As we’ve watched the ascendancy of “the squad” — progressive freshman Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan — as the new faces of the Democratic Party over the past week, the common quip has been that they’re the political version of the Beatles.
(The joke is usually so that the attendant wisecrack — that Pressley is the Ringo Starr of the group — can also be shoehorned in.)
The problem with this comparison is that they’re a little more Oasis than they are the Beatles, and not just because the Fab Four were actually good.
If you missed Oasis back in the 1990s, here’s a quick explainer: They thought they were the next Beatles until they collapsed under the weight of their own arrogance and addictions.
The two chief members were brothers Noel and Liam Gallagher; Noel was an accomplished songwriter who was a bit of a jerk while Liam was a brainless hooligan with a messianic complex who was also a massive jerk.
Both of them constantly squabbled, and very publicly at that. There were three other members who were important to the group’s success but otherwise disposable unless they’d gotten themselves embroiled in some sort of controversy.
In short: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California is Noel, Ocasio-Cortez is Liam and the other three “squad” members are the random faceless guys in Oasis who served mostly to back up the Gallaghers and try — somewhat unsuccessfully — to stay out of trouble.
As exhibit A to prove my theory, I present to you Ocasio-Cortez’s Liam-esque speech at a rally in suburban Maryland on Thursday. The democratic socialist explicitly said she was picking up the mantle of the civil rights movement and running with it, and that “the squad” was involved in transformative politics.
“I think a lot about this overall moment,” Ocasio-Cortez said at the Thursday rally in the D.C. suburbs, which was hosted by Maryland Democrat Rep. Jamie Raskin, according to Breitbart. “Not just today, not just this week, but really just this larger moment that we’re in politically.”
“And I really do believe that we’re in a moment where we are picking up where the civil rights movement left off,” she added. “I think that’s where we’re at.”
And she made it clear who was responsible for that moment.
“It took … over 240 years for us to get Ayanna Pressley in Congress,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “It’s taken us 240 years for us to get Ilhan Omar in Congress.”
“It has taken us 240 years to get Rashida Tlaib,” Ocasio-Cortez added.
“It’s taken us 240 years for us to have this unique composite of a Congress in this moment, and we will not go back,” she continued.
“We will not go back to the days of injustice,” she said. “We will not go back; we will go forward. But we sure as hell will not stand still.”
Liam would have been proud.
Of course, what would you have expected from a public figure who vouchsafed to us that we had 12 years to fix the planet before we all die, said that ICE detention facilities were “concentration camps” and gave us the Green New Deal.
According to The Washington Post, the speech was part of Raskin’s “Democracy Summer” series — a series which usually doesn’t draw huge audiences.
Thursday was an exception.
“[A]fter his office announced Ocasio-Cortez’s appearance last week, his phone began to ring endlessly,” The Post reported. “Within hours, all 700 tickets were gone, and his office had to start a waiting list.”
“Usually I’m the attraction, which tells you about our comparative popular appeal,” Raskin said in a paean to Ocasio-Cortez prior to the rally. “She makes news when she gets a cup of water.”
A cup of water which, according to Noel — err, Nancy, could have won her district once it got past the primary stage.
I admit there are a few flaws in my Oasis theory, granted.
Omar has certainly made more headlines than, say, bassist Paul “Guigsy” McGuigan.
Of course, most of these headlines before this week had to do with her anti-Semitic prattling. Some of the headlines this week still had to do with that garbage, as Omar introduced a resolution in support of the anti-Semitic Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement which seeks to treat Israel as an apartheid state.
However, Ocasio-Cortez and Pelosi continue to be the two prime movers in the whole “squad” controversy, even if Ocasio-Cortez (and the rest of the team) don’t feel any particular kindness toward the House speaker who led their party to a majority in the 2018 midterms.
After all, “the squad” is the future, according to Ocasio-Cortez. American democracy has been waiting 240 years for them — and they arrived not a minute too soon.
They’re going to take up the mantle of Martin Luther King and Medgar Evers. They’re going to Make America Great for the First Time. And if you’re a bitter clinger, well, you’re going to be on the losing side of history.
“America has always been the story of those fighting to advance the rights of others and some clinging to the past to preserve the rights of a few,” Ocasio-Cortez said in one particularly straw man-tastic part of her speech.
And you’d better thank your lucky stars you have Ocasio-Cortez and “the squad” making sure they’re advancing the rights of others.
I mean, that’s what socialism has done throughout history, right?
Well, no, not really. In fact, quite the opposite.
But that’s OK, really.
After all, Oasis was a spent cultural force after just two albums and roughly three years. “The squad” doesn’t produce albums (at least I hope that’s not on their plate), but three years sounds about right.
Shame, really, since we’ve been waiting for them to show up for 240 years.
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