AOC, The Right Wing, and Mind-Numbing Hypocrisy.
How AOC’s very existence within legislative space is a catalyst for conservative double standards and anger.
As those close to me know, I come from a very conservative family. My Dad in particular has really exposed me to a lot of right wing viewpoints and rhetoric, and I’ve unfortunately watched him grow further and further to the right over time. One thing I have noticed over the past few months in particular is the vehement hatred and smearing of freshman representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and my Trump-supporting father is one of the many conservatives who thoroughly enjoys taking part in this. In a text message debate after he sent me the link to a Piers Morgan article about her, he said:
“I will not be told how to live or ruled over by a bartender…She insults me almost every time she opens her big mouth…She’s loud, entirely self unaware and simultaneously confident in her opinions to a laughable fault.”
It was in the moment that I read this text that I realized the full extent of not just my Dad’s, but the right wing’s overall hypocrisy, projection, and mind-numbing double standards when it comes to this woman alone.
“I will not be told how to live or be ruled over by a bartender.”
Dismissing AOC as nothing more than a bartender who’s in way over her head, as so many on the right like my Dad often do, is not only blatantly condescending, but I would argue is disgustingly racist and misogynistic as well. It dismissed everything she has accomplished, as well as all the systemic obstacles both inside and outside the context of the Democratic Party that stood in her way, and ignores just how hard she worked to get where she is.
Just to put in to perspective everything she has achieved, let’s remember where she came from and how she got here.
AOC’s entire extended family pooled in money so that her family would be able to put a down payment on a house just outside of the city, because they saw something in her and wanted her to have a better chance of succeeding at a time when only about half of high school students in New York City were graduating. Her mother cleaned houses in exchange for SAT lessons for her, and she went on to graduate with honors from Boston University with a BA in economics and international relations. After her father died during her sophomore year, AOC graduated and went home to work as a bartender to help out her family because they were about to lose their home after the financial meltdown of 2008.
AOC was then nominated to run for Congress under Brand New Congress and Justice Democrats by her brother, and the now famous ‘Knock Down the House’ documentary implies that she may have been the first candidate nominated to receive a unanimous vote to be moved up in the process towards running under their umbrella. Her chief of staff actually left Justice Democrats to work for her campaign, because he believed so strongly in her and her fight. In a stunning and historic victory, AOC went on to defeat the fourth most powerful democrat in Congress, Joseph Crowley, who was the potential speaker of the house, and had endorsements from Governor Cuomo, Kirsten Gillibrand, Chuck Schumer, Bill De Blasio, and others. She did this as a 28 year old woman with absolutely no experience running for office or working within a campaign, and all while still working as a bartender.
To accomplish what she did required an almost unimaginable amount of work, and speaks to how she has truly earned her place in Congress. She knocked on thousands of doors, spoke to thousands of people, and took the time to really get to know her community and learn about what mattered to them. She is where she is today because she is of, by, and for her community, and to dismiss her as nothing more than a bartender ignores all of it.
The reality is, AOC represents the epitome of the achievement of the American Dream, which is something the right wing claims to be the vehement defender and champion of. Through hard work, dedication, and passion she was able to achieve incredible things and reach her potential. But of course, because she is a brown Latina woman from the Bronx on the left of the political spectrum, they despise her.
“…She insults me almost every time she opens her big mouth…She’s loud, entirely self unaware and simultaneously confident in her opinions to a laughable fault.”
Putting the unfortunate misogyny and racism in those comments aside, the unbelievable projection coming from comments like these are almost laughable. Keep in mind, those words are coming from a Trump supporter. The Right did not dismiss a reality TV star with six failed businesses as unqualified for office, and yet they shamelessly attack a well educated woman and organizer with working class experience as unfit to represent her working class community. Entirely self unaware…Confident in her opinions to a laughable fault…if anyone embodies that description, objectively, it is Donald Trump.
But objectivity, as so many of us know, is something that the right wing has very little concern for, and AOC is just one of numerous outlets by which they are able to prove that fact. I would love to be able to engage in an honest, well thought out, good faith debate about our politicians on both sides of the political isle, but as this conversation with my Dad reminded me, that’s almost impossible in today’s political climate. How can we have such a debate about AOC’s politics when her very existence in legislative space is enough to enrage conservatives, and ignite deep seeded racism and misogyny? Maybe someday, we’ll get to a place where honest discussions with the right wing about our politicians is possible. It might not be easy with my Dad, but I can’t help continuing to try.