AOC vs. Boebert: Addressing the Hollow at the Heart of Trumpism

Fashion sometimes carries a louder unspoken message. From Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s (D-N.Y.) “Tax The Rich” dress at the 2021 Met Gala, to Rep. Lauren Boebert’s (R-Colo.) “Let’s Go Brandon” dress at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago, just what are these women trying to say?  

Ocasio-Cortez supports taxing the rich as a matter of policy—to help pay for an expanded social safety net in America. Per AOC, “The time is now for childcare, healthcare, and climate action for all. Tax the Rich.” As Congress debates sweeping reforms through the Build Back Better bill, she took the opportunity to advocate without speaking a word. 

According to Boebert about her own dress, “It’s not a phrase, it’s a movement!” But a movement for what? “Let’s Go Brandon” is a euphemism for “F*** Joe Biden.” How does that help anyone other than bumper sticker and button salespeople? 

On the coattails of Melania Trump’s jacket—emblazoned with “I Really Don’t Care, Do U?”—the Trumpist message seems to be whatever gets attention and supposedly makes liberals mad. There’s no substance to their style: no policy agenda or plans to make America greater—just trolling, fame seeking and self-enrichment.

Former President Trump ran on the idea of making America great again, but he never delivered on those promises. He spent years promising to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act with a new better healthcare plan. The legislative fights of 2017 revealed the emperor had no clothes—there was no Republican healthcare plan despite a decade of fighting the ACA. And there still is no plan today, because the GOP doesn’t offer solutions, only attacks.  

Reps. Boebert and Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) voted against reauthorizing the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP) earlier this year. This program helps match cancer patients and others needing a bone marrow transplant with matching donors. The NMDP saves lives—including people I know. People like me. But these Republican members of Congress chose to perform to an angry MAGA crowd instead of supporting or writing their own legislation that would benefit others. 

Congress just passed the bipartisan infrastructure bill, which will spend billions on new roads and bridges and other infrastructure in America, creating millions of new jobs and truly making America stronger. Yet only 13 Republicans in the House voted for this.  

The Trump White House pushed “infrastructure week” endlessly throughout his four years in office, but never produced anything concrete. It took a Democratic president and Congress to move policy that would benefit millions of Americans. And the popular human infrastructure bill, Build Back Better, before the Senate now has no Republican support.

Trumpism is hollow at its core. It’s organized around defining and attacking the enemy, pitting Americans against each other in hate instead of offering and delivering on a better future. 

The world around us is getting ever more complicated and scary—from extreme weather events like hurricanes, flooding and wildfires driven by climate change, to global pandemics, the rising cost of everyday goods and housing, healthcare, things everyone needs. This struggle is set against the backdrop of the loss of millions of good paying blue collar and manufacturing jobs in America over the past several decades. Billionaires get richer, and the rest of us get to watch, our faces pressed against the pane of glass. The inequity and crisis after crisis fuels fear, and fear needs a place to go. 

What did Trump do in his four years in office, besides fan the flames of hatred? The only concrete legislative accomplishment was the Trump tax plan, which gave yet more tax breaks to the rich. What grand proposals do the new Trumpist Congress members propose? Anything at all? 

Their agenda is nothing more than an empty suit, dressed up in hate. 

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Laura Packard is a stage 4 cancer survivor and healthcare advocate, executive director of Health Care Voter, and founder of Health Care Voices, a non-profit grassroots organization for adults with serious medical conditions. Follow @lpackard on Twitter.