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As Long as We Remember...

March 13, 2019

She’s Not Stupid

Patricia A. Kelly

I’ve been thinking about the youngest woman ever elected to Congress, a woman who beat a congressional leader, Joe Crowley, by 15 points after being outspent 18 to one, a woman who kept her campaign information in a brown paper bag behind the bar where she worked while campaigning.


She had 3.1 million Twitter followers as of February 2019, 2.2 million Instagram followers and 500,000 Facebook followers, probably more by now. Her first speech in Congress broke the C-Span record for viewership.


She has noted that when Paul Ryan was elected to Congress, the youngest man ever at age 28, he was hailed as a genius. She, as she noted, is called stupid, ignorant and someone who should return to dancing, at which she is quite good. She is called a bartender, which she has been more than once. But she is a lot more than that.


Of course, she is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the daughter of a Bronx boy of Puerto Rican descent who married her mother after meeting her on a trip to visit Puerto Rican family, and brought her to America. They lived in a Bronx apartment until Representative Ocasio-Cortez, District 14 New York, was five, when they moved to a house in Westchester County, after her father became an architect.


She graduated cum laude from Boston University with a double major in international affairs and economics.


She has worked since graduation in politics, for Bernie Sanders and for his last year in office as an intern for Sen. Ted Kennedy (D., MA), as well as working as an education director for several organizations. Bartending was a second job, taken on to help her mother financially as she faced foreclosure on her home after the death of her husband while Representative Ocasio-Cortez was a sophomore in college.


She has received two publicly known awards. She received the first after coming in second in the microbiology category of the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair during high school. The MIT Lincoln lab named an asteroid after her. In 2017 she was named the person of the year by the National Hispanic Institute.


No, she’s not stupid.


Her life experiences, such as with court-appointed attorneys during a protracted probate fight after her father’s death, and as a Kennedy intern speaking in Spanish to people whose family members were detained by ICE, undoubtedly helped shape her views.


After the 2016 election, she traveled to Flint, Michigan, where she spoke with victims of water contamination. She also went to the Standing Rock Indian Reservation in the Dakotas, whose members fought the Keystone pipeline. This second visit may have influenced her decision to run for Congress in spite of a lack of wealth.


Anyone who follows current political events knows a lot about Representative Ocasio-Cortez and her positions on issues. She is openly a Democratic Socialist. She wants the government to provide for and control most aspects of American life. She has presented detailed explanations of what would be required to achieve her goals for us. She decries the Russian, Cuban and Venezuelan government systems, favoring the United Kingdom, Sweden, Finland and Norway instead.


She believes in something called Modern Monetary Theory, which asserts that money is not a medium of exchange based on value such as gold or government guarantee, but rather a standard of deferred payment, with government money being debt that may be reclaimed through taxation. Look it up. It’s complicated. Interestingly, this system favors deficit spending, and Representative Ocasio-Cortez favors it being used to forward government programs such as the Green New Deal.


She, along with her mother, father and brother worked hard and achieved much.


She lived the capitalist dream of getting ahead and winning, with hard work and intelligence.


Funny how she wants to create a world where that is not necessary, and believes such a plan could succeed.


I wouldn’t underestimate her, though.


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