How Cortez Trumps Conservatives
Young conservative pundits have created something of a cottage industry out of ridiculing young candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, especially after Democrat National Committee chairman Tom Perez said that she "represents the future" of the Democrat Party. Criticism has focused primarily on her inaccurate statements on economic issues and her advocacy of "democratic socialism." For young conservatives, advocacy of anything with the word "socialism" in it is economic illiteracy, by definition.
My advice to conservatives is: back off. Attacking Cortez for economic ignorance may tickle your base, but it will be ineffective against her candidacy. That might not matter much, right now, since her election is almost certain in her heavily Democratic New York district. But it is important for conservatives to learn how to effectively battle young, progressive candidates like her, now. There will be more of them.
Conservatives should remember how, during the 2016 primary campaign, Donald Trump was stumped by Hugh Hewitt's use of the term "nuclear triad." Trump didn't back down, and few voters really cared. Something similar is going on with Ocasio-Cortez. Her popularity is linked to the imagery of her candidacy and her emotional resonance with voters, not the accuracy of her talking points. When she errs, she errs on the side of what young Democrats tend to believe. And such errors are entirely forgivable. Americans don't mind gambling on young, naive candidates, so long as we are convinced that their heart is in the right place. Intellectual takedowns of socialism, however clever they may be, cannot convince Americans that a bleeding heart is a bad thing. By resorting to relentless mockery, the Right risks looking cold, calculating, and mean-spirited. That will not bode well in future elections.