The 2020 Democratic presidential candidates have served a combined 48 years in the Senate. They’ve served an additional 27 years in various mayoral offices and governor’s mansions across the country. Their total time in the House of Representatives adds another three decades of service. When you factor in likely candidates who have not yet declared or formed exploratory committees, those numbers rise to 108, 73, and 76 years, respectively. Yet who leads this historically broad and experienced presidential field? A 29-year-old bartender just wrapping up her first month in office.
To be sure, New York Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is too young to launch her own bid for the White House. Nevertheless, the freshman congresswoman controls an entire primary pack of candidates too craven and opportunistic to offer any ideas themselves.
What major piece of legislation has Cory Booker, D-N.J., ever sponsored? What precisely constitutes the political legacy of Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y.? The presidential aspirants have played it safe their entire careers. This cautious strategy has served them well – so well that now they hope to follow a first-term radical all the way to the Oval Office.
Last November, Ocasio-Cortez cooked her dinner live on Instagram. Within weeks Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Kamala Harris, D-Calif., Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, and Beto O’Rourke, D-Texas, followed suit and opened their kitchens to the masses. A couple of months ago, a video emerged of Ocasio-Cortez dancing on a rooftop in college. As soon as the mainstream media covered the clip, Harris tweeted her own video shimmying back and forth in a chair. “I’m for *more* dancing in politics,” she beamed. Harris may dance, but Ocasio-Cortez calls the tune.
The nearest to a leader among the presidential aspirants is the 77-year-old socialist Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., to whom progress means nothing more than rehashing the failed economic policies of the 1930s. Insomuch as he successfully pushed the Democratic Party toward the radical left in 2016, Sanders has accomplished more than his competitors. Still, three years later, even Bernie follows AOC’s lead on selling socialism to the people.
Ocasio-Cortez’s thrall over the 2020 race extends beyond style to specific matters of public policy. As she tells it, just a dozen years remain before air pollution extinguishes life on earth. To forestall Armageddon, we must pass the freshman congresswoman’s radical “Green New Deal.” This eco-socialist overhaul would outlaw planes, trains, automobiles, private health insurance, and 88 percent of the American energy industry before demolishing and rebuilding every edifice in the country, sticking the U.S. taxpayer with a $40 trillion tab. Nevertheless, as if in lockstep, Senators Gillibrand, Harris, Sanders, Warren, and Booker all signed up to co-sponsor the plan.
Advocates of Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal insist the plan enjoys wide support among all Americans, from liberal Democrats (92 percent) to conservative Republicans (57 percent). They fail to mention that virtually no one knows anything about it. According to the same Yale Center for Climate Change Communication study they cite, a full 82 percent of respondents knew “nothing at all” about the Green New Deal before answering the survey questions, all of which described the proposal in positive terms.
Presidential campaigns shed intense light on candidates and the policies they propose. One suspects support for the Green New Deal might crack once the American public learns the program will cost them their jobs, cars, doctors, flights, homes, heat, and electricity, among other pleasures.
Then the 2020 candidates will face an unpleasant choice: reverse course, thereby revealing themselves as the empty-suited opportunists that they are, or else persist in following an ignorant 20-something bartender down the path to electoral ruin. Leadership entails difficult decisions. The Democrats who would lead the free world will soon regret not making those decisions sooner.