AOC’s Grasp on American Governance Is ‘a Farce’

Progressive Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, echoing the complaint of the Democratic Party establishment, believes that Sen. Joe Manchin engaged in an “egregious breach” of President Joe Biden’s trust by refusing to support his welfare-expansion plans.

“The idea that Joe Manchin says that he can’t explain this back home to his people is a farce,” said Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y. I-Vt. Sen. Bernie Sanders noted that Manchin, D-W.Va. would have to do a lot more explaining in West Virginia, after abandoning Build Back Better.

The reality, as they know, is that the Democrats’ legislation is probably more unpopular in Manchin’s home state—with 74% opposing—than any other in the nation. So it’s somewhat odd to hear people who claim to be guardians of “democracy” arguing that a senator owes his loyalty to his party over his state. This is until you realize quickly that the selective, temporary promotion of crude majorityitarianism by Democrats can be seen as a cynical bid for power.

“I mean, it’s a farce in terms of plain democracy because I represent more or just as many or more people than Joe Manchin does—perhaps more,” Ocasio-Cortez went on.

As a factual matter, this is incorrect: West Virginia has a little under 1.8 million residents, and Ocasio-Cortez’s district a little over 700,000—but, far more importantly, it is completely irrelevant. There is no “plain democracy,” as anyone with a rudimentary understanding of basic civics already knows.

The Senate was created to prevent people living in dense areas like Queens from ruling over people in rural West Virginia. This is how we maintain a diverse nation. Whenever you point out that we’re not living in a democracy and that majoritarian rule is fundamentally un-American, illiberal and authoritarian, you get lectures about how “democracy” doesn’t mean direct democracy.

But what does it mean when historians, politicians, and left-wing leaders make statements such as, “Last time I checked, I didn’t vote for Joe Manchin for president”? Surely, they understand that the president isn’t a legislator. They understand that each senator has exactly the same power. Or do they take the view of Sanders, who already speaks as if he’s living in a one-party state, that 51 senators are a minority if Democrats happen to make up the other 49?  

Progressives demand that the Electoral College be abolished if Democrats lose a presidential election. When Democrats don’t get their way in the Supreme Court, progressives demand that we pack the courts. When Democrats can’t get the votes to pass their legislation, progressives demand that we end the Senate.

“What we really need to do is crack down on the Senate,” Ocasio-Cortez said, “which acts like an old boys’ club.” (Isn’t a senator, supposedly acting alone against the wishes of his entire caucus, in a club of one?) Now, maybe progressives are just spinning their wheels in the short term, but they’re also normalizing a kind of radicalism within their ranks that threatens American governance.

In this instance, Democrats were unable to pass Build back Better despite having avoided normal and open debate by leaning towards reconciliation and a simple majority. And it’s unlikely Manchin is alone in opposing the bill. There may be a few more Democrats in the Senate that would support a massive welfare-state expansion, which is debt-fueled and in the middle of low economic recovery and high inflation.

These politicians may not hail from states where three-quarters of the population are antagonistic to the president’s agenda, but how popular could Biden really be in Montana or New Hampshire or Arizona?

Build Back Better’s failure—should it fail in the long run (Manchin is a mercurial sort, after all)—was predicated on Biden’s ill-conceived decision to cast his lot with the hard left.

The modern Democratic Party is increasingly dominated by what seems to be cocooned social-media influencers. They are adept at whipping up progressive mobs and dumping on West Virginia senators. However, they are terrible at real world governance.

And frankly, in the end, that’s probably a blessing for the nation.


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