They’re both brash outer-borough New Yorkers, each with their own notorious nickname — she’s AOC; he’s The Donald.
Both shocked their parties by coming out of nowhere to win their elections, defeating members of the establishment, despite being greatly outspent.
And both have broken the rules of DC politics in strikingly similar ways, using social media to push policy and usher in previously uninspired voters.
Though they have very different ideological bents, President Trump and newly minted Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are two sides of the same coin, heralding a new era of fresh, unbridled, unapologetic politics that delights a frustrated base of voters who feel forgotten.
“The similarities between the two New Yorkers are striking,” said Jeff Brauer, a political science professor at Keystone College in LaPlume, Pa.
“Much like the way Donald Trump used social media in 2015 and 2016 to disrupt and energize people on the right who felt ignored, Ocasio-Cortez is energizing people on the left who felt left out of the process,” agreed Democratic strategist Mike Mikus.
Just take AOC’s tweet on Sunday, where she defended rapper (and fellow Bronxite) Cardi B, who was swapping insults with Fox News personality Tomi Lahren:
“Why do people think they can mess with Bronx women without getting roasted?” AOC tweeted. “They act as though our borough hasn’t been perfecting the clapback game since the Sugarhill Gang . . . y’all just found it on Twitter.”
She also mocked former Democratic vice-presidential nominee Joe Lieberman earlier this month for saying he hoped she was not the future of the party, tweeting simply: “New party, who dis?”
It’s the same kind of gut punch Trump brings to the ring to knock out his foes, including Kim Jong-un (“Little Rocket Man”), Elizabeth Warren (“Pocahontas”) and Ted Cruz (“Lyin’ Ted”).
Numbers from data company CrowdTangle compiled by Axios show that AOC had nearly 14.3 million total interactions on Twitter, far less than Trump, who had 41.8 million, but nearly three times as many as former President Barack Obama, who had 5.3 million during the 30-day period between Dec. 17, 2018, and Jan. 17, 2019.
Both AOC and Trump see themselves as consensus builders and dealmakers. At the same time, both profess boldly populist platforms — AOC from the left and Trump from the right. Both won and maintain support by speaking for those who’ve felt left out of economic and political power compared to traditional politicians who move toward the middle to try to attract those who disagree with them.
And whether or not you agree with AOC’s politics, you have to recognize her ability to impact the national debate.
“I think the most important question of the congresswoman’s rising importance is, are we paying attention to why she resonates?” asked Mark Durdach, a Trump supporter who is studying at Keystone College and fascinated by the new representative. Though they have very different ideological bents, President Trump and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are two sides of the same coin
AOC’s voice is refreshing to the young, urban populists who find the Democratic establishment stale and corrupt. Their world view has been shaped by the attacks on 9/11, an economic depression, a technological revolution, and rapid social change. While they liked Obama, he disappointed them on change issues like government reform. AOC gets that because she’s lived it, and her authenticity shows in everything she says and does.
Despite Trump’s wealth and status as a member of the global elite, he understands that a large number of Americans are deeply rooted to places that the establishment has left to wither in the wind. The people who support AOC and Trump feel that their ability to achieve the American dream has been compromised by big, corrupt institutions.
“Watching both of them is a good way of understanding how our country is changing,” said Abraham Kittel, a young progressive who worked on two successful Democratic state legislative races in Pennsylvania last year and loves AOC’s policies and tweets. “Both Trump and AOC do things more directly and they are essentially saying to the political norms, ‘All right. The old way is not working, why not try something new.’ ”
Until people realize both leaders are tapping into the same core of American frustration right now, they’ll never truly understand our current political landscape. Members of the establishment need to get out of their bubbles and understand why people are rejecting them and flocking towards the disrupters.
This is who we are right now, and it’s who we are going to be for at least a decade. Trump and AOC didn’t cause it, they are the result of it, and the unrest will continue long after both have left office.