Nice Time: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Lifts Up Young Voters Feeling Bummed About Bernie

Joe Biden continued his march toward the Democratic nomination Tuesday, which is great news for John McCain Biden but less exciting news for Bernie Sanders. I can appreciate the urge to rejoice when a candidate you don't like crashes and burns, but we shouldn't forget that every Democratic primary candidate, except for Tulsi Gabbard, had supporters who were passionate about their campaign and were devastated to see it end. Hell, even Gabbard inspired folks to donate hard-earned rubles to her ingrown toenail campaign, and they're likely drowning their tears in Stolichnaya right now.

Tuesday night, on her Instagram live chat, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez shared some nice words of comfort for Sanders supporters, many of whom are young and perhaps first-time voters. Ocasio-Cortez wanted to lift their spirits and keep their eyes on the larger prize of removing Donald Trump from office. She took the time to do this while some people on Twitter were "joking" about conducting a "wellness check" on her, Rashia Tlaib, Ilhan Omar, and other prominent Sanders supporters. Look, I get that a lot of "Bernie Bros" showed their asses online and in public, but to borrow from Nietzsche, if you gaze too long into the Twitter abyss, the abyss gazes back into you with suicide "humor."

AOC: There's no sugar coating it. Tonight's a tough night. Tonight's a tough night for the movement, overall. Well, you know ... yes and no. You know, obviously tonight's a tough night electorally. If you are looking a little bit deeper beyond the polls, in terms of what this means for the movement at large, I think there's a lot of information that we have here.

Ocasio-Cortez explained that older voters are more reliable voters (even during a global pandemic where they are the most vulnerable), and they overwhelmingly support Biden. There's no conspiracy there. It's just numbers and math, which if you're a Fox News viewer, you probably think is a conspiracy. But liberals can do better. Ocasio-Cortez graciously congratulated Biden on his victories (and there were so many) last night.

AOC: I don't think it's appropriate ... to dismiss older voters. We don't blame voters. We don't dismiss voters, and we don't think of people as disposable. No matter how old you are. No matter what state you live in. Your vote matters.

This was good to hear, after some unnamed Michael Moores dismissed the demos and states that powered Biden's comeback from the electoral grave.

AOC: We should fight for every community and every vote ... Electoral politics can be movement-based, but movements aren't necessarily electoral in nature, either. Something that we know is that young people ... our politics have overwhelmingly been shifted by movements. Whether it's Black Lives Matter, whether it's the movement for Medicare for All ... and while people say, "OK, well, it fell short tonight. Young people don't vote. It doesn't matter," as I'm seeing here. It does matter for the time to come.

She argued that every generation "gets better at voting over time," but that a generation's politics can become politically defined for some time. She believes that there's a streak of progressivism in her generation that's not going away. I'd agree that many of the positions progressives hold today will seem more mainstream in a couple decades. Sometimes it's not just that ideas get better over time, like dry-aged beef. It's just that the folks who share those views have gotten older, so people are more inclined to listen. And it doesn't hurt that they're now voting in larger numbers. The exit polls from states Biden has won show surprising support for Medicare for All, which Democratic leaders claim was electoral poison that would kill candidates down ballot. Voters might've preferred Biden to Sanders for any number of reasons, but that doesn't mean they rejected the entirety of Sanders's platform. Sanders and Warren might've lost but they've advanced the conversation beyond what other, safer candidates believed was possible.

AOC: The vast majority of Democratic voters believe in Medicare for All, believe in health care as a right. They believe in decisive action on climate change. I think that in the long term, what is important is ... we're winning over people on the most substantive reasons for voting ... If you are fighting for a progressive future, if you are fighting for everyday people, if you are fighting for working people, there's a lot of folks out there that want you to be demoralized. There's a lot of folks out there that don't want you to vote. If you're feeling sad, if you're feeling down, let yourself feel that way, but the number one rule in politics -- in my opinion -- and in organizing in general is to never, ever, ever, ever let your heart turn black. You can't do it. We cannot afford to do that. There are too many people's hearts that are on the line.

Ocasio-Cortez has become a polarizing figure, even among Democrats. This is arguably because she criticizes the party establishment and has even supported primarying incumbent Democrats. That's apparently something Ocasio-Cortez personally invented and inflicted on society, like avocado toast. I like Ocasio-Cortez not just in spite of her unconventional opinions and actions but because of them. Well-behaved women seldom make history, and Ocasio-Cortez has a lot of history making in her future.

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Stephen Robinson

Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. Once, he wrote a novel called “Mahogany Slade,” which you should read or at least buy. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."


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