“I knew that I was not going to be liked. I’m a woman. I’m a young woman.”
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tried to get inside the conservative psyche in an interview published Sunday.
Speaking to David Remnick, the sympathetic editor of The New Yorker, she said that her critics hate her because she’s a “pretty idiot” to them – but also because they are allegedly threatened by her power.
“I am as powerful as a man, and it drives them crazy,” said the freshman Democrat from New York.
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Remnick purported to reconcile the two somewhat contradictory attempts at psychoanalysis, saying: “In the cartoon being painted of her, Ocasio-Cortez is both ideologically monstrous and intellectually limited.”
He also mocked conservatives’ sometimes-“creepy” opposition to her, using former Trump adviser Sebastian Gorka’s “sweaty, two hour rant” Saturday at CPAC as an example.
Ocasio-Cortez – who is a near-constant and combative presence on social media and in the press – bemoaned the burden of her political celebrity. She said that being both “America’s greatest villain” and “the new hope” is a distraction from her important policy work.
“It feels like an extra job,” she said. “And it’s pretty tiring. I’m just a normal person.”
Ocasio-Cortez went on to elaborate on how her various identities supposedly trigger her critics, and how she predicted it would be this way.
“I knew that I was not going to be liked. I’m a Democrat. I’m a woman. I’m a young woman. A Latina. And I’m a liberal, a D.S.A. member,” she said, referring to the Democratic Socialists of America. “I believe health care is a right and people should be paid enough to live. Those are offensive values to them.”
Later in the interview, Ocasio-Cortez decided that President Donald Trump was also upset by her working-class background.
“I can see Trump being enormously upset that a 29-year-old Latina, who is the daughter of a domestic worker, is helping to build the case to get his financial records. I think that adds insult to injury to him,” she said.
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According to her, the conservative attacks on her are not not just upsetting, but possibly put her at physical risk.
“But this ravenous hysteria—it’s really getting to a level that is kind of out of control. It’s dangerous and even scary,” she said. “I have days when it seems some people want to stoke just enough of it to have just enough plausible deniability if something happens to me.”
No mention was made of the substantive criticisms of Ocasio-Cortez, which have not been exclusively made by the right, including her pie-in-the-sky socialist ambitions, her lack of experience and knowledge, her challenges with factuality, her broad-brush attacks on her critics, and her frequent indulgence in identity politics.
At one point, Remnick read to Ocasio-Cortez from a recent post on the feminist blog Jezebel. Writer Ashley Reese had argued that women in politics are characterized as either “hideous harpies,” such as Hillary Clinton, or “pretty idiots.” “To her critics, Ocasio-Cortez is firmly in the pretty idiot category,” Reese said.
Ocasio-Cortez agreed with the analysis. “I feel like I predicted it from day one,” she said, again touting her prescience. “The idea that a woman can be as powerful as a man is something that our society can’t deal with.”
In addition to praising Ocasio-Cortez’s sense of humor and her “star turn” questioning Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen last week, Remnick called her Green New Deal “bold.” He dismissed conservatives’ opposition to the plan for a massive expansion in government spending and regulation as a “fear campaign.”
Despite all the hardships she feels she endures, Ocasio-Cortez said she feels she must continue to be a hero and “run toward the fire.”
“It still feels terrifying every time. I am trying to pick my battles, but, until there are more people running toward the fire, it’s hard to take a break,” she said. “The good news is that there seems like more people are running toward the fire. It’s scary running into a burning building. But what is the choice? It can’t be understated how imperilled our democracy is right now.”
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