Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez explains what it means to be a democratic socialist

"No American should be too poor to live"

Published July 1, 2018 2:09PM (EDT)

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (Getty/Scott Heins)
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (Getty/Scott Heins)

In an interview on Sunday morning, Democratic congressional nominee Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez did not shy away from being called a democratic socialist, and instead explained why she believes "that in a modern, moral and wealthy society, no American should be too poor to live."

"Democrats are a big tent party," Ocasio-Cortez told NBC's Chuck Todd on Sunday. "The definition of democratic socialism to me, again, is the fact that in a modern, moral and wealthy society, no American should be too poor to live."

The 28-year-old Ocasio-Cortez, who stunned the political world after she defeated top New York Democratic Rep. Joe Crowley in a primary last Tuesday, argued that an important part of her winning strategy was by "building a broad based coalition of people."

"And to me, that means every working class American in this country should have access to dignified health care," she explained. "Should actually be able to see a doctor without going broke. It means you should be able to send your kids to college and trade school if they so choose."

Ocasio-Cortez continued, "And no person should feel precarious or unstable in their access to housing as our economy develops."

Asked bluntly if she considered herself a democratic socialist, the former bartender and community organizer said socialism is only "part" of who she is, but she indicated that the public should be less focused on labels and more focused on values.

"I'm not trying to impose an ideology on all, you know, several hundred members of Congress," she explained. "But I do think that, once again, it's not about selling an -ism or an ideology or a label or a color. This is about selling our values."

Ocasio-Cortez has presented a major challenge for the Democratic Party, which has been arguably stuck in an identity crisis since the 2016 election. She said that she believed her bold progressive agenda could be applied to congressional districts throughout the country.

"Well, I think that there are a lot of districts in this country that are like New York 14, that have changed a lot in the last 20 years and whose representation has not," she explained. "And it's not to say whether someone should be voted out or voted in, but I think it definitely speaks to perhaps us evolving in our messaging and at least how we do things."

Ocasio-Cortez has also called for the abolition of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), a position seen as far too bold and politically risky for many Democrats. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., rejected Ocasio-Cortez's proposition and said, "I think what has to change are the policies...we are always going to need immigration enforcement."

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump has welcomed calls to abolish ICE and said in an interview that aired on Sunday, "I hope they [Democrats] keep thinking about it, because they’re going to get beaten so badly."

He added, "You get rid of ICE, you’re going to have a country that you’re going to be afraid to walk out of your house."

By Charlie May

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