What exactly are the right qualifications for higher office? There's no set list of prerequisites one must check off before running. There seems to be a general consensus that certain types of expertise help.
Many politicians have law degrees. This makes sense, as the purpose of Congress is ostensibly to pass laws. That said, a legal background seems to be regarded as less of a necessity than it used to be. And, one need not know the intricacies of the law to know which policies one favors.
Previous political experience also helps: it's generally assumed that the best qualification for higher office is time spent in lower office, though some, like our current President, have managed to bypass that tedious process.
Military service has always inclined the electorate to regard one favorably. A willingness to put one's life on the line for one's country presupposes a certain self-sacrificing patriotism and nobility, qualities which will theoretically not desert one once in taken office. (Though the list of former military people who've been tempted to cash in -- last exemplified by Ryan Zinke -- is a long one.)
Being successful at one's previous occupations is a plus: an electorate will generally assume that such implies future success as a legislator. This generally mean more in a primary than in a general election, where most people just opt for whoever will be a reliable vote for their side. (How many people do you know who've voted for the opposing party's candidate simply because he had a more impressive resume?)
Then there's the "charisma" factor: is someone good-looking, and does he have a pleasing voice?
Finally, does the candidate have the right ethnicity for his electorate? People do like to vote for their own. (The one notable exception here is white people, some of whom see the opportunity to signal virtue even in a voting booth.)
Trump, if he lacked for legal, military, and political experience, did not lack for life experience. And even if he failed in more businesses than he succeeded at, he ended up wealthy. And the case can be made that anyone who has successfully negotiated the incredible sharp-elbowed worlds of real estate and television is ready to take on anyone.
In fact, Trump's Presidency might be characterized as that of a man who's not only willing to take on anybody, but actually wants to take on everybody. At the same time. For better or worse.
This brings us to another politician who's received an inordinate amount of press.
Spending five years waitressing and bartending generally isn't generally considered the ideal background for a legislator. Nonetheless, an ebullient young woman from the Bronx was recently elected on the strength -- or, at least, despite the weakness -- of that resume. But, she was the right ethnicity for her district, and she is comely. Those two attributes, in the eyes of Bronx voters, outweighed the obvious holes in her skimpy resume.
The idea that the US could afford such giveaways with people streaming across our southern border seems a bit unrealistic. If her plan were actually put into effect, our population (currently 325 million) would exceed a billion in very short order. When you propose unlimited goodies for an unlimited number of people, the numbers don't add up.
Who knows, maybe one night a few years ago she scribbled some magical formula on the back of a cocktail napkin which somehow makes those numbers work. But it seems unlikely.
Certainly, no one in the press seems in the least inclined to explore the question of her qualifications, or her numeracy. In fact, their "You go girl!" attitude implies that she will be the savior of our nation.
It's probably safe to say that no one since Trump himself has received such outsized media attention. This disproportionate attention, like her candidacy, seems to be largely a result of her looks. Though whenever I see a picture of her, I'm usually struck by the size of her mouth --
-- which seems metaphorically apt.
When she decides to run for even higher office, she won't suffer from lack of name recognition. And by then she'll be able to say she's had experience on the House Banking Committee.
Ocasio-Cortez will turn 30 in October. By then she'll have a little bit more life experience. Admittedly, "life experience" is often just another word for "old." But will AOC's experience on the Banking Committee make her more numerate?
As far as her supporters are concerned, it probably doesn't make any difference.
In the meantime, she does seem to be suffering from overexposure, which she has done her best to encourage. And it's hard not to escape the feeling that the amount of (mostly) uncritical attention she has received so far will eventually backfire.
She has already started to receive criticism from those in her own party, and she hasn't been at all reluctant to lash back.
She's actually not unlike Trump in her brashness, outspokenness, willingness to pick fights, and complete confidence in her own righteousness.
The difference is that before he came to office, Trump dealt with movers and shakers in real estate, television, the garment industry, airlines, banking, and sports. He's negotiated with labor unions, foreign governments, politicians, and probably even the Mafia (he was in the New York real estate business). So he has a pretty good sense of how to deal with politicians.
AOC, by contrast, is really only qualified to fetch them drinks.