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Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is the Latest Incarnation of Political Grifterism

September 11, 2019 16 comments

Ok.. the title is a bit clickbaity, however the main point it makes still holds. But before we go any further, let me be clear about a couple of things. Firstly.. this post is not a criticism of all policies (allegedly) supported and promoted by AOC. In fact, many of them such as establishing universal single-payer healthcare or taxpayer funded post-secondary education are perfectly reasonable . Similarly, raising the minimum wage to 15 $/hr, building new multi-family housing units in cities, spending money on building better public transport systems and infrastructure rather than expensive and unwinnable “wars” on the other side of globe are reasonable and populist ideas. Sure.. I don’t care about the “New Green Deal”, “gun control” and other similar bullshit. But my point is, the policies she supports are not what make her a grifter.

Secondly, I am not implying that she is somehow a bigger or more pernicious grifter than people such Reagan40, Bush41, Clinton42, Bush43, Obama44 or Trump45. One could easily make the argument that vast majority of people who have been elected to office in every single democracy are grifters. Nor am I suggesting that she is any more corrupt and power-hungry than the generic establishment politician of your choice who has been elected to office. The point I am trying to make is as follows: AOC is simply the latest incarnation of political grifterism in american political system. Also, I do not have an issue with elected politicians being grifters. My real problem with her brand of grifterism is that it is will likely damage residual voter trust in system far more than the outright corny bullshit spouted by people such Reagan, Bush or Clinton.

In other words, her grifterism is more problematic than that displayed by your run-of-mill politico because too many people still see her as a genuine person. In contrast, only the brain-damaged or senile idiots ever believed a single word that came out of the mouths of scammers such as Reagan, Bush or Clinton. To understand what I am talking about, let us go back about a decade or so to a then rising presidential candidate known as Barack Obama. As some of you might remember, I wrote a short series about why the Obama presidency was a disaster for democrats. The very brief version is as follows: Obama pioneered a new form of political grifterism which combined great-sounding but completely empty electoral promises, appeals to identity politics, and the media-abetted scam of being somehow relatable.

While that grift got him elected, once with a commanding mandate and subsequently a barely adequate one, it destroyed most of the residual voter trust in system. As you might remember, Obama44 came after Bush43, a person whose administration was infamous for losing a massive amount of voter trust in aftermath of failed occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq, mismanagement after hurricane Katrina, Housing Bubble of 2003-2007 and Global Financial Crisis of 2008. Which is another way of saying that public confidence in the system was already on a steep downturn when Obama came into the picture. While Obama ran an entire campaign centered around “Hope and Change”, he did not deliver on those promises- at least as far as the 99% were concerned.

His administration largely doubled and tripled down on the neoliberal policies of previous ones and immiserated the majority while rescuing the 1% and to some extent, another 9% aka the flunkies of the 1%. It is no accident that the opioid epidemic began under Obama. While his 2008 campaign was about “hope and change”, his policies led to the destruction of most residual hope left in USA. It is not an exaggeration to suggest that the anger and betray felt by most people during two terms of Obama led to a ridiculous orange troll beating HRC in the 2016 presidential election. Just as deliberate failures by Bush43 administration led to election of Obama44 in 2008, engineered failures of his administration led to the election of Trump45 in 2016.

So where does AOC fit in this picture? Well.. her grifterism is distinct from the one pioneered by Obama- though many of you might not be be able to tell them apart. Obama’s grifterism was formulated in the last days of neoliberalism before its image was permanently damaged in mind of voters. It relied heavily on being credentialed, appearing “cool”, talking like a CEO, projecting predictability and acceptance by rich white people. It also relied on identity politics and careful triangulation to make sure that he appeared promising to black voters while doing nothing to actually improve their lot. AOC’s grifterism is based on projecting fake “authenticity”, which is not surprising since we live in the era of YouTube, FakeBook, Twitter and Podcasts. It is also based on her being a woman, which is different from Obama’s identity politics of race.

Interestingly, AOC uses her Hispanic ancestry as a way to make herself look authentic than for race-based appeals. She has certainly learnt from the ultimate failure of Obama’s grifterism. But why do I keep saying that she is a grifter, just like almost every other politician? It has to with an observation about what she supports and what she does not. See.. the very few non-grifters in politics distinguish themselves by taking public positions which subject them a lot of ridicule by establishment. In other words, they frequently stand up for ideas that are unpopular with those in power. In contrast to that, AOC stands up for ideas that are either already popular (healthcare, education, housing) or are supported by a large part of the establishment (“gun control”).

The few somewhat unpopular ideas she stands for (new green deal” etc) are the ones that she knows have no real chance of becoming law. Compare her milquetoast positions to somebody like Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib who are actually willing to confront the establishment on some pretty controversial stuff such as the special relationship to Israel. Whether you agree with their positions or not, it had to deny that they actually stand for something. It is also not surprising that the dying MSM chooses to promote AOC in a far more positive light than somebody like Omar or Tlaib. And this brings us to why AOC’s grifterism is problematic.

See.. its main audience is made up of those who have not comprehended the enormity of Obama’s letdown or are naive enough to believe that “it will be different”. The letdown this time around is going to be as bad as that after Obama got reelected in 2012 and will destroy most residual trust in system. But at least somebody will get rich and powerful till that occurs.

What do you think? Comments?