In an appearance at the South by Southwest conference, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) of New York dominated political talk at the event, even drawing bigger crowds than any of the Democratic presidential hopefuls that showed up, according to the Daily Mail. The firebrand freshman lawmaker took the Austin, Texas event by storm, easily filling one of the biggest ballrooms at the Austin Event Center with legions of supporters eager to see her, forcing organizers to direct people to several overflow rooms. Celebs including Bill Nye were in attendance to hear her speak, and he tweeted photos of himself in the room before the event, and with AOC as well.
Although the crowd reportedly roared its approval when AOC took the stage, the room was silent while she spoke, as attendees hung on her every word. As one of the main architects of the Green New Deal, AOC laid out her vision of addressing economic, social, and environmental problems as intersectional issues that amplify and exacerbate one another and must be faced en masse if any progress is to be made. And Ocasio-Cortez wasn’t afraid to take on the Democratic Party establishment, offering a backhanded smackdown of their usual legislation of “baby steps” incrementalism, saying that she doesn’t believe that does enough to address the huge problems facing the U.S. and the world.
“This idea of like 10 percent better than garbage shouldn’t be something we settle for,” she said.
Ocasio-Cortez then contrasted the Democrats’ cherished New Deal (courtesy of Franklin Delano Roosevelt) with the Green New Deal, noting that while the original did help a lot of people during the Great Depression with housing and jobs, the vast majority of those people were white, and it mostly left African-Americans and Latinos to fend for themselves. She also attributed much of modern America’s racial bile to Ronald Reagan.
“[Reagan] pitted white working-class Americans against brown and black working-class Americans to screw over all working-class Americans…when he started talking about ‘welfare queens,'” she said.
Pivoting to the Green New Deal, Ocasio-Cortez pointed out the often overlooked truth — poor communities of color are often the first to be affected by environmental malfeasance and climate change-related issues – and they are ones that suffer the most. Thus, she argued, they are also the communities the Green New Deal would put first in line for assistance.
“We fix the pipes in Flint first. We fix the electrical grid in Puerto Rico first. And we fully fund the pensions of coal miners in West Virginia,” she said as the crowd erupted.
“Our mission right now should be that all jobs should be paid a dignified living wage. Our mission should be to save our freaking planet.”
Ocasio-Cortez went on to decry apathy, saying we’ve become so cynical we view cynicism as intellectual superiority.
“Moderate isn’t a stance,” she added. “It’s an attitude toward life.”