The wisest quote in Spielberg’s Lincoln comes during a discussion between the radical abolitionist Thaddeus Stevens and the equally radical but pragmatic Abraham Lincoln. Before the vote on the 13th Amendment, Stevens intends to stand up before the House of Representatives and declare his resolve to push not just for the abolition of slavery but also for full equality, political representation, and the right to vote for African-Americans.
Personally, Lincoln agrees with Stevens’ ends but hopes to restrain his political strategy saying:
A compass, I learnt when I was surveying, it’ll… it’ll point you True North from where you’re standing, but it’s got no advice about the swamps and desert and chasm that you’ll encounter along the way. If in pursuit of your destination, you plunge ahead, heedless of obstacles, and achieve nothing more than to sink in a swamp… What’s the use of knowing True North?
In the analogy, Lincoln expresses his worry that a push too radical too soon would sink not only Stevens’ more ambitious intentions but so too the achievable goal of abolition. It’s unfortunate but an incremental, pragmatic approach that is guaranteed to work is often preferable in politics to extreme declarations and legislation that threatens to backfire on an entire movement.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is suffering the same unrestrained, radicalism as Thaddeus Stevens. Regardless of the desirability of her planned goals, her extremity threatens to sink her cause before she achieves a single thing. As one example, the Senate struck down her Green New Deal without a single vote in favor of it.
To her credit, Nancy Pelosi has proven to be a shrewd politician much like Lincoln. The New York Times ran a revealing story in April showing that Democratic advocates and adherents on Twitter are both a minority within the party and more progressive than their offline voters. As such, Pelosi speaks for the majority every time she criticizes Ocasio-Cortez. Accordingly, poll numbers show that more Americans have a negative view of Cortez than a positive one.
Cortez would be wise to follow Pelosi’s lead for fear of getting her party mired in a conflict between the party’s progressive wing and their generally moderate voters. Instead, she recently insinuated that Pelosi has opposed freshmen progressives due to racial animus, likely to sink her poll numbers even further. And yet, while Thaddeus’ resolve and beliefs were commendable, Cortez’s socialism threatens to regress any country that adopts it back into slavery. Perhaps it’s best we let Cortez run wild before the next election, hopefully ending her own progressive movement herself.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.