In Defense of Ocasio-Cortez

"Hey girl, let's have a one-hour conversation on trade policy, deficits, and fiscal responsibility in Nordic nations, baby!" ~ Ben Shapiro, mocking catcalling in Queens

Ah, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. The Democratic darling. The rising-star socialist. The Puerto Rican princess. The pretty little idiot bumbling her way through politics like the Sarah Palin of the left. Everyone’s new favorite media sensation from Queens. The seeming center of our midterm universe, whom we all love to hate on.

In short order, we’ve watched her ascend, like Icarus, only to have her wings swiftly melt on the sunshine of gaffe after gaffe, fact-check after fact-check. Some believe she'll quickly fade from our attention like a passing fad come November; yet much like our current Negotiator-in-Chief, rather than crash into the ocean, she seems to be miraculously uplifted time and again, fluttering around chaotically like an awkward baby bird still learning how to fly on its own in a world where facts don't matter.

One could almost be forgiven for thinking she was born for this role.

There are times when it can be painful to watch; and yet there’s also something deeply endearing about her, like a small child trying to bake a cake for Mother’s Day and wrecking the whole kitchen in the process. Surprise, mom, you inherited a mess; and yet, bless her heart, you can’t be too mad at her for it because she’s still young and inexperienced. Her intentions are good, at least. She certainly means well, even if she clearly lacks the particular verbal dexterity to execute.

She'll get there eventually. Mark my words.

Keep in mind, she's only twenty-eight years old and is killing it her first time out against people with far more experience. Kennedy was our youngest President ever, just barely legal for the job, and he's risen to the top ten in short order. Some say Nixon won on radio and Kennedy won on TV, cuz contrast is important and we're hardwired for visual persuasion and often associate the beautiful with the good.

Much like Kennedy, Red Cortez has youth and energy and attractiveness and charm, but unlike Kennedy, she doesn't have the advantage of juxtaposition to an uglier opponent as the result of emergent technology. At least, not in the same way.

It may surprise you to learn that, despite being a libertarian, I actually really like Ocasio-Cortez a lot as a person in spite of her political agenda. So far, I can’t really find anything to disagree with as far as anything she’s said regarding social issues apart from abolishing ICE (more on that later). It’s mostly economic stuff I fault her on, the biggest one being Medicare for all.

As far as policy, I generally side with Ben Shapiro over her.

That said, I myself bump heads with Ben all the time over stuff like Israel-Palestine, cringing every time his blinders come on and he goes full Zionist acting like Israel never did anything wrong and never would. In that regard, I tend to side more with Abby Martin.

And yet, he remains my spirit animal. 38D

The reason I thoroughly admire Red Cortez in spite of her politics is because, number one, I’m not a partisan hack; and number two, I can recognize talent when I see it, most recently that of the persuasion variety. I first became aware of her obvious skills as a Master Persuader in the making upon seeing her campaign commercial. Having been trained in the dark arts of persuasion, I picked up on the technique immediately. She had all the hallmarks of contrast, visual imagery, high ground maneuvering, and so forth, telling the allegorical tale of a triumphant working-class heroine overcoming adversity to achieve greatness and then using that position and power to help others.

With persuasion chops like that, even a no-name underdog like her could win handily. No wonder she was then able to oust her incumbent opponent, Crowley.

Remember when we first heard of her and we all struggled with pronouncing her name? We don’t have that problem anymore, now do we? And those who still do have taken to giving her a nickname of AOC, which sounds kind of adorable when you think about it. It adds to her brand as someone intimate and personable like a friend or family member.

Either way, she’s now become a household name nationwide.

Recently, Scott Adams has noted her skill as well; and it pleases me greatly to know that I was able to touch on many of the same points he made about her even before he said them. This shows I’ve clearly started to internalize the Persuasion Filter; and yet, there is still a world of difference between he, the master, and me, the apprentice wizard, as evidenced by his ability to ultimately change my mind about her feud with Ben Shapiro:

(Relevant part at 43:35 if it doesn't go automatically.)

Much like a certain other pair I’ve written extensively about, it’s both exciting and frustrating watching two people you respect and admire go at it like that.

Candace Owens is another rising star Master Persuader. She has taken a few shots of her own at Red Cortez, fairing far better than most. Unlike with Ben Shapiro, AOC can’t stonewall her based on identity politics. It’ll be interesting to see the two of them spar in the future.

Again, don’t get me wrong. I have plenty of criticism of Ocasio's policies; and much the same as with a certain other democratic socialist, I am tough but kind in my rebuking. Unlike most of you, I don’t attack her character, I attack her arguments.

You may be wondering why I do that? Again, it’s because I recognize her humanity, as well as her abilities, and it’d be a shame to waste them by alienating her with hateful rhetoric. Better if we can just cozy up to her and kill her with kindness, winning her to our side through judicious application of gentle persuasion backed by reason.

Most of you have logos and ethos in your toolkit, and some even have telos as well, but a lot of you lack proficiency in pathos, which is arguably just as important.

Among the first observations I made of Red Cortez was that, if only she could be turned on economic issues towards something representing fiscal conservativism, and in keeping with first principles of Natural Law, she’d basically become another Ben Shapiro or Candace Owens.

What an asset that would be, right? She’d be nearly unstoppable.

So why not have her debate Ben? Well, as Scott Adams pointed out, it’s because it’s not to her strategic advantage to do so. Doing that would have been to walk into a trap. Granted, it’s one that I selfishly would have liked to see her walk into, because it'd be better for everyone in the long run; but from the perspective of someone employing the Persuasion Filter, the way things turned out is actually far more entertaining in many ways.

Although, I do love me some political bloodsports now and then.

For those who haven’t been following the story, this all began when Ocasio-Cortez went around challenging her opponent to a debate but was turned down. She called him a coward, and the media as well for underestimating her, for not taking her seriously, and for refusing to engage with her. For not giving her the attention she needed to become a Master Persuader. Being the strategic genius that he is, Ben then seized upon the opportunity and offered her $10,000 of his own money paid to either her campaign or a charity of her choice if she would come on his Sunday Special and debate with her. He even amended this, saying that it didn’t necessarily have to be a debate, it could just be a cordial discussion.

If you’ve not watched the Sunday Special, it’s really good. Ben does an amazing job and is extremely professional, even having people he vehemently disagrees with sit and talk for an hour:

The benefit to Cortez is that she gets free money and publicity, as well as the opportunity to reach a mostly conservative audience of considerable size. A common Trump tactic is to be willing to walk away from the table and in refusing Ben's ten grand, Turning Point USA has since offered her a hundred grand to debate Candace Owens, and we can imagine more people will be throwing money her way, arming the enemy and filling her war chest. They probably view it as an investment if they can advance their own ideas and ultimately turn her on economic issues.

I imagine AOC will collect when she's good and ready to collect. 38D

As I said, this was initially a trap for Red Cortez. If she accepts, she gets publicly destroyed by Ben, who is a master debater armed to the teeth with facts and statistics about economic issues:

The upshot is maybe she learns something from it and is strengthened by the process, either crafting better arguments to defend her ideas or replacing them wholesale with better ones. She can also claim she had the courage to stand and face a tough opponent and didn’t back down from a challenge. It would also be good practice for when she has to face Republican opponents in Washington.

Conversely, if she refuses, it makes her look even worse. It shows she’s a fool for leaving free money on the table. It makes her look weak and unable to defend her position. Ben gets to call her a coward, and admittedly I even took up that banner myself for a while. It also makes her look like a hypocrite, which in my book is just about the worst thing you can be, since she wanted attention but turned it down when she got it.

It was a no-win situation for her.

So what did she do? She turned the tables on Ben, putting him on the defensive by attacking his gender, essentially calling him a sexist catcaller and forcing him to respond to that. This is obviously a distraction, but a rather effective one for several reasons.

As Scott pointed out, she still got the attention she sought and more. We’re all talking about that instead of her being demolished by Ben. It made her look strong by launching a counterattack, though she’s still a hypocrite. Her base ate it up though, being a bunch of progressives seeing a young female heroine stand up to a (perceived) bully while virtue-signaling feminist talking points and sophistry.

Of course, Ben is far more experienced at this. He was able to use his platform to effectively defend himself on his show and then took to viciously mocking her, asking if she was guilty of catcalling for doing the exact same thing in Queens:

Now, as I said, there’s a reason Scott’s the master and I’m just the apprentice still. I saw all that stuff, but what I missed was the fact that she didn’t have to debate him. At least, not yet. On Twitter, I argued that eventually she would have to face people like and that he was, in fact, entitled to her time – even though he wasn’t from her district or running against her – because, if elected, the policies she put forward would eventually affect people like Ben in terms of their tax dollars, their property rights, and potentially other liberties as well.

Scott pointed out how, in terms of strategy, however, her first job was to sure up her base and win the primary. She could deal with him later, much like Trump’s first job was to win the Republican primary against the likes of Jeb and Ted.

In terms of persuasion, it was a great play, and Scott likened it to her Rosie O’Donnell moment.

Depicted: How AOC's supporters view the debate offer.

Had Ben been trained in the art of persuasion, he probably could have continued to crush her by creating more elaborate traps. Alas, feelz are something he struggles with, and I wouldn’t expect otherwise from the man who literally coined the phrase, “Facts don’t care about your feelings.”

Politically, I’m happy that a lot of the people Red Cortez backed lost their races because, as I said, her economic policies are just garbage. However, one thing you absolutely have to respect about Ocasio is her sense of compassion and her tremendous tenacity and hustle. She rightly took pride in the fact that she was out there pounding the pavement, knocking on every door. Those who read my article on Austin Petersen know that persuasion and hard work are both traits I admired in him as well, above and beyond agreeing with most of his political views.

AOC is very much a populist and so it’s no surprise that Bernie is taking her under his wing.

Let’s talk about some of her gaffes.

Earlier, I was listening to Tim Pool do a response video to an article about how AOC was the Sarah Palin of the left – the point being to draw comparison to the mostly SNL parodies of her being so stupid as to say things like, “The country of Africa” and “I can see Russia from my house.” All things she never said, but which we remember her for.

I like Tim a lot. He’s a very objective guy, very middle of the road in terms of politics and his time as a journalist has taught him aspects of the Persuasion Filter. He's also recently earned a spot in my Portraits of Inspiration gallery for this. That said, he and Ben and Sargon and others of that same group all seem to miss the same thing, both about Donald Trump and about Ocasio-Cortez. It’s that facts matter to outcomes, but not to persuasion, and their success is largely because of the things they say and how they say them.

Being on the left and having spoken to many people on the progressive far left, I would expect Tim to know this a little bit better, but I watch him struggle with it as well.

Trump makes provocative statements and sucks all the attention to himself, crowding out everything else so that we’re only focused on him. You can think of it as a power grab in the most technical, amoral sense of the word. We may not like what he says, it may be stupid or wrong; but getting attention is the first step of persuasion. The second is closing the deal.

Ocasio-Cortez is the same in that regard. She has the same skill set as Trump, albeit with forty years less experience at wielding it; but she is learning fast and on the go much like Trump did. And just like Trump, the things she says are provocative and polarizing, while being directionally accurate, even if they aren’t accurate in their specific details. Because of that, she taps into people’s emotional centers, bypassing the logical part of their brains, which is how you can lie and still be effective if there’s still at least a core of truth to what you’re saying:

Case in point, she gets a lot of flak for saying that the reason unemployment is so low is because people are working two jobs. Objectively, if we’re looking only at the facts, this is obviously an absurd twisting of causality. However, it’s directionally accurate.

What do I mean by that?

Typically, when we think of employment, we picture someone working a single full-time job for forty hours a week. Under Obama, people boasted about how many jobs were being created and unemployment was going down; but critics quickly pointed out that the reason for this was because people were being taken off the rolls for having given up looking for work. Those that did have jobs also weren’t always working the single full-time forty hours, so much as two or three part-time jobs. So in terms of raw numbers, you can rightly claim that unemployment is going down; but in terms of real world implications, it’s not as meaningful as you might have expected.

So you're counting two part-time jobs created and held by the same person as though they were two full-time jobs held by different people, which is simply a flagrant misrepresentation of reality. It's sophistry in that it plays on people's emotions while ignoring the facts.

I would argue AOC was probably referring to the same concept and simply conflated two talking points, combining them into one. Despite being technically wrong about the cause and effect, she is emotionally correct in so far as she’s tapping into people’s experience of having to work multiple jobs or else technically being unemployed while still being actually unemployed and feeling dissatisfied in preferring to have a single full-time job that pays better.

We can apply the same logic to her statement about the upper middle class. Obviously, they still exist, but she is making an exaggerated claim for emotional effect, possibly referencing the common talking point about a shrinking middle class that’s struggle due to low income and high taxes or something.

That point’s been debunked anyway, so she’s still wrong; but it’s a more charitable interpretation of her statement than what her critics are giving her.

Regarding the Israeli occupation of Palestine, even if she couldn’t articulate what she meant in the interview, I’ll fill you in. Yes, it’s an occupation, referring not just to the settlements, but also the aggressive attempts at territorial expansion into parts of Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Jordan, and elsewhere as part of a radical religious plot to restore the Jewish Promised Land to its Biblical proportions.

Here’s a map of what I’m talking about, since visuals are highly persuasive.

That’s a topic for another time, and one we can debate; but suffice to say it’s one I actually agree with her on, even if she’s bad at explaining it. Again, directionally correct.

Regarding her accusation that her Democrat opponent was plotting a third-party challenge, I’m not as familiar with the context of it, but that just sounds like more hyperbolic rhetoric to my ears. As a libertarian, I hear all the time how third-party voters are trying to undermine the election of the major two (because we operate in a first past the post system) and it’s pretty much always political bullshit surrounding a grain of truth. People often use it as an excuse for why their candidate did badly (*cough*Hillary*cough*) but it also points to very real systemic problems.

I rate this criticism of AOC as weak sauce.

Earlier, mentioned I disagreed with her on the idea of abolishing ICE. As a libertarian, the two biggest issues I've shifted on are immigration and UBI. I used to be for open borders for reasons of economics and liberty until I learned of the effects things like culture, IQ, and ideology have on a free society and how, as much as we wish it were otherwise, the reality is, not everyone thinks the same or loves liberty like we do and it's not just down to reeducation. Some people just wanna watch the world burn, and some wanna vote for big government, which is almost the same thing in the long run.

A lot of my disagreement with people who call for abolishing ICE comes down to whether or not they mean it literally or if it's merely rhetorical. Remember that Donald Trump started off by saying we were going to ban all Muslims and deport all illegal immigrants. He then walked that back to a territorial ban of certain hostile nations, while offering leniency for the DACA people.

This we call a big initial ask, and then you negotiate to get as close to that as you can, knowing you probably won't get everything you want and will have to make compromises. But the big ask is mostly about staking a position and getting attention.

Abolish ICE could be like that, in which case you just see right through it and start chipping away to something more reasonable. For instance, no one likes kids in cages, not even Trump and his supporters; but it's a choice between putting kids in cages or letting them into the custody of potential child traffickers. Another no-win situation that Trump managed to narrowly escape by giving his detractors exactly what they wanted in the form of signing a piece of paper and some mystical hand waving, and then letting them play with that for a while, as he waited for them to realize that what they wanted isn't going to actually solve the problem.

Reasonable people can recognize the nuance of the situation. That the border needs to be enforced for the preservation of the nation while still acknowledging and opposing various abuses by the authorities committed in the course of carrying out that duty. It's not an either-or.

Ocasio-Cortez is obviously smart, and skilled in persuasion. I doubt she's enough of a radical ideologue as to want to completely do away with borders or law enforcement the way Antifa does. I could be wrong, I suppose, but it seems unlikely. If she is that radical, then obviously that bullshit needs to be stopped post-haste. However, as I said, it's probably just hyperbolic rhetoric that's emotionally and directionally correct in terms of being against civil injustices and government abuse.

Master Persuaders are good at that sort of thing.

In contrast (because contrast is important for persuasion), her comments about healthcare and taxes just show she’s bad at economics, which is about what I’d expect from a democratic socialist. By all means, feel free to viciously mock her for that to your heart's content. Mockery is quite an effective tactic. But at least in terms of the “funeral costs” statement she made, here again I find myself forced to defend her for at least being directionally correct.

Allow me to Darksplain for you:

"Funeral costs are really expensive and are something we don’t really think about in the course of dealing with other health issues; but just like with healthcare, it can be a sudden and horrific burden to us that we are not prepared for, which can leave people destitute and feeling vulnerable. Wouldn’t it be great if we expanded existing government welfare programs to cover those costs as well to help people in need?"

See? That sounds a lot better, right? It means exactly the same as what she said.

Obviously, it’s still a retarded policy and we shouldn’t do it anyway for fiscally conservative reasons, but hopefully you get the point. You people need to up your game and learn to see through her innocent mistakes to the deeper intent behind them. The way you beat Ocasio-Cortez is to turn her arguments against her, pitting her against her own principles and her own feelings, instead of being petty and playing in the weeds.

As the master warned, you ignore her at your own peril.

Much like certain other socialists in my Portraits of Inspiration gallery, I like her in spite of her economic policies because I'm not a partisan ideologue. I can see past that one dimension to her other admirable qualities. I may disagree with her, but I'm not against her. From what I've seen so far, she's passionate and resourceful, having managed to successful oust her incumbent opponent with little experience, relying solely on her grit, her intelligent, and her persuasion chops.

She is someone who will go far in life and I genuinely want her to do better because she has the capacity to do a lot of good for the world.

All in all, she may have some terrible policies (at least economically); but she has a gentle heart and means well. I think if she could be taught a healthy respect for property rights, she'd be a real force to contend with and an asset to lovers of liberty, which is why I don't trash her character.

As I said, I like AOC, even if you don't. I’m sure I could have a productive conversation with her if we ever met, but I’m not one of her constituents either. Maybe someday. I do live close to Queens.

If you're interested in politics and pop culture, you might like reading my book. It features a strong female protagonist who takes names and kicks ass for the cause of justice. Also, if you find the work I'm doing to be valuable, please consider supporting me on Patreon. It really helps a lot and I appreciate your generosity.

May you each find love, peace, purpose, happiness, and will in your lives.

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