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Has Fox’s Fear-Mongering Against Ocasio-Cortez Gone Too Far?

Right-wing outlets and politicians are at a loss for how to discredit Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s common-sense platform

From right, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and James Thompson, a Kansas House candidate, at a campaign event for Thompson in Wichita on Friday, July 20, 2018. Less than four weeks after scoring a stunning upset in a Democratic House primary in New York, Ocasio-Cortez stepped out onto the national campaign stage for the first time to take her message to the heartland. (Hilary Swift/The New York Times)

From right, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and James Thompson, a Kansas House candidate, at a campaign event for Thompson in Wichita on Friday, July 20th, 2018.

HILWAY SWIFT/The New York Times/

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez shocked the Democratic establishment in June when she defeated 10-term incumbent Joe Crowley in the party’s primary for New York’s 14th district. The 28-year-old newcomer ran a grassroots campaign on a relatively simple platform. She called for universal healthcare. She called for fully funded public universities. She called for a federal jobs guarantee. Taken at face value, these are practical, common-sense measures. They also happen to be among the core tenets of Democratic Socialism, a perceived dirty phrase that Republicans and establishment Democrats have weaponized to throw dirt on Ocasio-Cortez and others like her.

The latest round of attacks has come in the wake of Ocasio-Cortez’s recent trip to Kansas, where alongside Bernie Sanders she stumped for progressive congressional candidates ahead of the state’s August 7th primary. While speaking to a crowd in Wichita on Friday, Ocasio-Cortez touted a few of her policies, which at their core revolve around providing working-class Americans with an opportunity to lead healthy, happy lives that aren’t weighed down by crippling medical bills or student loans. Republicans were requisitely horrified.

Suggesting that Americans are paid “a living wage” so they can lead “dignified” lives is, to Fox, evidence of an out-of-control Democratic party. The Daily Caller feels similarly. On Monday, one of its reporters published an account of their trip to see Ocasio-Cortez speak in Kansas. Here’s an excerpt:

But then Ocasio-Cortez spoke, followed by Bush, and I saw something truly terrifying. I saw just how easy it would be, were I less involved and less certain of our nation’s founding and its history, to fall for the populist lines they were shouting from that stage.

  • I saw how easy it would be, as a parent, to accept the idea that my children deserve healthcare and education.
  • I saw how easy it would be, as someone who has struggled to make ends meet, to accept the idea that a “living wage” was a human right.
  • Above all, I saw how easy it would be to accept the notion that it was the government’s job to make sure that those things were provided.

Fox News naturally invited the writer on to recount her experience inside this socialist heart of darkness.

“I was listening to them talk – to Ocasio-Cortez and also to Cori Bush, who she was stumping for in St. Louis – and they say things, they talk about things that everybody wants, especially if you’re a parent,” the writer said. “They talk about education for your kids. They talk about health care for you kids. The things that you want. If you’re not really paying attention to how they’re going to pay for it or the rest of that, it’s easy to fall into that trap and to say, ‘My kids deserve this,’ and, ‘Maybe the government should be responsible for helping me with that.'”

Once again, this person was not attempting to promote Ocasio-Cortez.

“I was mostly uncomfortable,” she continued. “I was surrounded by a group of people who had gotten involved because they were tired of being angry all the time. It seems like so much effort to be angry about everything instead of focusing on what you could do to change it. It was really uncomfortable.”

To be sure, this person was attempting to argue against Ocasio-Cortez.

For politicians, it can be difficult to stand in front of a crowd of supporters and pick apart Ocasio-Cortez’s platform for what it actually is. This has led her opponents to lean all their weight against the -ism to which she attaches herself, feebly pointing at countries like Venezuela as an example of where socialism has failed, or to attack Ocasio-Cortez personally. On Friday, Florida Rep. Ron DeSantis, a favorite of President Trump who is currently running for governor, checked off both boxes. “You look at this girl, Ocasio-Cortez, or whatever she is. I mean, she’s in a totally different universe,” he told supporters, who laughed along with him. “It’s basically socialism wrapped in ignorance. And it’s problematic.”

Ocasio-Cortez fired back on Monday.

Though the right and many on the center-left have painted Ocasio-Cortez’s platform as radical, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that it’s actually pretty damn popular, especially among Democratic voters. Medicare-for-all is supported by a majority of Americans, including those residing in Midwest swing states. A 2016 poll found that two-thirds of Americans support free college tuition, especially for low-income families. Maybe the most extreme part of Ocasio-Cortez’s platform is the federal jobs guarantee, but a poll from April found that it’s supported by nearly half of all Americans. These ideas are only gaining steam, which is one of the reasons why those on the right feel so threatened by them. But as Republicans twist themselves in knots trying to decry socialism, Ocasio-Cortez seems plenty content to sit back and watch Fox News broadcast her ideals.

Bashing dignity to own the libs.

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