Ocasio-Cortez Suggests America Is ‘Garbage,’ Claims Reagan Stirred Conflict Between White Americans and Minorities

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D., N.Y.) suggested the current state of America is "garbage" and argued former president Ronald Reagan stirred up conflict between white Americans and minorities during an appearance at the South by Southwest Conference in Austin, Texas on Saturday.

Ocasio-Cortez was asked why more politicians haven't more readily embraced policies like the Green New Deal, Medicare for All, and a $15 minimum wage.

"I think the thing that is really hard for people to sometimes see is that when we are on this path of a slow erosion and a slow, slow, slow, just like move away from what we've always been … you know, you won't even realize that you've drifted a hundred miles," Ocasio-Cortez said. "So, when someone's talking about our core, it's like ‘oh this is radical,' but this isn't radical, this is what we've always been."

"It's just that now we've strayed so far away from what has really made us powerful, and just, and good, and equitable, and productive. And so I think all of these things sound radical compared to where we are, but where we are is not a good thing," Ocasio-Cortez continued. "And this idea of like 10 percent better from garbage, is, shouldn't be what we settle for. It's like this like—it feels like ‘moderate' is not a stance, it's just an attitude toward life of like ‘hmmm.'"

Ocasio-Cortez also claimed Reagan pit white working class Americans against African Americans and other minorities.

"One perfect example, I think a perfect example of how special interests and the powerful have pitted white working-class Americans against brown and black working-class Americans in order to just screw over all working-class Americans, is Reaganism in the '80s when he started talking about welfare queens," Ocaiso-Cortez said. "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."

"And it's this whole tragedy of the commons type of thinking where it's like because these one, this one specific group of people, that you are already kind of subconsciously primed to resent, you give them a different reason that's not explicit racism but still rooted in a racist caricature," Ocasio-Cortez continued. "It gives people a logical reason, a ‘logical' reason to say, ‘oh yeah, no, toss out the whole social safety net.'"

The self-described democratic socialist congresswoman's attack on moderates comes soon after she warned moderate Democrats who vote with Republicans that they are "putting themselves on a list," prompting a backlash from fellow Democrats.

Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D., N.J.) called Ocasio-Cortez's warning "Nixonian" and Rep. Dan Kildee (D., Mich.) said it was not productive.

Ocasio-Cortez's Green New Deal proposal calls for giving every resident of the United States a federal job with paid vacation and retirement benefits, "adequate housing," "healthy food," and "access to nature." It also seeks to make air travel unnecessary and provide jobs for those "unwilling to work." It does acknowledge, however, that getting rid of "farting cows and airplanes" will be difficult. One study suggested the proposal could cost up to $94 trillion.

The libertarian Mercatus Center found "Medicare for all" would likely cost over $30 trillion over 10 years and require enormous tax increases.