In an era where avowed partisanship and anger twists common sense and decency into something that descends into spitball anger and knee-jerk screaming in either a vocal or textual sense, it’s rare when someone in a position of popularity uses the media in a constructive sense. From the President of the United States to the caller on a local talk show, everyone has the same opportunity to present a positive and well thought out message that actually makes people think instead of reach for a figurative baseball bat.
Especially when the base is American politics.
It needs to be said up front that I am neither a Democrat nor Republican. I have voted for both and neither parties in elections for more than 30 years. I am not a card-carrying fan of the individual we speak of here, and I certainly have more than a few objections to her statements and actions since taking office. However, when accolades are earned, they need to be pronounced for all to hear, read, and be part of an intelligent conversation that needs be colored neither red nor blue.
Which is why Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez deserves more than a passing level of congratulations and admiration for the manner with which she used her Congressional platform. Having been openly insulted by a colleague, forced to endure what amounted to despicable bullying, Ocasio-Cortez carved a victory out of a slap to the face.
Florida Congressman Ted Yoho, a Republican who thus finds every Democrat little more than a bug to be squashed, especially it would appear to be if that target is a woman, played a reprehensible game in the halls of Congress. Choosing to denigrate Ocasio-Cortez could have turned into a spitting contest, which is exactly what low-grade gasbags with a taste of power seek.
Not this time.
Ocasio-Cortez did a brilliant and laudable job of turning the tables on Yoho, no gentleman and certainly judging by his comments and lack of taking responsibility for his verbal actions, another fat cat old white man insulted and threatened by a powerful woman.
Her speech within the walls of Congress will indeed resonate for a long time, not merely as a political game changer, a social moment of bravery, but also of using the media to her advantage. An eloquent and passionate speech, choosing full sentences instead of juvenile tweets and social media postings.
We live in a world and a society where so many believe there is nothing more important than owning a social media space, posting the most ingenious insult and phony picture on Facebook, snapping off a few targeted lines on Twitter, shoveling heavy-handed bias on You Tube and other platforms. To them, this is the height of their ability to engage in a discourse. It is, of course, nothing more than a discourse of and for the intellectually dull and dim-witted.
What Ocasio-Cortez said in those few minutes will indeed resonate for years. How others use the media will often disappear and dissipate into the mists of history. A history that neither needs nor demands such useless conversation.
Ted Yoho has earned all scorn that comes his way from such an incident. Ocasio-Cortez has earned a “bravo” for incorporating patience, wisdom, and a quiet yet powerful voice.
That is how one uses the media to their advantage, and in the end, emerges victorious.