Why Is AOC so Popular?

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Is Getting Into 'Animal Crossing'

I have written several articles on postings related to politicians. A list of links have been provided at bottom of this article for your convenience. This article will, however address different aspects on these politicians.

Let’s start with two ground rules. On the one hand, Members of Congress are powerful people enjoying a public trust and authority over the rest of us; subjecting them to critique and even a certain amount of ridicule is healthy in a democracy, where popular opinion is the citizen’s best defense against Washington. On the other hand, it’s fair to ask if a politician is getting an undue share of this, or is being picked on to excess for things like how they dress that have little to do with their merits for the job. So, why AOC? Let me propose seven answers, none of which may explain the phenomenon on their own, but which taken together should help make some sense of it.

First, an elementary rule of political journalism (and even moreso, political entertainment): you always need villains. Personalizing political debates works, and in a world where ideas are implemented through people, it should be a legitimate tactic, and always has been. No matter how high-minded or serious you are (and many people in the political media ecosystem are neither), personalizing the target is also just more fun to write, read, or listen to than dry policy papers. Democrats have it easy right now, as the party out of power: their critical faculties naturally gravitate towards the president and his inner circle. But the party in power typically digs a little deeper: the other side’s Congressional leadership is a start, but attention often falls as well on lower-ranking people who seem to embody aspects of the other side’s unbridled id.

Second, conservatives in particular have a deep aversion to the media’s tendency to fall swooningly in love with the Democrats’ newest young hopes, while opening both barrels at those of the Republicans from the instant they emerge. Ocasio-Cortez originally attracted attention because she was a good story: young amateur who had worked as a bartender knocking off one of the House’s most powerful Democrats in a primary. But she also got a heavy early dollop of the kind of messianic press coverage that greeted the arrivals of Beto O’Rourke, Barack Obama, and John Edwards on the political scene. And then she did a bunch of gasp-inducingly ignorant interviews of the sort that would have provided weeks of late-night fodder if they’d been done by Sarah Palin or Dan Quayle or even Louie Gohmert. The temptation on the Right to push back with a taste of the other side’s medicine is irresistible.

Third, Ocasio-Cortez is an avowed socialist, and several of her policy proposals fit the label. She emerged after years of Democrats angrily lecturing us about how unfair it was to call them socialists, and then in the aftermath of Bernie Sanders rehabilitating the term with Democratic voters, especially younger ones. Bernie himself has been no small target of the Right for the same reason, even after his campaign ended. The fact that Ocasio-Cortez speaks for a different point of view than a lot of other House Democrats means that she actually does stand out for good and ill in DC as a spokesperson for her perspective, in the same way that Bernie or Ron Paul or other Congressional iconoclasts have over the years. The fact that she has eagerly embraced the spotlight makes this a two-way street and ensures a steady stream of new things to say about her.

Fourth, and relatedly, Ocasio-Cortez is both young and Hispanic (specifically, Puerto Rican) in addition to being a socialist. There’s a certain strain among conservative immigration hardliners that argues that large-scale Hispanic immigration means importing all the political dysfunctions of Latin America and ultimately, by sheer demographic weight, turning the United States first into California, then into Mexico, and eventually into Venezuela or Cuba. This is a short-sighted attitude; there’s plenty of data and history to suggest that the long-term arc of Hispanic Americans will be to leave behind the political baggage of their homelands in much the same way the Irish and Italians eventually did. Conservatives determined to thwart that by making Hispanic voters feel unwelcome in our tent could make their own fears self-fulfilling. But in the meantime, that fear is out there, and the 1-2-3 punch of Ocasio-Cortez’s age, race, and ideology makes her a perfect face for that strain of demography-is-destiny thinking and the audience that eagerly laps it up.

Fifth, traffic sells. Whether it’s radio ratings or retweets or clicks, most everyone in this business has some idea of what content generates more interest. Thus, the simple fact that the first hit or two on Ocasio-Cortez got you some attention creates a feedback loop that makes it more tempting to go back to that well rather than try to expose some other less-known or less-polarizing figure in the other party.

Sixth, Ocasio-Cortez is a young woman, and perceived as an attractive one. It may be unfair, but being good-looking has always been an asset in politics (think of anyone from JFK to Matinee Mitt), and especially for women. That cuts both ways in drawing eyeballs: if you know even the first thing about the internet or television, you know that attractive women drive more traffic (and not only from men), and it doesn’t even matter what kind of website or program you run or whether your coverage is worshipful, vicious, or sober. On its own, that doesn’t make anything she does legitimately newsworthy, but if we are describing why things happen in the real world, it’s an additional reason why she gets more attention than your typical Congressional newbie.20

Seventh, and not inconsistently with my last point, Ocasio-Cortez is (like Bernie or Trump) easy to caricature visually – what you might call negatively photogenic. What that means is, it is really, really easy to find images of her that don’t need a lot of help to make her look a bit nutty. In Bernie’s case, that’s a result of his flyaway socialist-professor hair, perpetual sending-the-soup-back facial expression, and big Noo Yawk hand gestures. In Trump’s case, of course, there are even more reasons, starting with an almost limitless array of pictures of him making faces. In Ocasio-Cortez’s case, it’s more a matter of being wide-eyed and animated; conservative memes often capture her with eyes bulging in the middle of talking or shouting. Politicians who are easy to caricature – and better yet, easy to lampoon with photographs – have always made bigger targets (ask Richard Nixon or even Abe Lincoln), and all the moreso in the age of memes.

New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez complained that she’s “one of the most hated people in America,” despite the fact her popularity is so immense she “can’t go outside anymore.”

In a recent interview with New York Magazine, the de facto leader of the Democrat party lamented the fact that she is despised by the President and other conservatives. “I know I am also one of the most hated people in America,” she said. AOC, as she is known to do, suggested that hatred stems from – you guessed it – racism. The hardcore socialist said that her age and skin color made her a target, calling each factor “a tattoo-on-my-face kind of situation.”

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) may be the progressive left’s favorite new Congresswoman, but according to a new poll released by Stop The AOC PAC, her constituents aren’t fond of her.

The group walked throughout New York’s 14th Congressional District, which covers Queens and the Bronx. They knocked on 10,556 doors and spoke to 22,546 voters. They discovered that:

• 58.2 percent of those surveyed were unfamiliar with Ocasio-Cortez.
• 50.8 percent of those surveyed had an unfavorable opinion of AOC.
• 56. 6 percent of those surveyed said they were unsure if Ocasio-Cortez had their district’s best interest at heart.
• 33.4 percent of those surveyed said they would oppose AOC running for reelection next year.

“Facing an electorate more concerned with results than retweets, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez has problems in her backyard. Despite her online notoriety and fandom in the national new progressive movement, the citizens of New York District 14 want a representative aligned with their values,” the group concluded. “After surveying voters in 2,261 homes in the district, it’s clear Rep. Ocasio-Cortez is not the model for hope and change she sold herself to be.The opportunity for a new voice is prevalent, and the electorate is ready to take action in 2020.”

The political action campaign was started by Washington, D.C.-based attorney Dan Backer, who has “a particularly strong dislike” for Ocasio-Cortez’s leftist policies. He decided to survey AOC’s constituents to see whether or not she was vulnerable to a primary or general election challenge, the Washington Examiner reported. Poll: AOC disliked, distrusted, unwanted in her own NY district.

She does not have a strong constituency outside her core support group. Maybe AOC needs to take a step back from social media and focus on what her constituents actually want. She champions ridiculous ideas, and the reality is, only a small fraction of Americans – and apparently her constituents – agree with what she pushes. This poll is just more proof that Ocasio-Cortez is more focused on being a rising star in the progressive movement and championing progressive ideas than she is about actually representing her constituents. 

 

Resources:

nationalreview.com, “Why Does Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Get So Much Attention From The Right?” By Dan McLaughlin; thepoliticalinsider.com, “AOC Complains She’s Hated In America Even Though She’s So Popular,” By Rusty Weiss; townhall.com, “Poll Reveals Just How AOC’s Constituents Feel About Her…And It’s Enlightening,” By Beth Baumann; washingtonexaminer.com, “Poll: AOC disliked, distrusted, unwanted in her own NY district,” By Paul Bedard;

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