Posted by: Bruce Allen | January 23, 2019

Imagine Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez as POTUS

© Bruce Allen 

alexandria-ocasio-cortez

Everyone knows her as AOC. Young, beautiful, brash new Congressperson from one of the most heavily Democratic precincts in the country. Self-proclaimed socialist, Medicare-for-all, job guarantees for all, abolish ICE, everything for everybody. An admitted political neophyte, one with so much to learn, but one whose brings an abundance of energy and a heart in the right place. Almost as dynamic, as radical, as young Catholic John F. Kennedy was as a first-term congressman in 1947. But Kennedy came from money and a political family. AOC came from basically nothing.

Here we are, at the depths of the disastrous Trump administration, the government paralyzed, the president knowingly using a million some people as bargaining chips, the Dems viewing The Wall as a symbol of everything for which this country does not stand, contrasting it with the Statue of Liberty and what it says about the American spirit. A mean, dumb president making things worse with the likes of acknowledged racist Stephen Miller whispering in his ear. Mueller getting set to deliver. Junior facing jail, maybe Javanka, too. A government too tied in knots to pay attention to the existential issue facing the planet, that of carbon dioxide and the attendant global warming.

So, the status quo being the status quo, let’s allow ourselves to imagine a future, a 2020 presidential election in which President Mike Pence faces off against, say, a Julio Castro. Pence gets revealed as a stuffed shirt, Castro galvanizes the Dems, and they ride the heavily-female blue wave to take the White House and the Senate, adding to their majority in the House. Taking on global warming, Castro wins re-election in 2024. By this time, Trump Republicans, those preaching fear and violence, face extinction.

[BTW, I expect Pence to become the nominee when Trump resigns. If Trump is not impeached and does not resign but is tarred by Mueller and everything we already know, it will be like the election of 1976, except that it would have still been Nixon at the top of the ticket instead of Ford. Trump’s chances of being re-elected are probably worse than Nixon’s would have been had he somehow toughed it out. And there is no question Pence will pardon Trump for everything federal, leaving the disgraced ex-president to deal with only the various and numerous state felony charges led by the New York AG.]

2028. AOC has moved up from the House to the Senate as Schumer retires. She wins the presidency. By then, she is well-informed, well-spoken, still bright, still beautiful and energetic. Still a socialist, a campaign finance reformer, beholden to no one and no group. Leading a country in which the fight against global warming is real and people have started to feel the power of progressive politics. Improved health care. Improved living standards for the bottom 20%. Improved schools. The Green Revolution, complete with jobs as well as a mission.

It is easy to imagine that AOC would build a Cabinet and staff top positions with smart, experienced people eager to “put America back on track, making it work for the have-nots.” Countries, after all, are not judged on their ability to coddle their billionaires. They’re judged by how well they take care of the bottom 20% of their citizens and residents. It is easy to imagine how an economy and the society behind it, having undergone eight years of progressive politics, could be primed to allow the pace of reform, change, and long-term thinking to accelerate. A 40-year old former street organizer and bartender, someone who has spent considerable time worrying about paying bills, would be a breath of fresh air in The Oval Office. We would, I believe, find ourselves modeling the progressive systems of Scandinavian countries in our approaches to health care, education, guns, income distribution, and climate change.

As our world, focused on economic growth with billions of people scraping a living out of the soil or the roadside and America focused on the drama and human costs of the Trumpian landscape, stumbles into the CO2 apocalypse, one must remain hopeful. The pendulum that delivered us Donald Trump, felon, will likely deliver an AOC, or someone like her, to take us equally far in the other direction, fighting the tide of a century of plutocracy in which the American military is regarded by everyday people as an invading force in a solid majority of countries in which it operates. This will be a country far less dependent upon fossil fuels than it is today. This could be a country that re-assumes a position of leadership on the global stage, a position so eagerly and clumsily pissed away by Himself.

Those of us concerned about Trump and his issues and anticipating his political demise are looking for some new faces to assume leadership positions in the Democratic party. Sorry Joe, sorry Bernie, sorry Elizabeth, but you are not happening in 2019. You may back into a nomination in 2020 but your politics are seen as too old school, too old boy/girl, too 20th century. The Democratic party needs some young faces willing to challenge the status quo, willing to elevate the level of political discourse to something approaching its previous level. Liberalism and bi-partisanship need to be removed from the list of punishable accusations.

The only way to fix American government involves a progressive tax structure which will be thoroughly unpopular with the top 10% of wage earners and asset- holders and will make the remaining 90% of the country work better. To pretend that such a structure is politically unfeasible is folly. As Dave Barry so eloquently pointed out years ago, the rich people of this country use their Social Security checks to purchase sunbonnets for their racehorses. This is nuts.

Thanks in no small part to Donald Trump himself, the majority of young voters—too early to say for sure about the boys at Covington Catholic—are turning away from the Republican party, becoming independents and Democrats. These people, in another ten years, would be happy to vote for an AOC for president, a vibrant Hispanic woman who was a bartender not so long ago. Rather than complain about her somewhat obvious ambition, I applaud her courage and her approach to government. The Democratic Party needs more like her.

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