Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Talks About the New Left at SXSW

AOC
Credit: Bill Nye Twitter

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez sat down with Briahna Gray with The Intercept, to talk about the new left. Ocasio-Cortez is no stranger to the spotlight. She is treated like a rockstar in the world of politics and maybe that is because she is a breath of fresh air for so many who feel marginalized.

Briahna Gray asked Ocasio-Cortez about what she thought about how she has engaged with so many young people. “I think there was a crack in the system. During the primaries I read this line somewhere that people like me shouldn’t/couldn’t run. But then I started to see the surge and movement happen and I was like maybe someone like me can run. I think people can relate to that and are excited about that possibility,” said Ocasio-Cortez

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She said that in the last two months since taking office it’s been really interesting to see how subtle the powerful influences and and interests groups have made their way into the system. “The effort to divide race and class has always been a tool of the rich and powerful. A perfect example of how they have worked is how the Reagan era pitted white working class against black and brown working class to screw us all over. They created welfare reform and is devastated us all and we are struggling because of these systemic things but we are being told that it’s like, Mexicans.”

Hearing Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez talk about the new Green Deal was hopeful. ” We need to go into these black and brown communities and clean them up and give them clean jobs. Once we do that these communities can be sustainable. We can do this while still honoring the coal miners pensions. It doesn’t have to be either or. But most importantly we need to stop just caring about ourselves. WE start to get into this area of what our identity is as a country. We need to be able to have a conversation about race without saying this person or thing is racist.”

Gray asked her to talk about and define democratic socialism, “Right now we are reckoning with putting profit above everything else in society. For me it’s a question of priorities. Democratic socialism isn’t about leaving anything behind, it’s just about not putting capital first. People think that these ideas that used to make us powerful and productive are now so radical and they aren’t. Where we are now is terrible, but now we are so cynical that everyone walks around like “Meh” and ambition is seen as this youthful naivety.”

AOC
Credit: Samantha Burkardt / Getty Images for SXSW

One of the most profound things Ocasio-Cortez said was towards the end when someone asked how she deal with someone who has racist views. Her response,  “I just try to have a conversation with them and try to see where they are coming from. I listen to them and then I explain to them where I am coming from. We will never get anywhere when we just continue to attack one another. One of the best pieces of advice I got a long time ago was to give someone enough room to change their mind gracefully. If they feel attacked they will just double down and then it is all lost.”

The last question of the session came forma special guest that everyone including AOC was excited to see. Bill Nye made a special appearance to ask his question. “I’m a white guy, and I think the problem on both sides is fear. People of my ancestry are afraid to pay for everything as immigrants come into this country. People that works at the diner in Alabama are afraid to ask for what is reasonable. SO do you have a plan to work with people in congress that are afraid? I think that is what is going on with many conservatives, especially when it comes to climate change. People are just afraid of what might happen if we make these big changes.”

Ocasio-Cortez responded, “I think the way we dismantle fear is we get rid of zero sum mentality. It mean the rejection outright of the logic that says my gain must be someone else loss.” She ended by saying, “Making bold moves becomes contagious. The first person that stands up has to deal with the most fear and discomfort but after that person stands up it becomes so much easier for the second, third and fourth person to stand up.When we choose to invest in our system, we are choosing to create wealth.”

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