Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is the hero millennials deserve. Her cocksure ignorance befits a generation that despises its elders, shouts down its superiors and scoffs at its history, all because they’re confident -- no, certain -- that they are more virtuous than you.
When she decried the Israeli “occupation” of Palestine -- whatever that means -- and was subsequently pressed on the subject in a now-infamous PBS interview, she ceded that she’s “not an expert on geopolitics on this issue.” She has given completely incoherent answers when asked how she is going to pay for the multi-trillion dollar entitlement programs she’s proposing, offering little beyond emotive adjectives and the assurance that she has spoken with a “Nobel Prize economist.”
That’s cold comfort; to modify Bill Buckley’s formula slightly, someone has to win a Nobel Prize in economics. And if Mark Steyn is right when he says that being a multiculturalist absolves you of knowing anything about other cultures, Ms. Ocasio-Cortez’s candidacy seems to suggest that being a socialist absolves you of knowing anything at all.
She’s high on the socialist fever dream that working class white areas in Appalachia are only Republican because they’re being duped by some combination of the Koch brothers, Fox News, and their own racism; if they would rub the sand out of their eyes and realize they were part of the global proletariat, they could viva la revolucion with her and Bernie Sanders.
No matter; she’s definitely charming, and there’s something undeniably endearing about her sincerity. But she is more a millennial than she is socialist -- though she’s certainly that, too -- she is filled with righteous indignation at all of the people at whom it is fashionable to be righteously indignant. She knows that the rich aren’t “paying their fair share,” that the president should be impeached, and that federal immigration enforcement should be immediately disbanded. It has apparently never occurred to her that, as Michael Knowles has pointed out, she needs to know anything more than bumper stickers.
This is more by design than by fault -- modern higher education teaches millennials that history and politics are Manichean exercises, where the virtuous fight to expunge the hateful and the cruel. As long as you know that your opponents are mean, you can be confident that you’re on the right side of History -- and History, or at least its heralds in the academy, are rarely kind to non-moderns and those whom it deems retrograde.
Much more effort, therefore, is spent on spotting who is next to be thrown into History’s ash heap and avoiding that ignominious fate than is spent examining the nuances of public policy and its various tradeoffs. It’s more important to know that your opponents are bad people than it is to explicate the validity of your own views.
Ms. Ocasio-Cortez might soon join the U.S. Congress, which might be getting not only a doctrinaire socialist but its first red-blooded millennial.
God save it if it does.
* John Hirschauer is an award-winning essayist with work at National Review Online, The New York Times, and The Federalist. He is on Twitter @JohnHirschauer.