Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez fails miserably at dissociating her socialism from Venezuela's
New York 'it girl' and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has always carried one great big piece of political designer baggage with her: Socialism, with all its ghastly train of ruin, which she is trying to repackage as something fresh and new and fashionable. So all eyes were on her as she got a big condemnation of socialism right in her face from President Trump at his State of the Union speech the other night, with the president denouncing its horrors in Venezuela and declaring "America will never be a socialist country." Seventy-six percent of Americans approved of the speech.
MSNBC's Chris Matthews, hardly a hostile interviewer, asked her for a response and she came up with this whopper.
Here's the transcript from RealClearPolitics:
"What did you make of the president's aggressive statement about Venezuela tonight, and he talked about being a socialist country and how we're never going to be a socialist country. It was pretty truculent but it tied the notion of socialism to that particular regime. What do you think about the president, why he did that?" MSNBC's Chris Matthews asked.
"I think that he needs to do it because he feels like -- he feels himself losing on the issues," Ocasio-Cortez said. "Every single policy proposal that we have adopted and presented to the American public has been overwhelmingly popular, even some with a majority of Republican voters supporting what we're talking about."
"I think he sees himself losing on the issues, he sees himself losing on the wall in the southern border, and he needs to grasp at an ad hominem attack and this is his way of doing it," the Congresswoman said. "What we need to realize is happening is this is an issue of authoritarian regime versus democracy. In order for him to try to dissuade or throw people off the scent of the trail, he has to really make and confuse the public. And I think that that's exactly what he's trying to do."
"Confuse the public"?
What is there to be confused about?
Venezuela's a disastrous failure under 20 years of socialism, with starvation, zero medical care, industrial collapse, sovereign default, massive inflation, and millions of Venezuelans fleeing for their lives. It's not Cuba they're fleeing to, either, it's any place their feet will reach that isn't socialist.
And her dismissal of the matter as an 'ad hominem attack' is nonsense - Trump brought up no person, which is where the 'hominem' comes from, he brought up the results of her own beloved socialism.
What gets me about this is that Ocasio-Cortez is trying to pass off her socialism as something different, the argument that 'ours will be a really good socialism,' which dates back to what radicals in the 1960s argued as they pushed for socialism in places like Cambodia, something that led skull heaps with 3 million dead.
Tom Wolfe, who first observed this, noted that lefties have been pushing a Utopian vision of 'our socialism will be a very good socialism' for years.
Ocasio-Cortez (and her patron, Bernie Sanders) are always attempting to claim that all they want is a Denmark-style socialism, but that's nonsense - Denmark and the other Scandinavian states have market economies with no attacks on anyone for being rich or having a business, and very large welfare states - which, surprise, they are dismantling. The socialism Ocasio-Cortez is promoting is a very different kind, the kind of massive taxation, expropriation, state planning and an explicit claim that "capitalism will not always exist."
So let's take a look at how Venezuela got the way it got.
It came to socialism in 1998, nearly a decade after the fall of the Berlin Wall.
It was premised on a rejection of IMF fiscal choking as a means of paying off government overspending at a time when oil prices were low. There's plenty to criticize in that, but the solution offered, by Hugo Chavez, who took office in early 1999, is an even bigger disaster.
Chavez got elected democratically.
He ran into trouble when he made a lunge for the money, illegally taking over the country's state oil company around 2002 and using its earnings not to keep the business maintained and productive, but as a vehicle for social services spending. You know, like Sweden. He fired the nation's oil experts and brought in politically correct cronies to take their place. "Now, the oil belongs to the people," he thundered.
Getting away with that, it didn't take long for him to start expropriating businesses in the name of 'ending inequality' and handing them over to more socialist cronies in the name of 'the people' too, which did wonders for the investment climate. Homes of "the rich" also were targeted. He changed the constitution to a socialist one, 'for the people' and called his socialist revolution "bolivarian" and said there would be no turning back. All of this would of course lead to a 'sea of happiness' and guys like Oliver Stone, Sean Penn, and Bernie Sanders cheered.
He also started cheating on elections, with electronic device manipulation (hey, it was modern!) and praise from boobs such as Jimmy Carter. A recall referendum held in 2004 was clearly a product of this manipulation and fraud, and the beginnings of the opposition, led by Maria Corina Machado, began the first inklings of resistance in the name of democracy. No, Alexandria, the people were not confused by about that point. Yet all of this in Venezuela was still recognized as 'democratic socialism,' not the bad kind Fidel Castro enacted, shooting his way into power.
The downward slide continued. Judges were replaced by adherents of socialism and rule of law became subject to rule of socialism, in the name of social justice. Guns were confiscated, in the name of the public good. Free speech was shut down - with newspaper after newspaper going bust for lack of newsprint (they couldn't buy it from abroad because dollars were unobtainable, once again in the name of socialist equality). Television news was even more trashed - with Chavista goons shooting up their news floors (I saw this with my own eyes at Globovision headquarters in Caracas) and Chavista cronies with access to dollars buying up the few that remained. No more free press. All done in the name of the people's own good.
Anybody confused about where socialism leads? Ocasio-Cortez is the only one. Except that I don't think she's confused, I think she wants the same thing Venezuela did in the name of 'the people' here. High time she was called out by far less solicitous news media players than Chris Matthews. Ocasio-Cortez is speaking with forked tongue.
Image credit: MSNBC, via YouTube, screen shot