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Left-wingers should lighten up over AOC’s political fashion statement

Dress for success, or so the saying goes.

US Democratic congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) took that quite literally this week.

Sporting an elegant get-up at the ultra-exclusive, $30,000-dollars-a-plate Met Gala ball, the celebrity socialite…sorry…socialist, mingled with the rich and famous in a stunning gown with a daring “Tax the Rich” call-to-action emblazoned down the rear of her outfit.

AOC’s apparent aim as she graced the red carpet was to raise the topic of wealth-redistribution – a radical concept whereby those who can afford to fund their own space programs should be expected to contribute more to the public purse.

But it also raised interesting questions about the circular firing squad of the political left generally. It is on the left that you’ll find some of the harshest criticisms of AOC.

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On the far-left in the States, she is regarded widely as a sell-out.

This, of course, should surprise no one.

For many left-wing radicals, principles come before power.

Even if that means never mounting a successful local campaign.

Or standing for election. Or anyone ever knowing who you are, what you do or what you believe.

Your politics are validated, not by public endorsement, but by using social media as a sneer dispensary where you grow increasingly
confident in a certain simplistic view of the world, comforted by the certain knowledge you’ll never get close enough to power for your theories to be tested.

The satisfaction for this kind of grumpy leftist comes not from trying to change anything but from finding opportunities to be sarcastic about other people’s attempts to change things. Anyone who manages to professionalise their politics, or becomes moderately well-known, is regarded as a grifter.

Indeed, the fact AOC was even elected to Congress raises eyebrows on parts of the left automatically, for in order to be regarded as credible in the eyes of many a chin-stroker you must first demonstrate, beyond all doubt, that you are politically futureless.

AOC’s public profile and knowing flirtations with the press are, for some, evidence that she has been effectively co-opted, and that her primary function is to provide the Democratic Party (and capitalism), with a leftish veneer. You wouldn’t catch Bernie Sanders (a millionaire) hanging out with rich people.

That is, unless you were at Obama’s last White House Correspondents’ gig, or Joe Biden’s inauguration.

Both being primary locations around which the proletariat are known to congregate.

If making money or being famous corrupts you automatically, then why are intellectual rock stars like Noam Chomsky and Slavoj Zizek held up by so many as paragons of integrity and virtue?

AOC is not in the easiest position ever. Even by making the statement with the dress she was then accused of pulling attention from the Black Lives Matter protest going on outside the venue – a protest which happens every year that has never drawn media attention.

She is, of course, not the first person to make a literal political fashion statement.

From abolitionists in the 18th century, to AIDS campaigners and anti-war activists in the 80s and 90s, political movements often utilise clothing or accessories as a means of generating visibility.

I agree AOC is not going to be firing the starting gun of the revolution. But does that mean she is of no value in the struggle for equality?

My view is that some on the left would do well to consider their own public relations strategies.

Because if you are genuinely serious about radically reforming everyone and everything else in the world, you yourself might dare to try something new – like lightening up a bit.

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It’s better not to know what lies ahead

I have just emerged from the 9/11 YouTube rabbit-hole.

I’m sure you’ve ventured down there on occasion, too. It’s very grim, isn’t it?

This year, as commentary on the 20th anniversary dominated media, I became slightly obsessed with the more morbid aspects of the attacks.

Flight simulations which chart the planes from take-off to impact, scored by air-traffic controller recordings.

Desperate phone-calls made from the upper-floors, moments before the towers collapsed.

One in particular which sticks in my mind reveals a terrified New Yorker being advised to pray by an emergency call handler. There are, of course, the countless stories of heroism and bravery.

But even the now infamous storming of the cockpit of United 93 by courageous passengers moments before it crashed is a gruelling horror story – if you really look into it.

I didn’t emerge from the rabbit-hole with a sense of gratitude for what I have, or the urge to tell people I loved them.

I was struck by the terrible reality that no matter what we might have planned when we leave the house in the morning, we truly have absolutely no idea what awaits us as we walk out the door.

And I think it’s better that way.

BoJo’s hapless cabinet

Boris Johnson’s cabinet reshuffle (which appeared to act as somewhat of a distraction from the debate about cutting Universal Credit) was about the most exciting thing to happen this week – if your life is extremely tedious.

The hapless Dominic Raab was punished for staying on holiday during the fall of Kabul by being allowed to remain in government and also made deputy prime minister.

Ministerial code-breaker and resident hawk Priti Patel is to remain minister for scaring immigrants.

While Michael Gove received a pat on the back for historic racist, classist and misogynistic comments he made in the 90s by being put in charge of Johnson’s “levelling up” agenda – something “toothless northerners” will be extremely happy about.

The reshuffle was at least comprehensive.

The list of appointments is almost as large as the search results produced if you Google “stupid things Liz Truss has said in the last 45 minutes”.

What could possibly go wrong?

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