Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) has managed to inject herself into the national conversation by enchanting progressives and enraging conservatives with her outlandish proposals. Many on the right dismiss her has ignorant, arrogant, and stupid, but underestimating her would be a grave mistake. She may not be very knowledgeable, but she is intelligent and fiercely persuasive – to her progressive base.
Dilbert-creator Scott Adams, who is a trained hypnotist, was among the first people to recognize her talent, and likened her skills to the master persuader himself, President Donald Trump. The similarities are striking: Both use effective techniques such as hyperbole to expand the Overton window, and both polarize and thereby capture the attention on all sides of the political spectrum. She might well be a left-wing Trump.
But what about her blatant ignorance? How can she be smart when she believes crazy stuff like the idea that we are all going to die from global warming unless we stop flying airplanes? In the realm of politics, Adams points out, facts don’t matter. Political pundit Ben Shapiro likes to say that “facts don’t care about your feelings” when he replies to oversensitive social justice warriors. This is true, but Ocasio-Cortez embodies an even deeper truth: Feelings don’t care about your facts.
A Political Entrepreneur
Although she has a childlike level of understanding of science and economics, she has built confidence in her persuasion techniques empirically from talking to fellow millennials. Thanks to the deterioration of the education system in the last half-century, the people who are growing up today are so stunningly misinformed and stuffed with progressive propaganda that an enormous opportunity has arisen for those who are sufficiently bold: You can tell them things that are virtually void of facts, and they will still respond positively as long as it conforms with the narrative that generates a sense of moral superiority.
The old guard Democrats never realized this. They wanted to push leftward, but always believed that they had to sneak socialism and leftism in the backdoor through cloaked language and misdirection. Ocasio-Cortez was the first major talent on the left to realize that progressives responded well to “bold messages.”
All too many conservatives fall into the trap of either denigrating her as stupid or getting lost in the weeds of details concerning factual errors. None of that matters – if progressives believe the people objecting to her are evil racists, sexists, and bigots who hate polar bears, they will not care about anything you have to say.
Ocasio-Cortez is a political entrepreneur selling a narrative and a feeling of moral supremacy. The tale is not true, but there is a major market for it, and she is a shrewd seller. Her sales pitch can only be counteracted by a better story.
Trump Still Winning
For now, Trump is doing a better job than the young democratic socialist. Despite a 90% negative coverage by the fake news media, his approval rating is higher than that of President Barack Obama at the same stage in his presidency. He achieves this in part by skillfully manipulating the media into behaving so irrationally and absurdly that it pulls people out of the movie that the left wants them to live in.
However, Trump will not be president forever, and if conservatives want to stem the tide of socialism and Green New Deals, they should learn the art of telling a good story that is not only true, but also creates the right feeling. Remember: Feelings don’t care about your facts.