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Less light, more heat

rainey

Here’s a fun fact for you. Most recent CNN polling of registered voters has Trump and Orcasio-Cortez statistically tied in “like” versus “dislike.” The numbers approving (about 41% for each) and the numbers disapproving (about 54%). Weird, huh?

Trump’s been in office just over two years. But, AOC reached her numbers in just about 90 days Something of a record, I think, given all the media attention she gets or puts herself out there for. And that’s the problem. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: “She runs the risk of being just another Kardashian.”

Which is too bad. She’s bright. She’s good on her feet. She’s advocating for most of the proper issues: new and better energy sources, improvements to banking and other finance regulations, higher wages. All good. All needed.

The problem is, since she won her Bronx election in November, between her efforts – and with willing support of national media – she’s achieved “rock star” status with a lot of folks. One of the late night talkers took to the streets recently to see what people thought of AOC. Answers were generally positive among those few who actually knew she was a member of Congress. But, an amazing number actually said “rock star!”

She’s not the only one of the new freshmen in Congress putting herself on the front pages and the talk shows. She has the highest public profile but others – mostly on House committees investigating Trump – are getting a lot of air time. IMHO, too much.

These young people have their “track shoes” on and many “hit the ground running.” Good. Mostly. But, some are demanding their predecessors take up their “new” bills right away. Demanding places on upper level committees. Right now. Wanting seats on the Budget & Finance Committee, for example, that traditionally go to members who’ve served longer and know a lot more about the budgeting process. The newcomers have proven patience is not one of their long suits.

Someone once likened the “ship of state” to an actual ocean liner. It takes a long time to turn that large ship around. It’s got to be done slowly, with many adjustments, before the maneuver is complete. There’s a lot of truth in that comparison.

Our national government was deliberately designed to be slow to change, though there are ways to achieve it. But, there’s great protection from making large-scale mistakes by having to push against the resistance to change. Took me years to learn that because, like AOC and the other “newbies,” I wanted to see more and faster responsiveness to ever-changing societal demands. It just doesn’t work that way. Nor should it.

Anyone who thinks change in government should come quickly need look no further for conclusive proof of the dangers than to note what’s happening in the White House. In the demands of one man’s unchecked, ignorant will, we’re seeing national and international carnage to a degree that’s never happened before. The wreckage he’s created can also come from a government unchecked and in too much of a hurry.

There’s a lot of talent in the new folks. Lots of energy that comes from not having experienced what the inside of Congress really looks like. Or how it operates or having been forced to slow down and learn how things get done. How bad ideas sometimes get through while good ones die aborning. Check back with ‘em in a couple of years and you’ll find the successful ones spent some time learning. And slowing down.

The 2020 election promises even more new faces. And the possible elimination of some disastrous roadblocks i.e. Ol’ Mitch. Whatever damage can be rightfully laid at Trump’s small feet, McConnell has done, in my opinion, far more lasting damage to this nation.

He’s done so by (1) stacking our federal court system with dozens of wholly unqualified people who’ll be there for decades and (2) killing any bills he doesn’t personally “like” or thinks shouldn’t become law. His actions have brought stalemate and partisanship to staggering new levels.

Aside from learning the ways Congress really works – when it works – the new folks need to study monoliths like McConnell and a few others. They need to listen. A lot. Listen to the members of both houses that are effective – that get things done. They need to divert some of that inexperienced enthusiasm into developing more patience with both the system and some of the “older” folks. Don’t lose the eagerness. Just temper it a bit.

They might spend some time with Sen. Sherrod Brown, a Democrat, who came to Congress some years ago, filled with zeal and lots of good ideas. Some of which are now law. Find out why people in “red state” Ohio keep returning him each election. Why they like his “lunch bucket” approach to governing. Still has the zeal. But, he’s also gathered a lot of knowledge and more than a few successes.

At the moment, AOC has a problem. That polling shows it. Just the fact that I can write “AOC” and you immediately know what those letters mean after only a few weeks makes the point.

There’s joy in recognition and acclaim – to be hounded by an ever-hungry media – to be asked by everyone what you think about this-and-that. But, there’s a deep downside when someone newer comes along; someone with a bit brighter wit, just a bit more enthusiasm, just a little more personality. Someone who’s a bit more “quotable.”

The good ones become better, often by ignoring the spotlight while sharpening their talents. She’s obviously got the talent. She’s just got too much spotlight.

Ask what people think when they hear the name “Kardasian.”

(photo/Dimitri Rodriguez)
 

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