I’ll say this about Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: She stays on brand.
Most Americas are trying, in our own ways, to unite during the coronavirus pandemic. We still all carry our political animuses, as you can probably tell. President Donald Trump is still upbraiding reporters, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says the president is costing American lives, and we all disdain the other side as much as we did three months ago, when this was unthinkable.
Perhaps most importantly, however, we’ve been focusing on what brings us together. Our strength, our charity, our resilience — these are the virtues that have always made our country great. They’re worth celebrating. They’re worth holding on to, even more so now that the hour is dark.
To those for whom the hour is always dark, however, there’s a capacity to find even darker stains upon the American soul. In this vein, I give you AOC, who says coronavirus has exposed the fact we’re in a “brutal, barbarian society” for working people.
In a livestream on social media this week, the New York Democrat was discussing the potential actions she thought could be taken by nationally and locally to alleviate economic pain from the coronavirus pandemic.
These include “rent suspensions, payment suspensions, mortgage suspensions, the guaranteed housing … drop the Medicare age to zero, some are arguing for mass enrollment in [the military health benefits program] Tricare — whatever way we can get this done, let’s get it done,” she said.
They’re probably not your solutions, and Ocasio-Cortez hasn’t quite explained what would happen to property owners, banks and utilities if there were mass suspensions of rent and mortgage payments, but we’re still not in offensive territory yet.
AOC’s reasoning is that, with 10 million layoffs, that’s 10 million people who might have lost their health benefits. That number, as estimated by a left-leaning think tank, is actually closer to 3.5 million, but that’s still significant.
“Health care is a human right. You shouldn’t get better health care because you have a higher position in work. Everyone should be able to have dignified access to health care,” she continued.
“This is supposed to be the richest society in the world,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “And I think what this crisis is showing us is that this is only a rich society for a very small amount of people. And it is a brutal, barbarian society for the vast majority of working-class Americans.”
— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) April 4, 2020
Right. Happy, cheery stuff.
First, I’d like to point out that this is such a brutal, barbarian society that Medicaid will end up covering the majority of people who lose their health insurance, according to a rather catastrophic model put together by Health Management Associates.
The number of people who’ll be left uninsured after this is all over is a moving target in this environment, both in terms of how they’ll be insured and how soon they’ll find new employment.
That said, there’s almost certainly another round of relief that could potentially address this. And it won’t matter to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
As I said at the start, this is about brand for her. Ocasio-Cortez’s view of the world is a funhouse mirror set up by a low-rent Howard Zinn, in which our national virtues appear minuscule and our vices are magnified and hideously distorted — and it’s all beamed out over social media whenever she gets a chance.
Staying on brand isn’t unusual for politicians, but AOC has become the master of her message: Any solution that falls short of her policy recommendations is an atrocity.
Unless we’re living in the enlightened world of the democratic socialist, America is like in Hobbes’ state of nature where life for all but the richest is solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short. There’s no alternative.
When it became clear no one was taking the Green New Deal very seriously, she infamously said that “the world is gonna end in 12 years if we don’t address climate change and your biggest issue is how are we gonna pay for it?’” The congresswoman would later claim this was obviously a joke, proof either that conservatives don’t have a sense of humor or that AOC believes Americans to be unusually credulous.
And that’s who she is. America is always terrible if things aren’t set the way Ocasio-Cortez and those who believe like her want it to be.
The great irony of this is that America’s media institutions have made her one of the most prominent politicians in the nation at age 30. She has the ultimate megaphone — not to mention a vote in Congress and a prominent position on two House committees.
She bills herself as a simple bartender from the Bronx who hustled, pounded the pavements, did the organizing and got into Congress. That’s the American Dream. And she uses that position, as America enters its darkest hour since World War II, to let her followers know how brutal and barbaric our society is.
This is what she’s focusing on. Not our charity. Not that our nature as a people is essentially good. Not of the medical professionals braving this horrible disease every day, dealing with circumstances no society — free or centrally planned — could have foreseen.
This is one sentence in limited context. It’s still a damning one, one that allows us to glean Ocasio-Cortez’s view of our national spirit.
Pandemic or not, it seems, the brand must be preserved.
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