MSNBC hosted a town hall event Friday night with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez discussing her Green New Deal. During a discussion in the second segment of the event, former Republican Congressman Bob Inglis suggested the left was in danger of becoming the thing it hated most, i.e. the Tea Party. He politely suggested that the crowd in Brooklyn (where the town hall was held) cheering for AOC was the mirror image of the one at Trump’s recent rally who were cheering “AOC sucks.”
The crowd in Brooklyn didn’t like that comparison and started booing Inglis. To his credit, host Chris Hayes cautioned them, “You guys are making his point when you do that.” But AOC’s response to that challenge has to be the funniest and most embarrassing moment of the night. Here’s her explanation for why her crowd is not the “Tea Party of the left.”
“We are committed to policies that make American lives better and we’re actually talking about something substantive, we’re not calling anyone names,” AOC said. She continued, “People say ‘Tea Party of the left’ and I find this phrase very interesting…because the grounding of the Tea Party was xenophobia, the underpinnings of white supremacy…” After a bit of rambling, she added, “Here’s a really big difference. The Koch Brothers funded the Tea Party and everyday people funded my campaign.” This was met with wild applause.
Chris Hayes did not point out that AOC had just proven Rep. Inglis’s point. Literally one sentence after arguing “we’re not calling anyone names” she called the Tea Party xenophobic, white supremacist, and puppets for billionaires. Her entire answer was shrill name calling and the crowd’s reaction was really applause for themselves. They’re better people than those deplorables who call people names.
Capitalism is the Problem
Later in the same segment, Inglis challenged AOC with the idea that it was better to hold off on some of the social justice elements of the GND in order to focus on the climate change piece. AOC rejected that saying that everything had to be done all at once or else nothing would get done.
“Here’s the deal…we could solve all of the environmental issues in the world,” she said. She continued, “If those climate policies and solutions are drafted onto the existing framework of economic injustice then we will perpetuate our social problems.
“The yellow vests in France are a perfect example of what happens when you do not address economic and social justice in the same sweep as climate policy. Because what happens is that a) the policy becomes unsustainable, b) society starts to fall apart which is what happens in income inequality and then c) we don’t actually solve the environmental issue.”
There’s a lot to unpack in those sentences but here’s the Cliff’s Notes version: Free market capitalism is not compatible with the Green New Deal. When the GND was first released I wrote a post headlined, “The Green New Deal Is About Saving The Planet By Ending Capitalism.” Here’s some of what it said:
There’s a skeleton key of sorts that makes sense of this odd leftist wish list. It’s called capitalism. Really, making sense of this jumble of a proposal is that simple.
The reason much of the document seems to be aimed at rearranging the economy far beyond the already extreme measures that would be required to fight climate change is, I believe, that AOC sees capitalism as the root of the problem. And if capitalism is the root, then it’s not enough to cut emissions or install more solar panels. What you need is to end capitalism by reducing air travel, giving jobs to people even if they won’t work, guarantee free health care, free college, affordable (government subsidized?) housing, and using whatever’s left to repair historic oppression. Because if you do all of that, there is no capitalism left…
The secret of the Green New Deal is not that it’s an odd grab bag of unrelated priorities, but that it’s an even more extreme proposal than it appears to be. This isn’t a plan to save the planet, it’s a plan to save the planet by ending capitalism.
If asked, I’m certain AOC would deny this. But I don’t think her ambition can be reconciled with the system we have now where people own things and are more or less free to run them as they see fit. There is no way to do the things AOC wants to do and leave much of that system in the hands of other people. To achieve what she wants, she needs to control much more that the free market would allow.
Earlier in the program, AOC said this: “Our issues and our economic issues are systemic and they are not an accident. They are the result of an economic system that enriches the few in enormous amount at the cost of the working class and middle class.” A bit later she added, “A lot of what the Green New Deal is is shifting our political, economic, and social paradigm on every issue.” The fact that the people cheering for this are the same people moaning about President Trump altering our “norms” is the chef’s kiss of hypocrisy.
She’s really not being shy about what she wants here. The current economic system is, in her view, unfair and is taking something from the working and middle class. This is the analysis you would expect from Democratic Socialism. The underlying idea is that the state can and should arrange these things better than private interests are currently doing. It’s a very old delusion at this point but one that keeps cropping up every generation.
AOC’s claim to be able to solve all the world’s problems at once is laughable. What’s not funny is the cheering and applause from the crowd of people who seem eager to believe her. The idea that a group of people in Brooklyn know how to address our farm policy should give everyone chills. This has been tried before and has not worked out well.
Here’s the clip cued up to the part about the Tea Party. The bit about the “existing framework of economic injustice” comes a bit later in this same clip.