First it was a photo of long-haired Beto O’Rourke playing in a punk band. Now, it’s college-age Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez dancing on a rooftop.
Both were surfaced by the right to seemingly smear the progressive politicians. Both efforts backfired spectacularly.
The Ocasio-Cortez clip in question shows the politician rocking some 1980s “Breakfast Club”-style dance moves with friends on a rooftop to Phoenix’s “Lisztomania.” The video, shot while Ocasio-Cortez was a student at Boston University, has bounced around the Internet before, but it went viral Thursday.
It first resurfaced on Twitter on Wednesday, the day before Ocasio-Cortez was sworn in as the youngest-ever female member of Congress. A Twitter user that affiliates itself with the far-right conspiracy theorist QAnon posted the video with the caption: “Here is America’s favorite commie know-it-all acting like the clueless nitwit she is…”
But if the point of releasing the video was to mock the young congresswoman, it elicited the exact opposite response:
Since Ocasio-Cortez burst onto the political scene with her surprise primary victory over incumbent Joseph Crowley, she has become a favorite punching bag for the right. They are offended by her politics — she’s a self-described democratic socialist — and her inexperience. They’ve attacked her clothes and that maybe she went by “Sandy” in high school?
But the attacks often fall flat. Ocasio-Cortez, 28, catapulted to celebrity-level fame in the past few months, buoyed by live, unfiltered social media videos that offer a more authentic glimpse at who she is. The right’s attacks target the things that make her so popular: her fresh, unjaded view of what can be accomplished in Washington. Maybe it’s naive, but for many Americans, it feels refreshing.
It’s reminiscent of candidate Barack Obama. Remember those pictures of a young Obama smoking what looked like marijuana (though it could have been a cigarette)? They only added to his “cool” factor. Because there’s no strategy in dredging up old photos or videos of politicians actually looking hip and fun in their youth.