AOC: Shadow Speaker

To get a sense of how powerful freshman Congressmember (her preferred title) Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is, just look at her effect on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Specifically, look at the difference between Pelosi’s inaugural speech in 2019 and her speech in 2007, when the California Democrat was elected the first female speaker in U.S. history.

Back then, Pelosi offered several tributes to American soldiers fighting in Iraq. We must honor our military, veterans and first responders as “the heroes that they are,” she graciously offered. That sentiment was met with a rousing standing ovation from both sides of the aisle. The question of climate change—then gaining attention as a key issue thanks to Al Gore’s documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth,” released the year before—merited only one sentence.

But Pelosi’s message on Thursday was almost directly and proportionately reversed. After an obligatory shout-out to our troops and their families, Pelosi urged her colleagues to face “the existential crisis of our time, the climate crisis, a crisis manifested in natural disasters of epic proportions.” (A claim that is patently false, but unlikely to be scrutinized by the media’s biased fact-checkers.)

A new select committee on climate change would be convened, Pelosi announced, to “put an end to the inaction and denial of science that threaten the planet and the future.” The cure for the working class would be the creation of green jobs from sea to shining sea, she promised. Pelosi’s Democratic subjects rose to applaud her.

The military earned one other brief mention at the end of her speech, and the existential threat of Islamic terrorism officially was replaced by carbon dioxide emissions.

Even though the wealthy, septuagenarian from San Francisco now wields the speaker’s gavel, it is the bartender-turned-representative Millennial from the Bronx who possesses the power. Ocasio-Cortez essentially is this Congress’s shadow speaker, agitating the Democrats’ policy agenda and creating her own caucus of diverse, radical soulmates. Further, she is the poster girl for a left-lurching Democratic Party. Democrats now view socialism more positively than capitalism, according to an August 2018 poll and also want to abolish the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Service as they impeach the president.

Ocasio-Cortez is earning the media attention and adoration other politicians can only dream of having. Hours before she was sworn-in on January 3, a cute video surfaced of Ocasio-Cortez dancing with friends in college—putting an “I’m just like you” face on her dangerous left-wing ideology. Her Twitter posts go viral immediately; other politicians now are trying to emulate her unpretentious approach on social media, such as when she whips up a quick dinner while talking about political issues to her 1.3 million Instagram followers. (In a cringe-worthy Instagram video this week, Senator Elizabeth Warren popped open a beer in her kitchen and chatted about her newly-formed presidential exploratory committee. Let’s just say it didn’t go over as her handlers had hoped.)

But Ocasio-Cortez is more than a pretty face with a devoted social media following. Armed with a hubris born out of inexperience and a leftist worldview born out of economic and historical ignorance, Ocasio-Cortez’s real charm is that she is unafraid to confront the old-guard leadership on Capitol Hill.

Her raison d’etre is human-caused climate change, the refuge of international socialists for the past three decades. Every means to dramatically alter the way people live—the mendacious objective of the Left—can be masqueraded as a noble desire to save the planet. Climate change largely was ignored by both Republican and Democratic candidates in 2016 and 2018; in fact, most climate-mitigation ballot proposals were defeated across the country in November. But thanks to Ocasio-Cortez’s aggressive activism—and hundreds of millions in political contributions flowing from billionaire environmentalists—it’s likely that issue will take center stage in the 2020 Democratic presidential primaries.

When Ocasio-Cortez and her fellow climate crusaders stormed Pelosi’s office shortly after Democrats recaptured the House, the incoming speaker quickly capitulated to their demands. She commended their activism and declared her support for a long-dormant committee on climate change. (Florida Rep. Kathy Castor, not Ocasio-Cortez, will lead the committee.) Ocasio-Cortez subsequently called Pelosi’s overture, “weak.”

Ocasio-Cortez then unveiled a “Green New Deal” that will present the greatest challenge for Pelosi as her party desperately tries to restore support from its vanishing working-class base. The job-killing demands for guaranteed employment and a living wage —certain to reverse the economic gains made by the Trump Administration over the past two years—are the least disconcerting measures contained in Cortez’s manifesto.

Arguing that a $1 trillion investment over 10 years is insufficient to combat climate change, Ocasio-Cortez’s ultimatum is to “mitigate deeply entrenched racial, regional and gender-based inequalities in income and wealth (including, without limitation, ensuring that federal and other investment will be equitably distributed to historically impoverished, low income, deindustrialized or other marginalized communities in such a way that builds wealth and ownership at the community level) . . . and include additional measures such as basic income programs [and] universal health care programs.”

In an interview with Anderson Cooper airing Sunday night on “60 Minutes,” Ocasio-Cortez outlandishly claims that America can eliminate fossil fuel use and function on 100 percent renewable energy sources by 2030, a fantasy rejected even by the most ardent climate activists. (Stanford professor Mark Jacobson was harshly rebuked in 2017 by several prominent scientists for his shady scientific paper that concluded the United States could be 100 percent renewable by mid-century—a full 20 years after Ocasio-Cortez’s goal.)

Embracing herself as a radical, Ocasio-Cortez tells Cooper that her green crusade will require “a lot of rapid change that we don’t even conceive as possible.” She further explains the need for a federal tax rate of 70 percent on the “tippy tops” of earners.

Her fabulism could be written off if Cortez wasn’t so popular and persuasive. She has a hardcore following in Congress; 40 House Democrats have signed on to her New Green Deal, including Reps. Joe Kennedy (D-Mass.) and John Lewis (D-Ga.).

Newcomers Ilhan Omar, an anti-Semite now representing Minnesota, and Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib, who was joined by activist and anti-Semite Linda Sansour at her swearing-in on Thursday, are Cortez adherents. (Tlaib sparked controversy Thursday night when video leaked of her screaming, “We are going to go in and impeach the motherf—er.”) Omar tweeted a photo of the women with the comment, “They ain’t ready.”

There’s no question Ocasio-Cortez is the star of the Democratic Party right now. Given her cult-like following in Washington, the national press, and on social media, Cortez will be highly sought-after as a campaigner for Democratic presidential hopefuls. She also will be a prolific fundraiser, the fastest way she can curry favor in politics while strong-arming lawmakers and candidates to sign on to her radical agenda.

Nancy Pelosi might have the title, but there is little question who has the might and the message. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is the shadow speaker who will refuse to stay in the shadows. This might make for the most interesting political sideshow of 2019.

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Photo Credit: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

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