NEW YORK – Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez claimed Saturday that former President Ronald Reagan used certain rhetoric to pit white working class Americans against brown and black working class Americans.
“A perfect example of how special interests and the powerful have pitted white working class Americans against brown and black working class Americans is Reaganism in the ’80s when he started talking about welfare queens,” the New York Democrat said while speaking at a conference in Austin, Texas.
“So you think about this image of welfare queens and what he was really trying to talk about was … this like really resentful vision of essentially black women who were doing nothing, that were ‘sucks’ on our country,” she continued. “That’s not explicit racism but still rooted in a racist caricature.”
Ocasio-Cortez — who was born nearly nine months after Reagan left the White House — made the comments during an interview at the South by Southwest Conference & Festivals. The swipe against the country’s 40th president was not the only controversial statement she made while speaking to The Intercept’s Briahna Gray.
The self-identified democratic socialist also claimed that “where we are” as Americans amounts to “garbage.”
“So when someone’s talking about ‘our core,’ they’re like, ‘Oh, this is radical,’ but it isn’t radical. This is what we’ve always been,” Ocasio-Cortez said, arguing against the notion that her proposals are too radical. “I think all of these things sound radical compared to where we are, but where we are is not a good thing. And this idea of like 10 percent better than garbage, it shouldn’t be what we settle for.”
Ocasio-Cortez went on to criticize the concept of political moderation.
“Moderate is not a stance. It’s just an attitude towards life of, like, ‘meh,’” she said. “We’ve become so cynical that we view ‘meh’ or ‘eh’ — we view cynicism as an intellectually superior attitude, and we view ambition as youthful naivete.”
Follow Jason on Twitter.