Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-Bronx/Queens) speaks on the House floor in...

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-Bronx/Queens) speaks on the House floor in July. Credit: House Television via AP

No matter how things may appear, social-media stardom and internet videos cannot defy the low-tech laws of political gravity and elected power.

Two years ago, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-Bronx/Queens), a fresh face in politics, sprang up from the left of veteran Rep. Joe Crowley to beat him in a primary. With a storm of social-media exposure, she became nationally famous, in part as a pro-Bernie Sanders agitator in party ranks.

In the drive to boot President Donald Trump from the White House, she eventually supported Joe Biden's candidacy. Still a newbie icon and brand name of the party's left, AOC, as she is known, lost her bid last week for a spot on the key House Energy and Commerce Committee to Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-Garden City), who herself once resisted re-upping Nancy Pelosi as speaker. Ocasio-Cortez's statements on the "Green New Deal" and other issues make her a tactical target for right-wing media.

In Georgia, on the opposite end of the political spectrum, Marjorie Taylor Greene was elected last month as a new Republican member of the House. She's a full subscriber to the QAnon craze, which poses wild conspiracy tales that idolize Trump as an imagined combatant against pedophilic "deep staters." Only our current technology could have popularized this version of science fiction so quickly.

In old videos that emerged earlier this year, Taylor Greene shared arguably racist, Islamophobic and anti-Semitic sentiments. With the GOP in the minority in the House, there is the open question of how much clout she might wield down the road, and what she could accomplish tangibly for her district, a question that arises sooner or later.

Significantly, Taylor Greene's district leans so heavily Republican that in 2016, Trump received more than 75% of the vote there. Consider the parallel: Ocasio-Cortez's district is so overwhelmingly Democratic that she got 75% of the vote there last month. That's why it is easier to convince a web audience than their home communities that either of these lawmakers is controversial.

Divisions by region, party and demographics held firm in the latest election. Biden, though he won the national contest, did not pick up the deepest-red regions, of course, and Trump's four-year incumbency failed to convert Democratic strongholds. No matter who had a stronger web profile, AOC, a self-declared socialist, could not win where the far right is ascendant, and Taylor Greene could expect to be laughed out of New York City if she ever ran there.

No president has been as internet-famous or devoted to Twitter as Trump. Still, he managed the rare feat of losing reelection due to what he did and did not do in office. His made-up accusations, which went viral worldwide, may have corroded public dialogue and also failed to keep him in the White House. Facts and democracy still exist separately from page views, retweets and number of followers.


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