Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the avowed socialist that won the New York D14 House seat, could be President of the United States.
Did you laugh at that statement?
If you did, congratulations, you likely learned very little from the elections in 2008 and 2016. Let’s take a look at the most significant resume achievements Ocasio-Cortez had before winning this election:
I’m guessing that the same people who scoffed at Barack Obama and Donald Trump becoming President are likely the same people currently assuring us that a socialist couldn’t possibly win a national election in America. Dozens of articles have been written analyzing this win and what it means both nationally and for the Democrat party, yet what’s astounding is how little they seem to understand about why she won. I’ve read articles that include every reason from her policies, gender, race, demographics, attractiveness, a referendum on Trump, immigration, and hard work. Very few touch on the main reasons she won, which are the same reasons Donald Trump and Barack Obama won:
They all have charisma and energy, and that is all you need.
If the last three presidential elections have shown us anything, it’s that if you have enough charisma and energy, you can dominate in politics. I think back to the Republican primary in 2016, and how easily Trump dispatched with all opposition to become President. They all looked weak, low energy, and pathetic next to him, even though it was the strongest group of politicians ever assembled for a primary, likely in all of history. In 2008 and 2012, two run of the mill establishment Republicans got absolutely shellacked by charisma incarnate, Barack Obama. Whether you like him or not, he is one of the best campaigners of all time, and he showed that to a large extent, policy and experience didn’t matter. Republicans practically laughed themselves into a coma that the Democrats nominated a “community organizer.” Now, here we sit watching another community organizer storm the political scene, and somehow for conservatives, it’s an instant replay of the scorn they had for Obama.
The real question for me is not why she won; it’s this: Why is all the energy and charisma located on the left?
Trump is an outlier on the right; his machine-like energy and charisma are unique to him, and not something I see in very many Republicans. The average Republican seems to be a pretty stoic, measured, CEO type character, in the mold of an Ed Gillespie or Mitt Romney. Go ahead, think for a minute of another Republican political figure who is anywhere close to Trump, Obama, or Cortez in terms of pure charisma. I hate to say it, but I follow politics religiously, and I can’t think of ONE.
On the flip side, I see dominating charisma and energy incredibly often on the left. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is not an outlier in her party; I see dozens of candidates on the left with her level of charisma and energy; especially at the grassroots level. Think of this: look at how close Bernie Sanders got to beating Hillary Clinton, and he’s not even particularly high energy. If you put the Bernie Sanders ideas and platform on Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, I would bet my house she would have beaten Hillary Clinton. If you are on the right, you should be anxious about the massive gulf between the parties in the realm of charisma and energy. Apparently, though, conservatives learned nothing from Obama and Trump. I see conservative Twitter continually laughing at her, and dunking on her for being a socialist and how stupid you’d have to be to follow that ideology. Understand this: none of that matters. The policies she champions are absurd; there is no way you can do the barrage of free entitlements, and still advocate open borders without obliterating the country. And yet, despite the complete idiocy of it, there’s not a shred of doubt in my mind that she would beat 90% of current Republican candidates.
Republicans need to get over these policy arguments and learn the lesson of Trump, Obama, and Cortez and start nominating people that can persuade and inspire people. Mike Cernovich and Scott Adams, both of whom correctly projected a Trump win, see in her the same “master persuader” energy that he brought to bear. Even though Trump had decades of negotiating and business experience, it wasn’t his resume that got him into office. Trump won on his strength, energy, and charisma, which Ocasio-Cortez has in spades. The GOP and the RNC better start finding candidates with these qualities, because if they keep putting up boring Bush types like Ed Gillespie, there is going to be a blue wave, and it’s going to crash right on all of our heads.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has a lot of problems. She advocates for absurd socialist policy, she claimed to be from the Bronx and played that card for all it was worth, only for us to find out she was raised in the affluent suburb of Westchester. She has no business experience of any kind, short of bartending. Yet, none of this matters, she still crushed one of the top Democrats in the country. If she ran for President in 2024, she would likely win. Trump is the only Republican that could conceivably bear her, and he cannot run for a third term. It’s fascinating to watch how the two sides of right-wing Twitter are handling her win. Regular conservatives are making fun of her and laughing about the fact that she’s a socialist community organizer; while MAGA Twitter, the pro-Trump side, recognizes the true threat she poses.
Republicans better start taking her seriously, because she might be the first candidate capable of bringing serious socialism to America, even more so than Obama. She’s an attractive, high energy Bernie Sanders. If that doesn’t scare the right, nothing will.
We haven’t heard the last from her, not by a long shot.
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Steve is the author of Forging the Iron Mind, and is the founder and CEO of Americana Prime.