Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Lessons from a Surprise victory

Alexandria Orcasio-Cortez may be the future.

Political observers are a-buzz with theories about what her victory means--lots of theories.

Some say it means the Democrats have gone to the "looney left," not just Democratic but Socialist, what with Medicare-for-all and free tuition for public colleges and ending ICE. It is a sign that extremism and "hail Mary" candidates are on the rise.

Some say it is a rejection of the old look of the Democratic Party and that Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, Steny Hoyer, Joe Biden, and God-knows Hillary Clinton had their turn and it is time for a new generation. 

Some say it is a rejection of "the establishment wing" within the Democratic Party, and it portends the rise of the Sanders-Warren leftist progressive voice versus the more moderate Pelosi-Schumer one. It isn't about age, it is about policy.

Some say it is about money in politics. Powerful incumbent Joe Crowley had lots of donations and it is a rejection of candidates who take special interest money. Her video said: "This race is about people versus money." It is a rejection of special interest money in politics.

Some say it is about identity. Joe Crowley is a powerful white male. Rich and powerful white men have a political party already, the Republican Party. She is a working class Latina, who rushes off to work, takes the subway, changes from walking shoes to dress pumps on the subway landing. She is the genuine Democrat.

Some say it is all about her unique District: some 85% Democratic, lots of immigrants, people very open to her criticism of ICE. It is a one-off situation, in a unique Congressional District. It could be disastrous to generalize from her situation.

Some say it is about turnout. It was a low turnout election but she got young people to vote in higher numbers. She won because she is young and energized the next generation of Democrats, and that is what it will take to expand the electorate.

Some say it is that Crowley got sloppy and lazy about his District. She notes someone who doesn't "live here, sent his kids to our schools, doesn't drink our water or breathe our air could not possibly represent us." Crowley was too DC and forgot to look like his District.

watch video

What do I think?

I think readers should invest two minutes to see her video: 

I think all of those responses above are true, all of them, but I want to add one more item. She is a very appealing candidate. She looks and sounds good on TV. She is interesting and fun to watch.

Alexandria Orcasio-Cortez comes across as reasonable, articulate, confident. She does not sound radical even though her positions can be characterized as such. Bernie Sanders sounds more radical than she does. 

She looks genuinely authentic here in the video, getting dressed, shopping, living her life there in the District. She seems like an appealing character in a TV show one might want to watch, and she is interesting to watch on TV in the multiple interviews she is doing after the election. She doesn't talk about policy much on those interviews. She talks about people in her District and it comes across as authentically engaging.

Some candidates have show business appeal. She does. Watch the video. You will see.

From the video
An ongoing theme of this blog is that politics is much more about show business than I had realized before I began my "political tourism" that brought me to New Hampshire and five other states. Candidates are performers. Some people are "stars" and some not. Some shows are hits, others not. Some characters are interesting to watch, others not.

Ocasio-Cortez is interesting.

Trump, too. Democrats who find everything about Trump disgusting and off-putting are largely blind to it, but in fact Trump has well-practiced audience appeal to many Americans. He came to politics as a celebrity and he has refined his act, the stand-up political rally schtick, a mixture of comedy, patriotism, ethno-nationalist rallying points, and All-American political hoop-la. His rallies are show business.

Must a Democrat nominate a show business candidate of their own to match up with him? No, and in fact I think they should avoid that.

But they do need to nominate someone who voters--audiences--will enjoy watching. Someone with appeal.  Trump is putting on a 24-7 political show as president. It may be getting exhausting for voters, and a lot of people hate the show. A majority of Americans may be willing to change the channel, but it will not be to someone boring or un-appealing.  

Democrats need someone with sparkle and appeal. It can be done. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez proves it.


Anonymous said...

If you're a hammer, everything looks like a nail. Peter, if it's always about marketing and show business appeal, how do you explain Mitch McConnell??!!
Hmm, concrete material benefits for the working class or status quo power brokering by the elitist neoliberal donor class? Boy, that's a tough choice.
Two possibilities: a progressive revolution that rejects the Clintonian "New Democrat" neoliberalism and takes us back to the policies of FDR or the sheeple continue to have the wool pulled over their eyes by establishment Dems. For a while, at least.

Anonymous said...

The republican candidate in this race, Anthony Pappas, is a St. John's University finance professor. He would have had zero chance to unseat incumbent Joe Crowley. However, with the upset by Alexandria Orcasio-Cortez, Pappas is going to win in the general election, because the masses will not vote for a hard-core communist, and that's what Alexandria Orcasio-Cortez is. Peter Sage can demonstrate his racist tendencies by commenting on her being a Latina, but who cares what her ethnicity is when she's unqualified for the job? Anthony Pappas for the upset win, in a district heavily democrat.

Further, Peter Sage states, "Rich and powerful white men have a political party already, the Republican Party", which makes me question why "rich and white" Peter Sage is a registered democrat?

Anonymous said...

I smell Curt.

Anonymous said...



who is delusional?

Anonymous said...

Correct spelling is "Ocasio", not "Orcasio", which appears several times here.