It’s been a long night. After an interminable State of the Union address from President Trump, and a much better rebuttal from the Democrats via the gifted speaker Stacey Abrams, everyone’s favorite (or least favorite) freshmen Congresswoman went on TV to give her take on the night’s events.
Yet again, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez managed to nail her message, avoiding unnecessary drama to focus on the issues people actually care about.
In these short clips, Ocasio-Cortez hit on an astonishing number of important topics, including children’s deaths in DHS custody and the response to Hurricane Maria.
But her best moment came when she was asked about Trump’s comments on socialism, which he made in the context of talking about the current U.S.-supported coup in Venezuela.
“Here in the United States we are alarmed to hear new calls to accept socialism in our country,” Trump said, clearly referencing Ocasio-Cortez, Sen. Bernie Sanders, and other new Congresspeople who came into office on the back of their support for democratic socialism.
NBC’s anchors asked AOC whether she believed the comment was a dig at her. Rather than answering—she just grinned and calling it a “major coincidence”—she launched into an explanation of what it is about so-called “socialism” that many people find so appealing.
“The vast, vast majority of Americans believe that you should be able to feed your family on 40 hours a week. We believe that health care is a right, that work should be dignified and we believe that all people should be accepted regardless of their race, gender, or ethnicity,” she said.
“At the end of the day, it’s not about an ‘ism,’” she added. “That’s exactly what the president is trying to do. He’s trying to mischaracterize, frame, associate. Because our policies are popular. Because we fight for improved and expanded Medicare for all, which has a 70 percent approval rating, because we believe in at least a $15 minimum wage, because we believe in the labor movement, we believe in the unionization of workers.”
“I think what he’s seeing is that he’s losing the war on the issues, so he’s going to try to go ad hominem, he’s going to call names, he’s going to try to distract. We’re not going to let him do it, we’re going to stay focused on our cause,” she concluded.
She’s right: Medicare for All, raising the minimum wage, taxing the rich... these are all incredibly popular policies. And Republicans, Trump included, are terrified that these ideas will gain so much popularity that they’ll be unable to oppose them. Better call her and her fellow lawmakers scary names before it gets out of hand.
But that’s not going to work either. People are no longer scared of the word “socialism.” In fact, most young people support it over capitalism. The time of Trump and his cronies is coming to a close. And AOC and her colleagues are setting the tone for a new era.