AOC's Rolling Stone interview: portrait of a principled, shrewd, brilliant activist/politician

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's Rolling Stone interview with Alex Morris paints a portrait of a politician and activist whose brilliance as a tactician is matched by an unwavering, uncompromising commitment to principle.

Whether talking about media strategy, theories of political change, the institutional structure of the two major US political parties, or the role demographics play in political consciousness, AOC reveals herself to be both entirely premeditated, working according to a well-developed internal playbook; and entirely motivated by a well-articulated principle.

Plenty of politicians are good orators and good horse-traders, but AOC is playing a much bigger game here, not merely angling for power-for-its-own-sake, or carrying water for corporate paymasters, or showing off her debate skills: she's trying to change the entire political system, having recognized both the urgency and potential of our current political moment. She is keenly aware of the limitations of a freshman Member of Congress, but she's also aware that those limitations are grossly overestimated by the political establishment, who imagines that the freshman arrival in Congress is constrained by a need to forge alliances with the establishment as the opening act of a lucrative life in the political-industrial complex. AOC doesn't want to make friends, she's come to Congress to kick ass and chew bubble-gum, and she's fresh out of etc etc.

If you doubt it for a moment, just compare her performance at yesterday's Michael Cohen hearing with those of her compatriots on both sides of the aisle -- while others merely politically grandstanded, AOC got new and devastating facts into the record, while still producing material perfectly tailored for sharing and repeating. She's so, so good at this.

How much of what you’re talking about is trying to move the Overton window [the range of ideas accepted in public discourse] so that Democrats can compete with the way Republicans have moved it?

A huge part of my agenda is to move the Overton window, because it’s a strategic position. I’m a first-term freshman in an institution that works by seniority. Procedurally, it is kind of like high school. You’re the new kid on the block. So, as a freshman, you have to look at the tools available to you, and in my first term, if we have the opportunity to frame the debate, then that is one of the ways to have the most power. If I’m here for four days, then the most powerful thing I can do is to create a national debate on marginal tax rates on the rich.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Wants the Country to Think Big [Alex Morris/Rolling Stone]