by Patrick Carroll 

In a Bloomberg Op-Ed Noah Smith argues that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s proposal to form a Green New Deal committee suffers from a few dangers–most especially that the committee, once formed, “might choose policies that don’t effectively address the challenges at hand.” He argues that progressive efforts like universal health care and universal basic income ought not be coupled with infrastructure stimuli for fear that the latter has no chance of seeing the light of day if accompanied by other expensive progressive measures. This zero-sum technocratic approach misses the point. In the early aftermath of Trump’s election the text I returned to most was this blog post by the political theorist William E. Connelly, especially this paragraph:

“Fourth, the democratic Left needs to identify more young leaders who are charismatic in noble ways and who can inspire large constituencies as they counter the ugly appeal of Trumpian charisma. For Trump is a charismatic adversary whose critics have not adequately appreciated his rhetorical effectiveness. Apparent wanderings in his speeches—as it seemed to many academics and journalists who ridiculed those speeches in the early going–actually gather together a medley of grievances as they crystallize collective targets of white working class resentment. Each element in the medley becomes fused with the others into a resonance machine. Satires and dissections of the Big Lie Scenario itself are far better than either academic dismissals or factual corrections alone. Formation of a counter-resonance machine with charismatic circuits of its own is better yet.”

What Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, alongside her fellow new radical members of congress, is doing–and doing exceptionally well–is forming a counter-resonance machine with charismatic circuits of its own. Finally! Ocasio-Cortez uses social media in a personal way, with her own distinct voice, without the glossy markers of corporate precision. By means of these charismatic dispatches she is helping build a national-prophetic resonance-machine of climate action. The managerial Noah Smith cavils, as he will–and I am not the one to argue, necessarily, with his realpolitik–but to pretend as though Ocasio-Cortez’s visionary, resonant, media-savvy maneuvers are anything but deeply helpful to the progressive cause at this juncture is fallacious.