AOC for President? I would argue Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez won’t be ready to launch a viable presidential campaign by 2024.
She’s still a young junior Rep, with just three years in elected office under her belt. Still, AOC’s national prominence, celebrity status, and (unearned) personification of the progressive movement has her name circulating amongst short lists of potential 2024 candidates if Biden does not run or if some on the left challenged him.
Accordingly, many are wondering what an AOC presidential bid might look like. Here is my effort to tackle that issue:
Let’s take a look:
AOC For President?
First, a disclaimer. AOC has a tendency to say one thing – invariably fashionable in the progressive sense, like ‘I want to #DefundthePolice,’ or ‘I want to address income inequality,’ or ‘I’m not going to endorse Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House’ – right before she does something else entirely, like supporting voting to increase the Capitol Police’s budget, voting in favor of the CARES Act and its upward-moving wealth scheme, and voting for Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House.
The dissonance between what AOC says, how she represents herself, and what she actually does, makes it difficult to assess her future intentions.
You’ve gotta see through the Tweets and the tears and the chain-link fence photo shoots to discern what AOC is actually about.
Projecting the contours of a hypothetical AOC presidential bid requires a bit of guesswork. Here’s a guess.
With respect to the most practical dimensions of a presidential campaign, fundraising, AOC may emulate the Bernie Sanders progressive-approved formula of soliciting small-dollar donations from myriad individual constituents.
Sanders was proud to eschew big dollar donations during his 2016 and 2020 insurgency campaigns, instead collecting twenty bucks here and thirty bucks there, in volume.
AOC, like Sanders, has denounced the influence of big money and hidden donors in politics; if AOC were running to the left of the Establishment candidates, maintaining her left-wing appeal would require that she too eschew big dollar donations.
But AOC is not Bernie Sanders.
Sanders has been an outsider for decades, relentlessly chastising the status quo. AOC, in just three years as a congresswoman, has already demonstrated her willingness to conform to Establishment wishes.
So, I have trouble envisioning AOC turning down big money, or Establishment support, were the powers that be to select and groom her as a “progressive,” “diverse” trojan horse for status-quo values.
AOC: How She Would Run
Regardless of who’s funding an AOC campaign, regardless of whether she sells-out wholesale or not, AOC will run a campaign built strongly upon her “identity.”
In the modern era, with woke identity politics dominating left-wing discourse, AOC’s “BIPOC” and female status is like high-value currency.
AOC, who grew up in Scarsdale, would be a highly-coveted BIPOC candidate. And as a woman, AOC would be marketed as capable of pushing through the last glass ceiling, the one Hillary Clinton put about 63 million cracks in. The problem with the identity-based approach is multi-faceted.
One, identity politics are, in their very nature, divisive. Winning national elections requires broad coalition building amongst various identity-groups on the premise of shared hopes and dreams. Identity politics run counter to this practical and principled ideal.
Two, a large portion of the country, including whites (who still make up the majority), and increasingly non-whites, find identity politics repulsive. Leaning into identity politics promises to bolster the GOP’s cause in the general election.
So again, identity politics are just not helpful with respect to getting elected. And relatedly, identity politics fuel white resentment, while discouraging minority constituents who are often not woke at all.
For example, Democrats are shocked that Hispanics and other minorities are migrating to the GOP. But, we say LatinX, you can almost hear the Dems thinking. But, the GOP’s immigration policies are racist!
Three, increasingly, constituents are growing wise to the use of identity politics as a progressive-appearing smokescreen to obscure status-quo upholding politics; working class voters are wisening up to the fact that Democrats govern for the professional-managerial class – and that the professional-managerial classe’s embrace of identity politics has more to do with sidestepping economic reform than promoting “diversity.”
Four, AOC swore she wouldn’t lean into identity politics.
Obviously, she has made identity politics central to her political identity. It’s another lie – and another reason why gauging an AOC presidential campaign is difficult.
More: Is Donald Trump Going Crazy?
Harrison Kass is the Senior Editor at 19FortyFive. An attorney, pilot, guitarist, and minor pro hockey player, he joined the US Air Force as a Pilot Trainee but was medically discharged. Harrison holds a BA from Lake Forest College, a JD from the University of Oregon, and an MA from New York University. He lives in Oregon and listens to Dokken. Follow him on Twitter @harrison_kass.