If you’re old school online, you may remember that time when mansplainy Marxist chud Freddie deBoer got ridiculed by some feminists and seemed to set off on the well-trodden, horseshoe-shaped path toward the land of “maybe conservatives have a point about this cancel culture thing” blah blah blah.
deBoer lags behind fellow pilgrims (Greenwald, Taibbi, etc.) who have ritually swallowed the red pill at the opposite end. Meanwhile, he has resurfaced at New York Mag, of all places, to plant a signpost, more in sorrow than anger, at least for now. The title of the piece is “AOC Is Just a Regular Old Democrat Now.”
See, AOC endorsed Biden on “Pod Save America,” and the congresswoman has failed to distribute the socialist goodies that are languishing in her handbag. So she’s a sellout.
Typically, when I criticize Ocasio-Cortez, the response is not to argue that she has actually acted deftly as a politician, much less that she’s demonstrated any consistency between her statements and her actions. Instead, I’m constantly told that the problem lies in expecting anything from her at all. Hey, she’s just one Congresswoman! She’s hemmed in by her party and an undemocratic system! She’s constrained by capitalism! Again and again, I’ve been told that asking Ocasio-Cortez for minimal ideological consistency or, even worse, results, is simply to ask too much.
Shades of conjured Tom Friedman taxi drivers and Maureen Dowd siblings haunt that paragraph. I suspect deBoer’s correspondents presented reasonable arguments about the limited power of a single representative among 435, the function of consensus and coalition within democratic systems, the structural advantages the U.S. Constitution provides to land masses, dark money in U.S. politics, etc.
I don’t believe deBoer is “constantly told that the problem lies in expecting anything from her at all,” except maybe by the chorus of strawmen in his head. Conveniently, the chorus segues to the central thesis:
But this defense immediately suggests a rather damning question: if AOC never had a chance to do anything… what have we been celebrating her for? Why has she been subject to such immense, embarrassing hagiography? And if the response to every complaint about a lack of results is to say that we should never have expected anything in the first place, what was the point of nominating her instead of Joe Crowley, the 10-term Democratic machine politician she displaced?
Most people outside deBoer’s immediate ideological echo chamber did not in fact indulge in the “immense, embarrassing hagiography.” It’s true that as a youthful, photogenic, social media savvy, working-class House rep, AOC inspired many young voters, as Rep. Maxwell Frost does now.
This is a good thing! We want left-leaning young voters to feel that they are represented and have a stake because Democrats champion the issues they care about. It’s imperative because Gen Z tends to focus on issues rather than parties.
As for the point of nominating AOC over Crowley, well, arguably, that’s one part of the explanation for how the party moved in a progressive direction, which it inarguably has. The center of the Democratic Party has shifted to the left since 2008. It’s a fact.
We Democratic Party voters did that by electing more progressive representatives who moved the coalition to the left. Not in a straight line; it doesn’t work that way. But the center of gravity shifted.
After trashing AOC for being a Democrat, deBoer goes full heretic and expands his criticism even unto Bernie Sanders! See, deBoer was told that even if Sanders lost the primary in 2016, the campaign would establish “durable lefty muscle” within the Democratic Party.
And you know what, it did! It’s not solely due to Sanders, of course, but he and others did inspire lefty candidates and voters who stuck with the party and therefore have a voice in its direction.
Well, I think the jury has come back in: the increased visibility of a few socialist politicians has not made far-left Democratic power any more achievable or scalable.
“Far-left” and “socialist” are the load-bearing descriptors there, but still, there are none so blind as those who will not see. deBoer concludes by saying AOC was a symbol and that his disappointment in her signifies that “it’s going to take more than symbols.”
Well, good morning, starshine. The earth says hello!
I don’t know for sure what this epiphany portends for deBoer. Maybe he’ll round that curve eventually. Maybe not. I don’t much care. But I’m confident the rest of us regular old Democrats will soldier on.
Shoot, I’m old enough to remember when Nancy Pelosi was considered a far-left radical — before party consensus caught up and “transformed” her into the regular old Democrat who became the first woman Speaker of the House. It’s the way of things. Some call it progress!