New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez explained that the Democratic party does not represent the political left in the United States, calling the organisation a “centre or centre-conservative” party that “can’t even get a floor vote” on nationalising health care.
She said: “We can’t even get a floor vote on Medicare for All — not even a floor vote that might get doubled down.”
In an interview with Ta-Nehisi Coates during an event honouring Martin Luther King Jr Day, the progressive politician said there are “left members inside the Democratic party” — including freshman congresswomen Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, among others — ”who are working to try to make that shift happen”.
But the establishment party’s ideology remains firmly within the economic realities of capitalism as a means to address systemic issues like poverty in the US, she explained, saying, “We don’t have a ‘left party’ in the United States.”
She said: “There are a lot of true believers that we can ‘capitalism’ our way out of poverty. If anything, that’s probably the majority.”
Ms Ocasio-Cortez said she agreed with the late civil rights leader, who warned in speeches and in interviews that there is “something wrong with capitalism” and questioned the economic status quo and whether a broader distribution of wealth could begin to repair its failures.
Two weeks before his death, Dr King warned that if America “does not use her vast resources of wealth to end poverty and make it possible for all of God’s children to have the basic necessities of life, she too will go to hell”.
During her interview at Blackout for Human Rights: MLK Now 2020, Ms Ocasio-Cortez also questioned whether the US is more interested in protecting “capital over human beings”, pointing to the 20 January protest in Virginia that attracted thousands of armed protestors, including far-right militia members, demonstrating against the state’s proposed gun-control legislation.
The congresswoman said protesters who took to the streets to call for justice following the police killings of black men were met with a larger display of force from US police than the armed and armoured demonstrators in Virginia.
She said: “There’s this gun rights protest that’s happening down in Richmond ... on MLK Day, but here’s the image that has struck me the most about that, is that when we go out and march for the dignity and the recognition of the lives of people like Freddie Gray and Eric Garner, the whole place is surrounded by police in riot gear without a gun in sight. And here are all of these people flying Confederate flags with semi-automatic weapons, and there’s almost no police officers at that protest. So who or what are our institutions protecting, from whom? That image conveys it all.”