Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Helen Roy

In his monologues, Tucker Carlson often makes the point that one can know what the Democratic Party is up to simply by inverting their stated goals. The party of “anti-racism” advocates racial segregation in schools. The party of the “underprivileged” advocates the interests of technofascists over workers. The party of feminists erases the word “mother” from the Congressional rules. And so on.

In most cases, personally and politically, the more dramatic the performance of virtue, the stronger the vice. No figure in the party captures this deep ambivalence–to be the poison while presenting as the cure–more readily than Alexandria Ocasio Cortez. Rather than being distracted by her elaborate and compelling performance, conservatives can instead abide by the Tuckerism stated earlier: her strongest symbolic resonance is where the true danger lies.

Because of her identity-defining stance as advocate and voice of the young, Cortez poses a specific threat to the American family. 

Through AOC, the Democrats legitimate their claim to being the party of the youth. And while it’s true enough that young people tend to vote left, just like black people tend to vote left, it’s also true that the official and unofficial policies Democrats offer to young (and black) people are some of the most efficient ways to explode their core relationships, bankrupting themselves personally and financially through self-imposed alienation and depravity. When Claudia Conway took to Twitter to expose intimate details of her parents’ faltering marriage, she tweeted at Cortez “adopt me.” Cortez tacitly approved of the message by subsequently following the girl. Of course, the response of any healthy adult to such a tragic public unfolding of personal strife would be total disengagement. But she who mimes advocacy is nothing more than an agitator in reality: an underminer of youthful optimism and of the foundations upon which young people would otherwise build their lives. 

 Against the backdrop of largely geriatric peers, she presents herself convincingly. By using youthful platforms and youthful language and simply being relatively youthful, AOC fashions herself into a lightning rod. She appears and speaks on Instagram stories like that one professor who never wore a tie and made sure you knew it was okay to cuss in class. It’s easy to confuse familiarity for intimacy on social media; young people do it as a matter of course. Youthful social anxiety is easily converted into political capital.

The point in the Conway situation, and when Cortez tweets about trans kids or cops the latest university newspeak in her broadcasts, is to send a particular message to millions of young people–many of whom went on to doxx their parents for insufficient support of Black Lives Matter during the Summer of Love following the death of George Floyd. That message remains clear: political cancellation is a legitimate vehicle for laundering personal resentment against your family. But of course, cancellation isn’t the correct term. AOC calls it “being challenged, held accountable, or unliked.” So it’s fine. Parents must be made to understand.

This, in fact, is the true location of familial dissolution in our country–not the border, where Cortez once hired photographers to capture her crying about migrant caravans, but the home. 

At the core of any highly effective lie, some kernel of truth must exist to keep it afloat. Essentially, AOC capitalizes on a very particular and precarious faultline in our culture: intergenerational illiteracy and resentment. She would have a harder time fashioning herself as the voice of the youth if young people truly felt heard, seen, acknowledged, and above all, loved by the older people in their lives. The reasons for the gap in communication are varied. Mass parental acceptance of and deference to youth culture as a standalone, self-sustaining movement, often defining itself in opposition to tradition simply for the sake of contrarianism, is chief among them. 

How do parents successfully place themselves between their children and the kind of leader that would have them joining up with Mao’s Red Guard? Love them. Spend time with them. Hear their concerns. Limit their time spent being educated (in person or online) by people who are not you, and especially people who are diametrically ideologically opposed to your authority as a parent. Revivification of politics begins at the beginning. It’s a good place to start.

  • Helen Roy

    Helen Roy is a contributing editor at The American Mind, where she writes a biweekly column spanning various topics related to feminism and the family. She hosts Girlboss, interrupted, a podcast about womanhood, virtue, and happiness in the modern world.

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