There’s a common trope in “rescue” reality shows, such as Kitchen Nightmares and the like, where the struggling business owner knows something is wrong, but he or she can’t quite put a finger on it. They’ve been working in this same spot for 20 years and no one seems to be coming in anymore. So they reach out for help. The host comes in and shows them a list of things they’re doing wrong. Here’s what diners are actually interested in now, the interloper with all the TV camera following them explains: bok choy sliders with sriracha mayo and $19 pickles or whatever. He might even yell at them, which they aren’t used to because, after all, they’re the boss.
I don’t know, the owner says. We’ve stayed in business this long… that just isn’t How Things Are Done. Eventually they relent reluctantly and then, when the cameras leave, they change the name right back to Dirty Jeff’s Clam Gully two weeks later, content to glide along on their decades of mediocrity because it’s more comfortable that way. And they often do go on, inspiring no one, never full but never quite empty, existing.
No reason to bring that up other than I just read this stunning piece from POLITICO this morning about how Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez is being rude to Democrats. Twenty lawmakers and aides—many of whom are on the record, which you at least have to give them a modicum of credit for—think Cortez should slow down and get to know which cliques hang out by which lockers in the school hallway before she starts agitating for change or pointing fingers at ass-dragging colleagues.
“I’m sure Ms. Cortez means well, but there’s almost an outstanding rule: Don’t attack your own people,” Rep. Emanuel Cleaver of Missouri said. “We just don’t need sniping in our Democratic Caucus.”
It’s not the first time Cleaver was unimpressed by a galvanizing young Democrat who looked to upend the status quo, having supported Hillary Clinton until the bitter end in the 2008 primaries.
Others on the Hill are rankled that there’s a movement to place Ocasio-Cortez on to committees that they think she hasn’t earned yet. “Slow down and learn what the job is sweetie” is something we’ve quickly become accustomed to from the right when it comes to the burgeoning progressive leader, but it’s really a new level of petty to see it coming from the Democrats as well.
“She needs to decide: Does she want to be an effective legislator or just continue being a Twitter star?” said one House Democrat “who’s in lockstep with Ocasio-Cortez’s ideology,” the piece goes on; although one has to think if the unnamed source really was in lockstep with her ideology, he or she might appreciate the way Ocasio-Cortez seems to actually be generating enthusiasm for it? I don’t know… I’ve never worked on the Hill; I don’t know How Things Are Done.
Also, as an aside, when has being a Twitter star even translated into significant political power? Any recent examples of that come to mind? And for that matter, any examples in recent congressional history of seemingly-radical lawmakers outside of the party’s mainstream pulling them further right? I don’t know, I just don’t know anything.
“There’s a difference between being an activist and a lawmaker in Congress,” the anonymous and definitely very progressive Democrat went on, which is true, activists actually inspire people.
Others in the House are upset that Ocasio-Cortez has suggested moderate Democrats need to be primaried going forward, a prospect nearly everyone on the left (excluding radical moderate Democrats, Twitter-addled #stillwithher wine moms and Beltway think tank grifters) find self-evident.
“‘It’s one thing’ for outside activists to go after Democratic incumbents, [Rep. Gregory Meeks of New York] said. ‘It’s another thing when you’re in this institution and you’ve got to work to get things done,'” POLITICO reported.
At question here—and at the center of the friction between Ocasio-Cortez and others in the new class of lawmakers and the party’s rank and file—is exactly what the definition of getting things done is. Is it treating the impending climate disaster as something that needs to be addressed yesterday or something triangulated for the next 20 years until the focus groups have to be held on floating garbage barges off the coast of Nebraska? Is it treating every person who dies today and tomorrow due to lack of health care on par with a massive preventable pandemic like any other that offends the conscience of any decent human being, or is it working across the aisle to draft legislation that everyone all the way from the insurance companies to the lobbyists for the insurance companies can agree on?
Wait, wait, I just thought of another analogy for the Democrats. A quote my therapist tells me sometimes is something like “We change our behavior when the pain of staying the same becomes greater than the pain of changing.”
Establishment Democrats, addicted to their fancy jobs, are now, like any other addict, petrified about the prospect of having to change the way they do things. Yes, getting sober may vastly improve an addict’s life, but they’re often scared about the unknown. So they tell their friends, yes, yes, I’m going to change. And when those friends press them on it, they lash out. What about you, they say. What do you know about anything? I’m fine. I’m doing fine. Leave me alone and mind your own business first.