April 22, 2024

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez - Bringing Moral Courage to American Politics | The Daily Show

Published June 11, 2023, 10:20 p.m. by Naomi Charles

Congressional candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez explains how democratic socialism can help America and doubles down on her commitment to refuse corporate political donations.

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my guest tonight is the 28 year old

progressive activist who defeated a

10:00 term congressman in the Democratic

primary for New York's 14th

congressional district

please welcome House Democratic nominee

Alexandria Acacio Claire


welcome to the show

thank you congratulations on being the

nominee and more importantly

congratulations from being both the

dream of half the country and a

nightmare of another half I'll take you

you seem like you have been taking it

the term democratic socialist has never

felt like it has more weights to it then

now we hear your name on the news every

single day when you use that term what

do you want people to understand by it

well I think what I want people to

understand is that we live in a society

that is capable we are capable of

ensuring that we have basic frameworks

where people can be covered by health

insurance can send their kids to college

where we can pursue a very bold action

on climate change and save our future

and that it is part of a moral and

ethical economy and that we can

legislate from that value and where it

is possible I believe we are morally

obliged to pursue it right now when you

when you speak about that it seems like

a logical idea for a politician to have

in America the way you are framed the

way you are framed is oftentimes the

crazy socialist who wants to turn

America into Venezuela into Cuba now

what I find interesting is you know when

I think of ideas of socialism I go okay

there's maybe Venezuela and there's Cuba

and then I go but then there's also no

way and Denmark

do you think there's a there's a

branding disconnect connecting America

between some of these policy ideas

between generations maybe well between

generations I absolutely think so I

think us as Millennials we grew up in a

time we grew we came of age in a time of

9/11 happened in middle school right the

financial crisis happened in college we

have never really known or grown up in a

time of true economic prosperity in the

United States we came of age in a time

of hyper concentration of wealth with

the very tippy top of people in in the

country and the world right and so for

us to have access we also grew up seeing

our peers in other countries it like in

the UK and Canada with

we'll pay our healthcare systems we grew

up with peers being able to go to

college without you know graduating with

a mortgages worth of debt and we we know

that economically there's a better way

because it has already been done right

when when you get spoken about and this

has been interesting it's been a

conversation that I haven't just heard

from Republicans which you would expect

but I've noticed some establishment

Democrats who have come out and said oh

I've seen the young lady

Acacio Cortez say the things she says

but it's a little unrealistic you know

she has to be a bit more realistic to

move things forward do you think that

when you move into Congress if you were

to win that seats would you be in a

position where you would have to augment

your views or do you think that you

would come to an impasse with other

Democrats well I think I often say in

terms of my style

I'm very idealistic and optimistic about

my values and my goals and where I think

we should head but I'm very pragmatic

and how we head there and so I think

that I'm willing to work with folks in

the direction that I think we need to

head and so I'm not a take-no-prisoners

kind of person as much as Fox News and

all of these folks want me to want to

portray me as but I think it's it's

about getting to where we need to be you

know and and that made mean some

spirited conversation within the party

but that doesn't mean we can't I really

do believe that we have a much longer

path to travel together than one that

then before we travel apart when you

look at ideas you have like supporting a

minimum wage you were very pro the idea

of people earning enough to make a

living yeah right shocking crazy ideas

but but then there are those who say

look I I agree with you but how do you

pay for this how do you make it

economically feasible there there are

some who argue and say I hear what

you're saying miss Cortes and I'm with

you but a $15 minimum wage may stifle

economic growth

well first we see for example studies in

the City of Seattle that have

implemented $15 minimum wage show that

that is not the case secondly one of the

big biggest problems that we have is 200

million Americans may

less than $20,000 a year that's 40% of

this country and how can we have an

economy that grows how can we build

wealth as an economy if a large

plurality of Americans are too poor to

participate in it

raising the living the minimum wage to a

living wage will expand our economy it

will create wealth in our economy and it

will increase economic activity in this

country so for those that say it's

unrealistic this that and the other it

comes back to money in politics who's

financing your campaign right and are

the folks financing your campaign are

the private equity groups financing your

campaign it's not a coincidence that

they profit off of low wages do you

worry that when you get into the halls

of Congress that you may become infected

by that money and the reason I ask this

is because I've seen many politicians

who start out with beautiful ideals and

once they get into the Machine they'll

tell you that from the inside it's so

different you you have to get money from

big corporations and you have to start

working with business do you worry that

maybe your ideals will be met with

reality once you get to to the Capitol

well I I think that what makes our

campaign and my candidacy a little

different is that I have taken a public

pledge not to accept any corporate PAC

money whatsoever

we are now starting to see a movement in

Congress I think there's about eight

eight members of Congress I believe

they're all Democrats that have accepted

that pledge but I actually think I may

be one of the only ones that actually

got elected for the first time on that

many many folks got elected with some

corporate money and then they swore it

off after but I think I'm one of the

first to get elected right out of the

gate without any corporate PAC money

which gives me I believe a very large

degree of Independence I am a little you

know I am a little afraid because I know

of the I know that the culture of

Congress is one that I think the

majority of Americans are just

exasperated with right right right and

in to a certain extent you have to be

kind of an emissary and that there are

ways that you get things done and

there's the implication that you need to

get committee assignments by purchasing

them through fundraising and all of that

and I think it's one of those things

where you know I think first of all I

got elected on not taking corporate PAC

money and I have absolutely no intention

of changing that whatsoever right and so

it's really just about learning to

navigate that space with that foundation

you you've seen some of the older

politicians and more establishment

politicians within the Democratic Party

saying I I like what Alexandria Cortez

is all about but she's scaring away

Midwestern voters she needs to temper

her message because that's going to lose

her the support of Midwestern voters

which is weird because you're not yet

first of all representing them but but

but also how do you respond to that idea

that you are in fact creating an

unappealing view of what the Democratic

Party is ah so earlier this week or last

week a few days ago everything's a blur

I don't even what is time but I was in

Kansas and I intentionally went with

senator Sanders actually in an extremely

deep red district the district that the

Koch brothers live in it was a

Republican plus 20 district and a non

corporate candidate progressive

candidate campaign in that district and

turned it to our plus six he shaved 14

points off of the Republican advantage

in that district this was a district

that everybody gave up on they said it's

this is too bad

like too far gone he went in there

anyway and he cut 14 points off the off

of the Republican lead and we went in

there and on 1 p.m. on a Friday in the

middle of the workday we turned out four

to five thousand people in the middle of

Wichita for a rally and I think what we

need to remember is that it was the

Midwest that was the source of the

progressive movement originally in the

United States of America

it was workers in Indiana in Michigan in

Kansas that bought into the New Deal

that organized that unionized their

labor that got a 40-hour work week and a

two-day weekend that came from the

Midwest right and I believe that it will

come from the Midwest again when you

look at the power of labels in politics

you understand how how powerful a label

can be you know that's attached to your

name or an idea do you ever consider

taking socialists out of your label and

I ask this as as an argument that I saw

where there was an interesting idea

where someone said Millennials and this

generation haven't been indoctrinated in

the same way against socialism as the

older generation has and so then I

thought I was like I wonder if

Alexandria Cortes would say no I I don't

mind not being called a socialist but

these are still my platform ideas or do

you feel like you should be able to run

on the platform and say you are who you

are which one will you prefer to go well

I think my strength is that I am honest

and I am authentic and I think that even

Republicans like write letters to our

campaign saying thank you and one of the

reasons they do that a is because

getting money out of politics is a

bipartisan and post partisan issue

right everybody recognizes that it's a

problem but then B I think people

appreciate that I am honest and that I'm

not trying to not be Who I am in order

to get you to like me right you know I'm

here this is what it's about Medicare

for all tuition free public college a

green new deal that is what I campaigned

as and that is that I think it's also

important to say that this socialist


something that I think the media cares

more about because I don't knock on a

person's door and it's like hey let me

tell you about socialism like that's

yeah that that wouldn't that's not how I

campaign yeah that's like Jehovah's

Witnesses that's yeah exactly and and I

also think that I don't knock on a

person's door and say hey let me tell

you about being a Democrat no I don't

say that I speak to people's needs and

you know if Fox News and if if media

want to continue using this word I use

the word I think by me saying oh no I'm

not the set in the other it just becomes

a distraction we're here to talk about

wages we're here to talk about education

we're here to talk about saving our

planet we're here to talk about a carbon

tax we're here about we're here to talk

about people paying their fair share and

we're here to talk about saving the

country right

quite a few golden that that is one of

the key things that I want to speak to

you about then is those ideas I think

most people would agree on especially if

they don't know the label that they're

attached to you know but then the

pragmatic side of it comes in as you

said how do you pay for these you know

you always see people coming in with

economic arguments and they say look

these numbers don't really add up you

know in order to get health care for

everybody this is what it would cost

that's gonna be troubling even if you

reverse the Republican tax deal that's

only gonna make up 5% of what we need to

pay for Medicare for all

you know how do you pay for education

for all how do you pay for all of these

these ideas so I this isn't this is an

excellent excellent question and in fact

there's a lot of back-of-the-envelope

stuff based on our values so for example

I sat down with a Nobel Prize The

Economist last week I can't believe I

can say that it's really weird but one

of the things that we saw is if people

pay their fair share

it's corporations and the ultra wealthy

for example as Warren Buffett likes to

say if he paid as much as his secretary

paid 15% if you paid a 15% tax rate if

corporations paid if we if we reverse

the the tax bill but when raised our

corporate tax rate to 28% which is not

even as high as it was before right if

we if we do those two things and also

close some of those loopholes that's two

trillion dollars right there that's two

trillion dollars in ten years and it's

why one of the wide estimates is that

it's going to take three to four

trillion dollars to transition us to a

hundred percent renewable energy economy

so we got two trillion dollars from

folks paying their fair share which they

were not paying before the Trump tax

bill right they weren't know like they

weren't paying that before the Trump tax

bill if we get people to pay their fair

share that's two trillion in ten years

now if we implement a carbon tax on top

of that so that we can transition and

and financially incentivize people away

from fossil fuels if we implement a

carbon tax that's an additional amount

of of a large amount of revenue that we

can have and then the last key which is

extremely extremely important is


just last year we gave the military a

seven hundred billion dollar attack a

budget increase which they didn't even

ask for they're like we don't want

another fighter jet like don't give us

another nuclear bomb they didn't even

ask for it and we gave it to them and so

a lot of what we need to do is

reprioritize what we want to accomplish

as a nation and really what this is

about is saying health care is important

for enough for us to put first education

is important enough for us to put first

and that is a decision that requires

political and moral courage from both

parts of the aisle period thank you so

much for being on the show

John Brooks has everybody





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