The Democratic political establishment is calcified and shaky on its aging, aching feet, not knowing what to do with Alexandria the Great.
Do they bend the knee? Do they dare oppose her and the movement she represents?
Meanwhile, establishment Republicans mock Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez with the same simpering, self-satisfied snickers they once applied to Donald Trump, before he was elected president to kick them in their sensitive parts.
By contrast, establishment Democrats understand her. She’s the face of an energized hard-left movement pushing them further and further to the left. And there’s not a damn thing they can do about it.
They’re somewhat afraid of her, now that she defeated 10-term incumbent U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley of New York, who was in line for a prominent leadership role until she crushed him in the Democratic primary a month ago.
She’s a rock star. She looks good on TV. She’s young, and she excites young voters who didn’t much like the constant hectoring of Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party that rigged the last presidential primary against Bernie Sanders, helping to usher in Trump.
She’s a Latina.
She’s a socialist.
And not some wealthy champagne socialist, either, but a real one, a Sanders organizer, though with a harder edge than old Bernie. She’s not folding like he did. She’s herding.
Alexandria is a hard lefty, much further to the left than the big government elite Democratic Party apparatchiks.
The Democrats praise her ostentatiously and hope to use her. But you can hear the trembling in their voices, fearful that Alexandria the Great — like that little boy in the old “Twilight Zone” episode — might just wish them off into the cornfield.
“I have three kids, two of whom are daughters,” Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez said recently in an interview with liberal radio host Bill Press. “One just graduated college, one who is in college, and they were both texting me about their excitement over Alexandria because she really — she represents the future of our party.”
The future of the Democratic Party?
She had a disastrous coming-out on the PBS reboot of “Firing Line,” flubbing easy questions on the economy: “Well, unemployment is low because everyone has two jobs.” And though she proved she shares the left’s visceral hatred of Israel, when pressed she said she was “not the expert on geopolitics on this issue.”
Liam Warner of the National Review wrote: “Most of the time Ocasio-Cortez opened her mouth only to change feet.”
But she’ll improve. Her message isn’t for Republicans, but for the Democratic Party:
Abolish ICE (the Immigration and Customs Enforcement bureau) and effectively end enforcement at the border; mandate a national $15-per-hour minimum wage; promise “free” health care for all and “free” college tuition; and drop some hate on Israel.
You may argue that such policy goals are unworkable, unaffordable, maybe even somewhat idiotic and threatening. But that’s irrelevant.
It’s a chant. Candidates who refuse to sing this chant may find themselves, as Lenin would say, “on the wrong side of history.”
For Democrats, the great push leftward — especially the call for what amounts to open borders — may play well on America’s two left coasts. But it won’t help woo the working class in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Ohio, which abandoned the Democrats for Trump in 2016.
And it may just help Trump in 2020 by ensuring that the Democrats nominate some looney-tune.
Moderately left-of-center Democrats met in Ohio recently for their Third Way conference, to argue that a Bernie Sanders progressive wasn’t the way to go. But possible Democratic headliners stayed away. They don’t want to be shamed.
Elsewhere, New York Democratic U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, who loved the Clintons before the #MeToo movement overwhelmed her support for Bill, now wants to abolish ICE if Democrats take Congress in the 2018 midterm elections.
“So, when we flip the House and flip the Senate, I think the first thing we should do is deal with the children who have been separated from their families at the border,” she said. “I think we should get rid of ICE.”
The revolution so far has not been televised. The American news media, overwhelmingly liberal but wedded to the establishment class, have spent much of their time since November 2016 railing against Trump.
The shrieking from the Democratic Media Complex helps bind the progressive tribes together against their common orange-haired enemy. But all the wild, emotional virtue signaling has obscured something.
It is the legitimate anger of those on the left as to how they were treated in 2016, when Democrats insulated themselves against democracy by rigging the primaries against Sanders, using the leverage of superdelegates for Clinton and taking all that Wall Street cash.
Sanders voters — many of them young, passionate and idealistic — see the Democratic establishment in much the same way that young libertarians and conservatives viewed the Republican establishment in the last political cycle: as corrupt, cynically self-serving — and in the way.
Those who understand politics know that Trump was a symptom, not a cause.
And so is Alexandria the Great.
To their peril, Republicans mock her without understanding.
Democrats understand but can’t help bobbing like corks at sea in the wind.