I have to delete Instagram on my iPhone regularly. It’s too much of a distraction. A few days later I usually re-download the distraction vortex back onto my very own mark of the beast. Accordingly, I was on Instagram yesterday and serendipitously drawn into the room of AOC. No, not the Australian Olympic Committee, but instead into the home of my favorite New York congressperson, Alexandria-OC.
There are a few articles floating down the content river about her outlandish claims like, the world is going to end in 12 years if we don’t do something about climate change, or the total cessation of fossil fuels is an absolute must, or my favorite: “Unemployment is low because people are working 60, 70, 80 hours a week and can barely feed their kids.” How many kids do these people have?
Last night, while watching the AOC charade, the phrases that really frustrated me were her complaints about having to work hard as a representative, and not having excess time for recreation. Excuse me, Madame, you are a member of the United States House of Representatives. Congress. The legislative arm of the most powerful nation on the earth. You are involved in drafting laws that will affect hundreds of millions of people, and subsequently influence the world. I surely hope you aren’t doing an easy 40, and then binge drinking through Yankees games like your constituents.
Hard work, yes, even painful, grueling, hard work is not a curse word. It is part of the human condition. Hard work generally comes with a reward—even if delayed. Hard work is a function that can bring value to the individual, protection to family, and security to the state. Hard work—rightly conceived—is a gift that should be cared for and protected, even by knowing when to lay it down and let the land rest in season.
Integral disdain for hard work and free markets is part of the identity-cocktail of the left, and while AOC takes swigs of that draught, it certainly didn’t start with her. One of Karl Marx’s famous quotes has to do with meandering from economic position to position as the muse leads you, never to be cast in a certain mold, but to be free from the oppression of anything grueling:
“… in Communist society, where nobody has one exclusive sphere of activity but each can become accomplished in any branch he wishes, society regulates the general production and thus makes it possible for me to do one thing today and another tomorrow, to hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening, criticise after dinner, just as I have a mind, without ever becoming hunter, fisherman, herdsman or critic.”
A professor, after reading the quote, said to me: “Imagine hiking through the mountains in the morning, doing some light construction in the afternoon, and writing poetry in the evening—capitalists would never allow that.” The narrative that if the socialists led the charge, we’d all have three-hour french lunches, free health care, and an evening with cocktails and dancing is simply our generations ‘bread and carnival.’
The political prose tells us there are only chains in hard work and the discipline of an individual field, and conversely, real freedom comes from commercial wandering. But that’s historically inaccurate. While Marx may have had in mind the slavery of the widget factory, and conceived that his ideology would bring freedom, Marxism, instead brought the most soul-crushing uniformity, mountains of work, and the extinguishing of creativity of which the world had never before seen. In the search for freedom, they became slaves. In search of rest, they became restless. In search of equality, they became equally destitute—except, of course, for their new oppressors.
The promise of fishing in the morning and being a literary critic in the afternoon sounds fun, but to become a great fisherman takes many painful hours of waiting for a stupid-idiot fish to bite, and to be a great literary critic takes hundreds of hours of writing, re-writing, and editing before anyone wants to read your criticism. To excel in any field you must travel through the doldrums of plain old hard work. If you hold the dream of excelling in a particular arena for fame or reward, you have to walk through the tough places. The way to make it is to be driven by a compelling vision, i.e. the pursuit of happiness.
That’s why the pursuit of happiness is so central to our governmental form, that’s why it’s built in. We must have the protection of life to start, maximization of liberty to walk freely, and finally, a vision to work hard at pursuing. Hard work is vital to our political corpus; if we disdain it, how will we rise?
To make a better America we must work hard, but working hard only takes place if there is incentive. Perhaps when our friend AOC was elected, she attained the incentive, she got the fame, she landed the salary. From bartender to making 170k per year; from unknown to political sweetheart—what’s left? Maybe to create a hobgoblin of a world-ending crisis to resolve. But, maybe that’s why she doesn’t really want to work that hard, because, at the end of the day (figuratively and literally) she just doesn’t believe in the goblin. If we actually believed the world was ending in 12 years because of cars using gas, how then would we behave?
Frankly, I like AOC, and I hope she turns out alt-right all-right when she grows up. But, someone will have to let her know, grown-ups work hard.