Conservative writer/commentator Ben Shapiro has challenged Democratic nominee for New York’s 14th Congressional district Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to a debate.
Ocasio-Cortez refers to herself as a Democratic Socialist. She has no previous experience in government and no practical experience in foreign or economic policy. She did graduate with degrees in both from Boston University. She’s 28 years old.
Shapiro graduated from Harvard Law and has been publishing conservative think pieces for the last 15 years.
The debate won’t happen. The candidate won’t bite the hook. But the entire event, and the response in the media, social and otherwise, shows that we learned nothing from the 2016 election.
Most criticism related to Ocasio-Cortez has been focused on her inexperience and the gaffs she’s made in interviews related to the specifics about what she does or doesn’t know about things that are new to her. They refer to her as a bartender.
I’ll leave out my personal anecdotes about just out how much I’d trust a Bronx bartender over an experienced politician and get to the point.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is smart enough. And she knows enough. Her public gaffs aren’t that crazy relative to your garden variety stooge in congress today. There’s a gentleman in my neighboring district who used an official credit card to pay for his kids private school and filed it under a “gaff”. He’s still in office. Ocasio-Cortez will survive the gauntlet of sounding foolish from time to time on camera.
What’s most important, and this is the lesson we, as a civic institution of debate and process have not learned, is that it matters more what she has, than what she doesn’t. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has charisma and the allegiance of a political base. And at 28, she’s likely to be around for a long, long time. She represents her base in a way that few candidates do. That zeitgeist harnessing ability of an Obama or a Trump is, by far, the most important thing in politics. Ben Shapiro calling her on the carpet for a debate does nothing to stop it. Dismissing, personally attacking, or patronizing her does nothing to stop it.
After two years of the same approach to Trump, that base is as strong as ever. And so is he.
No candidate that chooses the label Democratic Socialist is likely to have my vote. The American problem is not that we don’t spend enough money. It’s that we don’t spend it effectively or on the right things. The fix to that over the next fifty years are hard conversations about what to stop doing so we can start doing better things. People that lead us through hard decisions have trust from both sides. I don’t see Democratic Socialist leading that effort.
We will get universal healthcare when people who don’t identify as socialist see the light. Leading from the middle does that. Not from the fringe.
I think we should all be comfortable with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez being a part of the American political landscape for a long, long time though.