Ocasio-Cortez: The recklessness of the Twitter rallying cry

Owen Meech

Instead of doing mental gymnastics to justify a double standard, let’s just call a spade a spade: Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) has proven herself to be a reckless and dangerous voice on Twitter.

Long before the 2016 presidential election, Donald Trump began facing regular accusations of inciting hatred and violence, both during his campaign rallies and on his now infamous Twitter account.

While some of the allegations are more credible than others (i.e. offering to cover legal fees for “knock[ing] the crap out of” possible hecklers at his final pre-Iowa caucus rally in 2016), the bottom line remains. The president has an unspoken responsibility to behave respectfully, and the words of the president matter.

The same standard of civil discourse must be upheld by all of our elected officials, but instead we are experiencing a radical decline of acceptable rhetoric.

Ocasio-Cortez has dominated the Democratic conversation on Twitter since her rise to prominence in 2018. She now possesses more followers than Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, garnering more likes and retweets in the last month than former president Barack Obama, as well as CNN, ABC, The New York Times, MSNBC, The Hill and NBC News, according to Axios.

Like Trump, Ocasio-Cortez figured out the art of direct engagement, bypassing the media to build her base. But with power and influence comes an increased responsibility – a responsibility Ocasio-Cortez ignored by inserting herself into a war of words last week on social media.

On Jan. 20, rapper Cardi B and conservative pundit Tomi Lahren erupted in a Twitter feud about the necessity of Trump’s border wall.

In response to a video posted by Cardi B in which she detailed her disapproval of the government shutdown, Lahren tweeted, “Looks like @iamcardib is the latest genius political mind to endorse the Democrats. HA! Keep it up, guys! #MAGA2020.”

Cardi B fired back on Twitter, “Leave me alone I will dog walk you.”

For those who don’t know, a “Dog Walk” occurs “When you’re beating someone’s ass and you’re dragging them as if you were walking a dog,” according to Urban Dictionary.

As the tensions continued to flare, Lahren called Cardi B “moronic” while Cardi B labeled Lahren a “racist” and a “sheep.”

Against her better judgment, Ocasio-Cortez responded to Cardi B’s final tweet, writing “Why do people think they can mess with Bronx women without getting roasted? They act as though our borough hasn’t been perfecting the clapback game since the Sugarhill Gang. Y’all just found it on Twitter.”

For the woman who told Anderson Cooper earlier this month on “60 Minutes” it’s more important to be “morally right” than “factually correct,” Ocasio-Cortez may want to investigate the morality of condoning and inciting violence via social media.

There should be zero-tolerance for elected officials involving themselves in the latest celebrity beef, especially in a way that promotes conversation and debate that devolves to name-calling and promises of physical harm.

In the past, Ocasio-Cortez has been quick to call out President Trump and his base for encouraging violence, particularly on Twitter. Given her vigorous disapproval of the current president, one would think the freshman congresswoman would be more self-aware of the magnitude of her own words.

Ocasio-Cortez’s mishap comes just a few weeks after stirring up controversy with Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA), when some of her 2.6 million Twitter followers targeted the House Majority Whip in a series of egregious responses to their brief spar on the social media platform regarding marginal tax rates.

Scalise, who was the victim of political violence during the 2017 shooting at the Republican practice for the Congressional Baseball Game, faced responses from Ocasio-Cortez’s followers with hundreds of Twitter likes such as “snipe his ass” and “kick his cane.”

And we can’t forget that in December 2018, Ocasio-Cortez basically threatened to subpoena Donald Trump Jr., a private citizen, as retaliation for sharing a meme mocking her on Twitter.

“I have noticed that Junior here has a habit of posting nonsense about me whenever the Mueller investigation heats up,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted. “Please keep it coming Jr – it’s definitely a ‘very, very large brain’ idea to troll a member of a body that will have subpoena power in a month. Have fun!”

Call me crazy, but warning to possibly use your government power as a means of personal vendetta sounds a little fascist, don’t you think?

Trump’s detractors rightfully despise how Trump can sometimes get unfocused or become dicey with the facts. Even more so, they hate how sporadically careless Trump can get on Twitter.

The radio silence for Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez exhibiting the exact same behavior must be called out.

So as we plug along toward another potential government shutdown, let’s demand our elected leaders spend a little less time on Twitter and devote their energy toward coming to the table and doing their job.