Ocasio-Cortez: ‘Call Me a Socialist; I Don’t Give a Damn’

July 17, 2018

Democratic congressional candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said during an interview with Black Lives Matter activist DeRay Mckesson that she does not "give a damn" if people call her a socialist.

"I believe in health care for all, I believe in education for all, I believe in housing as a human right, and then if people are going to call me a socialist for believing in those things, alright, call me a socialist; I don’t give a damn," she told Mckesson.

This is not the first time Ocasio-Cortez has commented on her level of identification with socialism. During an appearance on "The View," she struggled to differentiate between socialism and democratic socialism but was more adamant that there was a distinction. "There's a huge difference between socialism and Democratic socialism," she said before attempting to differentiate the two.

"Democratic socialism, and really what that boils down to me, is the basic belief that I believe that in a moral and wealthy America and a moral and modern America, no person should be too poor to live in this country," she continued without specifically identifying the difference between democratic socialism and socialism.

Ocasio-Cortez defeated Rep. Joe Crowley, chair of the House Democratic Caucus, in a New York primary last month. Her defeat of Crowley was seen as a major upset, especially since the incumbent was viewed as a possible successor to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.). The 28-year-old ran to Crowley's left, campaigning on free public college, abolishing Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, and a federal jobs guarantee.

Since her win, Ocasio-Cortez has been held up by some as an exemplar of what the Democratic Party should be, but some others on the left caution she has shown a "lack of maturity." Earlier this week, Margaret Hoover, host of PBS’s "Firing Line," pressed Ocasio-Cortez about what she meant by referring to an Israeli "occupation." "I think what I meant is, like, the settlements that are increasing in these areas, where Palestinians are experiencing difficulty in access to their housing and homes," responded the candidate.

She added she is "not the expert on geopolitics on this issue" and said she is "a firm believer in finding a two-state solution on this issue."

Ocasio-Cortez appeared to back off her "firm" belief in a two-state solution only days after interviewing with Hoover. On Monday, she was asked by Democracy Now! if she was still for a two-state solution between Israel and Palestine.

"You know, I think this is a conversation that I'm engaging with with activists right now," Ocasio-Cortez responded. "Because this is a huge– especially over this weekend. This is a conversation that I'm sitting down with lots of activists in this movement on, and I'm looking forward to engaging in this conversation."

Her relationship with Crowley also became tense last week after she accused him of mounting a third-party challenge to her candidacy, a claim he vehemently denies.