Mar 7, 2024

an annoying slog without much drama

Matt Yglesias:

AOC is to Joe Biden’s left on the Israel issue. But Biden is to Donald Trump’s left, and this is March of a presidential election year. Which is why AOC has done things this year like go on television and try to be helpful to Biden’s re-election campaign. That seems like a simple thing, but an incredible share of progressive influencers can’t seem to bring themselves to suck it up and respectfully disagree with the President of the United States while also enthusiastically backing his re-election.

That’s just the way politics works in a presidential system; basically everyone is voting for a presidential candidate they have some significant policy disagreements with. If the nature of those disagreements leaves you genuinely torn over who to support, that’s fine. But if there’s a clear better choice, you back that choice. That’s politics. That’s the strong and slow boring of hard boards. And that’s what AOC is doing in Washington.

Needless to say, a lot of people hate this!

Long before this [most recent] blowup, Freddie de Boer denounced her as “just a regular old Democrat now” in a New York magazine piece. Lily Sánchez in Current Affairs detailed “How AOC Went From Influencer to Influenced.” And Ben Burgis in Jacobin specifically denounced her early and decisive endorsement of Biden. Like many leftists, he wants her and other likeminded people to threaten to deliberately sabotage Biden unless he makes various concessions to the left. What all these various critics keep saying, accurately, is that AOC is making decisions as if she were a normal politician pursuing normal political goals in a normal way. What they want, instead of her being “predictable” and “boring” I guess, is for her to ride into DC on the back of a sandworm and sweep away all obstacles to progress.

and finally:

I think it’s totally fine to find this dull. But if you do find it dull, what you’re saying is that you find politics dull. Which, again, is a totally fine opinion to have. When I first got into politics as a teen in the late-1990s, voter turnout and engagement were low, and it was considered quite eccentric to care about something as dull as electoral politics. I think the more contemporary idea that politics should be exciting and flashy is unhealthy, because fundamentally, the work of politics is kind of boring. I’m thrilled if people get passionate about policy issues and want to understand them and understand the process, but it really is a kind of annoying slog without much drama. But that’s life. An effective leftist politician is going to be boring hard boards as much as anyone else. If you just want to do clownish takes from the sidelines, you’d make more money as a YouTuber than as a House member.