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No, Ocasio-Cortez Won’t Be Another Obama — Unless Republicans Let It Happen

Conservative host John Cardillo and I launched into a friendly Twitter disagreement over the future of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez — the milliennial socialist who ousted a 10-term New York Democrat — when he warned Republicans not to underestimate or dismiss her. "We made that mistake with Obama," he said. I disagreed.

It’s not that I don’t think she’s a threat, given the trajectory of the Democratic Party and their talent for taking unqualified candidates and transforming them into national stars. In this sense, Cardillo is right. Republicans would be fools to ignore her and the orgasmic excitement surrounding her win.

My contention here is over the assumption that Obama rose to power and influence because Republicans underestimated him and dismissed him. I don’t think so. Obama rose to power because Republicans overestimated and legitimized him — a fatal mistake, and I don’t want to see Republicans make it again.

All it takes to gain popularity in politics these days is charisma and good looks, and that’s one step down the road to legitimacy. The smarts don’t really matter if you surround yourself with smart people. That’s what Obama did, though I would say he is light years smarter than Ocasio-Cortez. Regardless, the economics major from Boston University who worked on the Bernie Sanders campaign is already being groomed as the next king — or in this case, queen.

She has the rags-to-riches story, though the rags aren’t quite as ragged as she claims. She is attractive, young, energetic, and a minority woman — everything that typically puts Republicans on the defensive. This is a mistake; fear makes you weak, and when you’re weak, you don’t fight. If you go into the game talking about how great the other side is, you empower them and undermine yourself.

Obama gained power because Republicans were complicit in his elevation of status. He was a young, charismatic black man with an angsty backstory. They were afraid to attack him because, you know, “Racists!” Some did anyway, of course — the bold men and women in conservative talk radio — but establishment politicians, mainstream journalists, and even a lot of conservatives praised him along with the Left, ignoring his flaws and his shady history.

After Obama’s famous speech at the Democratic National Convention, Republicans lauded him, seduced by his image instead of being repelled by his philosophy and his work as a community agitator. They helped downplay the serious nature of his anti-American sentiments by refusing to be on the offensive. His opponent in 2008, John McCain, foolishly did everything he could to cater to Obama short of rolling out the red carpet.