by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
On the second night of the truncated Democratic National Convention, Joe Biden granted Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez a prime speaking slot. Like most speeches in this virtual event, it was just a few minutes, but considering that the consolidated schedule omitted many prominent party leaders, the appearance was quite a coup for a freshman congresswoman who is deeply unpopular nationally. It signals that she’s likely to remain influential if Biden wins the presidency.
Immediately after she was elected in a safe Democratic district in 2018, Ocasio-Cortez became one of the most famous and polarizing figures in politics. She is prone to bombastic and ignorant statements — for example, infamously likening border detention centers to the Holocaust. …
… Despite her embarrassing stumbles, the New York congresswoman is a hot commodity in today’s politics. Whether people love her or hate her, they have an opinion about her. Her audience of young leftists believes her whether or not she is making stuff up. She’s achieved that level of fame that allows a public figure to be known merely by initials. There was FDR and JFK, and now, there is AOC.
The ability to dominate the news with a simple tweet helped vault Donald Trump to the presidency. It’s also why AOC spoke for Democrats to a prime-time national audience, … and it’s the reason she’ll put her stamp on a Biden administration.
Her influence is already being felt on the ticket. The ridiculous “Green New Deal” that she helped make famous, which seeks to replace 83% of the nation’s energy sources within a decade and could cost over $90 trillion, was co-sponsored in the Senate by Biden’s running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris. Biden initially criticized the proposal, but after winning the primary, he appointed AOC to co-chair his climate task force. Thus, his current climate plan is very close to AOC’s blueprint.