I’ve got a bunch of unpopular opinions right now—at least it you’re a Democrat. It’s probably time I took a little abuse from my side of the aisle, so here goes. 

First, I think Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez should listen more and talk less. She’s a very talented politician and communicator who could be a leader in the Democratic Party for a long time. However, she also likes to hear herself talk and what she says is often wrong. She tends to make sweeping statements full of exaggerations and inaccuracies. Even before she was in office but was the Democratic nominee, she said things like, “Everybody is working two jobs,” a claim that is demonstrably not true

Ocasio-Cortez showed smarts when she interviewed Michael Cohen, asking astute questions about Trump’s relationship with National Enquirer CEO and the president’s lying about the value of assets. However, she looked dogmatic and reaching when she tried to tie Wells Fargo to Trump’s policy of caging children. It was a reach at best but Ocasio-Cortez wasted her time trying to make a point instead of grilling a big bank that needs far more accountability for a lot of bad behavior.

I could make similar criticisms of Rep. Ilhan Omar. Her criticisms of Jews in America certainly sounded like antisemitism. She has every right to criticize Israeli policies but she can’t make blanket statements like support for Israel is “all about the Benjamins,” especially given the stereotypes it evokes.  Her implication that supporters of Israel were showing “allegiance to a foreign country” sound suspiciously like right-wing critics of John F. Kennedy who accused him of allegiance to Vatican because of his Catholicism.  

Both women bring much needed perspectives to Congress. However, they’ll be far more effective if they can build broad alliances instead of just getting cheers from the base. Al Franken and Hillary Clinton should serve as examples. Both entered the Senate with high profiles. Instead of using their celebrity to get attention for pet causes, they stayed remarkably quiet during their first few years in office, working to build relationships and gaining respect of their fellow Senators. They became far more effective because they did. 

Now, my other unpopular opinion is that Republicans in the North Carolina House and Senate get credit for teacher pay reaching 29thin the nation and 2ndhighest in the Southeast. I’ll also say it’s about time and it’s not time to rest on their laurels. We should continue to improve, but have significantly boosted pay. That’s not to say that their education policies overall are great, but on that one score, they get credit for progress. Our schools are still woefully underfunded and their privatization plan is leading to re-segregation. 

I probably have a few more unpopular opinions but those are good for today.   

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