(putting this here to avoid derailing the VZ thread)
All American federal politicians must be judged by how they stand on the question of Venezuela. It has quickly developed into an attempted international crime on the level of the 2003 Iraq invasion. Time is precious.
MacCruiskeen wrote:Miss Astroturf 2019 is, you know, still figuring out her response, you know.
Hence, y'know, all that adoring wall-to-wall corporate-media coverage, climaxing with a standing ovation at Sundance.
Harvey wrote:Parallels to a minor celebrity and failed businessman being catapulted to president of the USA by media saturation?
If I understand the implicit premise in these comments, it is entirely false. The efforts of real grassroots organizers, wise or not, should not be insulted in this way. As for this absurd comparison to Trump, let's look at the record:
Celebrity should not be celebrated, most of it is a social corruption. Given that, Donald Trump was no "minor celebrity." It is a reality that for more than 30 years he has been among the 5 or 10 most recognized names in the United States. Well before 2015, that had probably become true of the whole world, thanks to The Apprentice. He has his name featured prominently on high-rises in many cities and in the 1990s and 2000s was able to use his name as the sole selling point for many consumer scam ventures, including an airline and a "university." Besides his own self-worship books, which were best-sellers, several investigative journalists published books about him and his corrupt dealings, including David Cay Johnstone and Wayne Barrett. He occassionally took out full-page ads in the New York Times
to advocate for political stances, including the call for the execution of five innocent black men. Starting in the 1970s he put a lot of money into relentless promotion in the capital city of US media, cultivated the right friends in high places, and was readily adopted as a major shiny object by the corporate media. This became huge in the 1980s. He was a tabloid cover staple, was promoted as a playboy, appeared in cameos without need of introduction in at least a dozen Hollywood films and series, and was interviewed on TV news hundreds of times by 2000. (The 1991 movie Gremlins 2, for whatever it is worth, was set in a fictional Clamp Tower owned by a Trump-clone named Clamp. Every minute detail of the building bore a Clamp brand.) In the 2000s, Trump had a primetime network series for fourteen seasons and it was the top-rated US series for several years. He is in the WWE "Hall of Fame." He led the anti-Obama birther campaign in 2011 and was demolished for it in person by Obama himself from the podium at the 2012 White House Correspondents' Dinner, etc. etc. That he was known for his bankruptcies and usually assumed to be at the head of a crooked organization (correctly) unfortunately only increased his celebrity. He was a butt of jokes and widely hated, but by 2015 already as well-known as the US presidents, and famously hung out with the Clintons (and Epstein). When he ran for president, the corporate media gave the TV star they had created wall-to-wall coverage for months when it counted most. They aired his rallies in full and uncut starting many months before the first presidential primary. This was without precedent. In this crucial pre-primary phase he got three times the corporate media coverage of the Clinton campaign, three times more than all the other Republicans combined, and twenty to a hundred times more than Sanders. It is estimated an equivalent ad buy would have cost 2 billion dollars. Like it or not, by then almost all of the 62 million who would vote for him in November 2016 already knew him as a television fixture, and possibly most of them believed he was a successful "businessman" who was committed to the ideological principles of the Republican Party base and who spoke these without varnish. In the spring of 2016, Sanders was drawing crowds to his own rallies that were three times as big as Trump's, and still getting comparably minor coverage. All this illustrates the power of the capitalist ideology that Trump always serves and of which he is an extreme embodiment. It shows the power of big money when applied in ways knowledgeable of how the corporate propaganda system works. It exposes the rotten values upheld hegemonically as the American dream, which Trump represented for decades, like it or not. If you went back to 1995 or even 1985 and asked a random person to name a billionaire, the largest number would have probably named him. Even if it was never true he was a billionaire.
One year ago, in January 2018, AOC was a bartender in New York making crap money like most of the people in New York and in the United States. She was known only to her own acquaintances. She and her supporters, among them socialist activists from DSA, Justice Democrats, and Socialist Alternative, took to the streets of her district in a campaign that faced the #4 ranked Democrat in the House. Joe Crowley was the head of the Queens machine and a 10-term incumbent who outspent Ocasio by 20 to 1. But he turned out to be a hollowed-out paper tiger who had not faced a primary in 10 years, did not even show up to the debates he promised to attend. Enough people in the district loved what AOC was telling them to get behind her. Her campaign got almost no corporate media coverage and had a moderate viral video success online, again thanks to dedicated activists without funding from corporate or state interests. I live a block outside her district and take in an enormous amount of activist and left-oriented information, and yet I too first heard of her only about a month before the September primary, just four months ago. However, her victory turned out to have required no more than 13,000 votes, sufficient for a large margin over the moribund machine man. Only after she defeated Crowley in the primary did the corporate media widely recognize her, because of this achievement. She goddamn well understood how to leverage that! She has become so well-known overnight above all because she speaks some powerful truths about US society without hesitation and has awesome jiujitsu skills with media -- and because Foxnews and "conservatives" in particular have been howling against her every single day since the primary win, seeking to identify her as a socialist enemy of America. This, in turn, wins friends on the liberal side, even as many in that camp would also like to destroy her or make her conform to business as usual. No activist has ever broken into federal politics without being targeted by recuperation attempts. Hopefully she will learn more on foreign policy (where she is, in principle, exceptionally antiwar for a representative in the House) and wise up to the fact that the right-wing propaganda never fails to (falsely) associate her New Deal politics with the plight of Venezuela under US sanctions. Like the Iraq war resolution of 2002 (which Crowley voted for), an American politician's stance on the Venezuela coup of today is a litmus test.
For all that, the volume of attention given to AOC has been brief and moderate. She has been covered as one celebrity among many. Her name recognition in the U.S. remains a small fraction of Trump's even long before his presidential run. Right now she's just a House member with balls and a homemade megaphone. She may now become a bad politician, that remains to be seen. But so far this is a story of people power applied in the right way at the right pressure point (the opportunity recognized in a district election) and no doubt a good dose of happenstance.