dingbats away from the polls) to swing just enough counties to “hack” our Electoral College (even if they didn’t literally hack voting machines, which they very well might have) and steal the presidency while losing the popular vote by millions.
That’s how it happened, people. Somewhere in your hearts, you all know it’s true.
But here’s the other thing: A lot of people did vote for Trump.
This train wreck of a human being should never have been within twenty percentage points of winning, but he was.
Some Republicans voted for him because he won their party’s ticket and they didn’t want another Clinton presidency. Some misogynists voted for him because they didn’t want Shrillary in office.
But a lot of others voted for him because he was an outsider, because they thought he would “shake up the system.” (Well, la-dee-da, mother-fuckers. You sure got your wish.)
So this is where we are.
We have a profligate liar in the White House who has completely demolished all the norms of our political discourse and derailed the way our system has functioned for decades.
For better or for worse, Trump has changed the game…forever.
Enter Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
This up-start, improbable Congresswoman from the Bronx has made a lot of waves, spurring on primary challenges (like her own) to entrenched and well-established Democrats to try to advance a radical, progressive agenda. Like Trump, she uses Twitter in unapologetic defense of her policies and office, but unlike Trump, she’s whip-smart and thick-skinned.
AOC is playing the new game.
Now, of course, comes the chorus of voices telling her to slow down, to check herself, to listen to all these staid and world-wise figures who’ve been in Congress for decades and wait her turn.
“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,” one said, ignoring that we have a so-called president who has maintained his support and even set policy via Twitter. (When I read this, I think of the Parkland kids. Their phenomenal success across the country in sponsoring gun control bills at the state level proves, to me, that activism is the best way to make law in this country.)
Or take Whoopi Goldberg’s on-air castigation: “Sit still…learn the job.”
All due respect, Guinan. She’s not there to learn the job. She’s there to remake it.
Everyone asking AOC to cool her jets is hoping that once we get rid of Trump, politics can go back to the old rules of empowered interests guarding their little lots with paid-for politicians griping over marginal interests as a theater of distraction.
“Those…fools want you gone so they can get back to the way things were. But I know the truth: there’s no going back. You’ve changed things…forever.”
Trump is a paradigm shift. He’s torn down our country’s good name and damaged our economy (Oh, you think things are going great? Wait for that deficit to implode.) and destabilized the world at large (which is what Russia paid for…imagine it: after we bankrupted them in the Cold War by spending trillions on defense and missile shield technology, they have–for a price less than a fighter jet–ruined us for god-knows-how-long).
But he’s also torn down the established political order with him. The Republican party as it was is no more. Now it is a cult of personality with some old dogs following the pack they no longer understand.
The Democrats can either be burned down along with their right-wing cronies or they can pass through this and stake out new territory on the opposite side of the Trumpocalypse.
Ocasio-Cortez gets it. Her policies are exactly what we need to reassert American prosperity and greatness in the 21st century and, what’s more, she sees the lay of the land and understands just how much has changed.
Pelosi has been a highly effective Speaker and a highly effective minority leader for more than a decade. I don’t want to diminish her accomplishments as Speaker.
But that was another era.
If she wants her party to lead America out of this nightmare, she and the caucus are the ones who should sit down and learn the new game.