Here’s a Really Dumb Conservative Meme About Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

It misses the entire point of her congressional campaign.

G. Ronald Lopez/ZUMA Wire

Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez instantly became a national celebrity after she upset 10-term incumbent Rep. Joe Crowley in last week’s primary. Ocasio-Cortez, a 28-year-old member of the Democratic Socialists of America, scored interviews on Meet the Press and the Late Show With Stephen Colbert, and has inspired a whole bunch of op-eds wondering what her lefty campaign portends for the future of the Democratic Party.

Conservative pundits have taken notice too. On Sunday, Newsmax TV host John Cardillo dropped what he considered to be a bombshell. Although Ocasio-Cortez stands to represent a district that includes parts of Queens and the Bronx (where she lives now), Cardillo pointed that she used to live in the suburbs:

That wasn’t quite right, and the candidate eventually set him straight:

But Cardillo’s argument—echoed by places like the Daily Mail—misses something fundamental about Ocasio-Cortez’s message. That house with the leafy yard Cardillo tweeted out? The family nearly lost it after Ocasio-Cortez’s father died of cancer during the Great Recession. In the hopes of keeping it, her mother cleaned houses and drove buses and, and Ocasio-Cortez—flush with a background in public policy and that economics degree from BU—took a job waitressing and bartending at a Mexican restaurant in Manhattan. (Eventually, they sold the house.)

Ocasio-Cortez tells a variation of that story all the time, and for good reason. It’s a classic story of the Great Recession, and even more so, it’s a classic story of millennials during the Great Recession, stunted in their prospects by the failings of political and economic institutions, always one crisis away from disaster. Cardillo is staring right at the essence of Ocasio-Cortez’s message, but he still can’t see it.

THE BIG QUESTION...

as we head into 2020 is whether politics and media will be a billionaires’ game, or a playing field where the rest of us have a shot. That's what Mother Jones CEO Monika Bauerlein tackles in her annual December column—"Billionaires Are Not the Answer"—about the state of journalism and our plans for the year ahead.

We can't afford to let independent reporting depend on the goodwill of the superrich: Please help Mother Jones build an alternative to oligarchy that is funded by and answerable to its readers. Please join us with a tax-deductible, year-end donation so we can keep going after the big stories without fear, favor, or false equivalency.

THE BIG QUESTION...

as we head into 2020 is whether politics and media will be a billionaires’ game, or a playing field where the rest of us have a shot.

Please read our annual column about the state of journalism and Mother Jones' plans for the year ahead, and help us build an alternative to oligarchy by supporting our people-powered journalism with a year-end gift today.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.