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The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

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Challenging prior ideas about socialism

Challenging+prior+ideas+about+socialism

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and her Green New Deal

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC as she is commonly known) stands out to me as I’m sure she does for everyone following today’s politics. In the slew of news dealing with the 2020 election, the Mueller report and Trump’s taxes, AOC finds herself among the headlines just the same.

To start, just in case you haven’t heard of AOC, here are some quick get-to-know-your-congresswoman facts. She’s the congresswoman for New York’s 14th congressional district, she’s a 2011 Boston University graduate from the College of Arts and Sciences with majors in international relations and economics, she’s a member of the Democratic Socialists of America and she was recently named one of “Time’s 2019 100 Most Influential People.”

Did I mention she’s the youngest congresswoman in U.S. history? No? Well she is, and let me tell you she doing a pretty kick-ass job for being not only the youngest member of Congress ever, but the youngest female member of Congress ever at 29 years old.

As I see it, she’s defying all the norms set for women in politics. And as a woman with a passion for the law and government, I can’t think of a better role model that proves anyone can be a political leader, regardless of intersections that could possibly hinder your success in the public eye.

Anyway, beyond just straight praising the queen of the Bronx, I find her strategies both provocative and strategic. For example, the Green New Deal, which was proposed and led by AOC and Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) was shot down with vehement opposition from far-right politicians, as well as some democrats.

ILLUSTRATION: KELLY SMITH ’19/THE HAWK

The Green New Deal “seeks to solve the climate crisis by combining quick action to get to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions and 100% renewable energy by 2030 along with an ‘Economic Bill of Rights’ — the right to single-payer healthcare, a guaranteed job at a living wage, affordable housing and free college education.”

In essence, it’s a “WWII like mobilization” of the economy in order to combat the rapid climate change that the planet is facing. Trust me, I see the qualms people have with this proposal and rhetoric surrounding it, because it would cost quite a bit of money and it is inherently tied to the word “socialist.”

As made evident by both red scares and the entire Cold War era, you should recognize that the U.S. has some serious problems with what we imagine to be socialism. In the U.S., socialism tends to equal communism, and communism at its core equals a bleak, flat society with one party rule and complete government intervention on economic policy.

Yes, there is a valid historical basis for this assumption. But current democratic-socialism is radically different than what we imagine of the ideology that pertains to the 1950s Soviet Union.

The goal of the Democratic Socialists of America in essence is to promote “as much decentralization as possible” while creating economic opportunities that benefit the whole of society. While this plan will include government intervention at some level, the goal is not to create a single party ruled state with no free market.

In fact, the market is meant to work hand in hand with both democracy and some level of government intervention. So by no means is this new ideology meant to create an America modeled after pure Marxists principles.

But the Green New Deal and its biggest supporter, AOC, take quite a bit of slack because both the proposition and the woman behind the plan are considered “socialists” and thus take the heat for the connotations of the word.

However, as I explicitly stated before, AOC is unconventional and paving the way for new, authentic and powerful political leaders that are not white, upper class men. And her Green New Deal is a radical push for something beyond the present, and encourages U.S. constituents to make a drastic leap to a position in the forefront of the battle against climate change.

The goal is to better the lives of those suffering most from climate change and ultimately create a better world for those who are not in the uppermost levels of society both now and far into the future. AOC and her proposition are not worried about profit for tomorrow, but rather sustainability for years to come in all realms of living.

AOC deserves more credit than she is getting, and she’s much more than an “angry democrat” as frequently tweeted by Trump. She has a true vision for the future of this country, and her authenticity has immense power.

It’s time we stop associating her and her ideas with a deceased image of socialism. It’s time we stop characterizing AOC by some millennial stereotypes or stereotypes meant to demean women or specifically women of color.

It’s time we support groundbreaking leaders like AOC and progressive agendas like hers if we want to accomplish real change not only in the U.S., but across the globe.

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