Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Talks Democratic Socialism | AJ+


I don’t believe that in a moral and wealthy America, people should be too poor to live. How are you feeling?
Can you put it into words? Nope. I cannot put this into words. You are from the Bronx, born and raised. You actually represent and live in the community that you hope to represent in Congress, when
we see all too often Congress members not even living in their district, like
your opponent. What does it mean for you to have effective representation like that? There’s been so many, especially working-class people in the Bronx that
are so excited. I went to my bodega last night and people were just excited and
clapping. I think it just means a lot to be seen and to feel seen and to feel
like one of you, a representative from your community that cares, that stays
there, has a voice in what’s going on. Most of your fundraising was small
donations and you refused to take corporate PAC money. Why was that so
important to you? I wanted to be a 100% accountable representative to my
community. I believe that the role of money in politics is really degrading
our democracy and hurting our ability to have effective government. There’s a lot
you can do without money. You can knock on your neighbor’s door without money.
You can make phone calls without money. And that’s just what we did for a really,
really long time. As this race goes on to the midterms, do you see a scenario where you’re going to have to start taking corporate money? And would you do it? I won’t. I am totally fine working with political organizations, but the
line that I want to draw is pretending that I am neutral in policymaking when
I’m taking money from one side that has a vested, for-profit interest. You’re running on a “Medicare-for-All,” free public college, a
federal jobs guarantee. Which is the top priority for you and how are you going to
pay for this? That’s always a question, “How are you gonna pay for it?” War is very expensive too and we never ask about that. We only ask how we’re gonna pay for
things when we’re talking about taking care of people. The GOP tax cut costs the United States $400 billion. You know what you could have done with $400 billion? You could have forgiven
every single federal student loan debt in America. That’s what you could have
done with $400 billion. We want improved and expanded “Medicare for all.” We want tuiton-free public colleges and trade schools. We want a green new
deal to address climate change. I’m an idealist in my goals, I’m an idealist in
my vision, and I’m very pragmatic about how I get there. I don’t believe that in
a moral and wealthy America, people should be too poor to live. I find that
to be an unacceptable state – that you can be too poor to see a doctor, that you can be
too poor to send your child to the school that actually gives them options
for their future. And I want to live in a society that does not fail people’s most
basic needs to live. And so that for me, it’s about dignity. You call for the abolishment of ICE, and I think a lot of people forget that ICE hasn’t really been around all that long. It was born
out of the so-called War on Terror. It’s been around since 2003, only. But what do you see as a replacement for ICE? I think that immigration should be safe. I think that we should grant people a safe and documented rite of passage. Republicans
try all these scare tactics and they go, “Oh, open borders!” Because they’re trying to incite fear. But what we really need to do is demilitarize a lot of
what’s going on in terms of the detention of people, which has been
happening for a very long time, by the way. And so I think that when we
talk about replacing it with a system, when you talk about really having a
system that is safe, that documents people effectively, that is also not
rooted in the discrimination that our immigration system was initially built
on. The first immigration law in the United States was the Chinese Exclusion
Act. The first law about immigration in the United States was, “How do we exclude a specific type of people?” And our immigration system has really kind of
evolved from that initial root, and I don’t think it necessarily has to
be that way. Days before your election you left New York and you went down to the southern border to protest these family separations that we’re seeing and
you said the moral character of our nation is on the line. Right now, the nation that we are living in is a country that, an administration,
that has committed international human rights abuses by separating children from their parents. That is being done in our name. Once something that extreme happens, we have to act immediately. Do you see any parallels between the Muslim ban and what’s going on on the border right now? Absolutely, absolutely. What the administration is doing is racializing
the fight over immigration and that is kind of stoking an increased sense of
bigotry in the country. And so there’s absolutely a connection. And that is why
I think we have to be in solidarity with each other. You’ve been outspoken in your
support for Palestinian human rights, which some would say is political
suicide for a New York politician, very uncommon for someone in Congress or
running for Congress. You called Israel’s response to peaceful protesters in Gaza a “massacre” in a tweet. Why was it so easy for you to see it that way? It’s just not about nationality. It’s about people who are unarmed who are killed.
If 60 people were shot and killed in Ferguson, if 60 people were shot and
killed in Puerto Rico, if 60 people were shot and killed in the South Bronx. It’s tragic. It’s tragic. You’re speaking directly to
working class folks. Do you think your message and yourself appeals to Trump supporters? Just because I may be aghast at the way that somebody voted, doesn’t mean that I’m going to permanently dismiss them. I’m a woman of color that
comes from a working-class, sometimes even poor background depending on the
year. And a vote for Donald Trump, a lot of times I could take it as a personal
rebuke of everything that I am, but I just cannot give in to that
because I still believe that there’s a lot of people that could be won over on
that agenda, on my agenda. Do you think we can talk about class without talking about race, and talk about race without talking about class? No, no. There’s this
false notion that you can separate these two issues, there’s a false notion that
you have to pick one or another, and it is patently false. This is the United
States of America. We have to confront our history. We founded our nation on an
economic system of slavery. That has evolved to Jim Crow laws. It evolved
into mass incarceration. There is no economic issue in the United States that
does not have racial implications and vice versa. You look at issues like
immigration, you look at issues like criminal justice reform, private prisons.
They all have economic implications. And the idea of saying, “Oh, we need to talk
about class and not race,” is to also erase the identity of many people. It’s not like only one class, creed, religion of person is working class. So it’s clearly a dark time for a lot of people in the country, especially young
progressives who have just been seeing you know a lot of doom and gloom since
Donald Trump was elected president. What do you say to young people to give
them hope and to get them engaged? Wherever there is a fight, there is hope.
When people stop fighting, that is when hope ends. And I think that’s what we proved on Tuesday, that no matter the odds, change
is possible in America and that our nation is never beyond repair.

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