Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is the biggest hit of SXSW as she denounces "meh" moderates

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez dismissed moderate Democrats as representing a "meh" attitude toward life

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published March 10, 2019 12:00PM (EDT)

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (Getty/Don Emmert)
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (Getty/Don Emmert)

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., drew bigger crowds at South by Southwest than any of the Democratic presidential candidates and used that opportunity to criticize "meh" moderates.

"Moderate is not a stance. It's just an attitude towards life of, like, ‘meh,’" Ocasio-Cortez told the audience at South by Southwest, according to NBC News. "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 when... the greatest things we have ever accomplished as a society have been ambitious acts of visions."

She added, "The 'meh' is worshipped now. For what?"

Ocasio-Cortez also fielded a question by television personality Bill Nye — better known as Bill Nye the Science Guy — regarding her determination to rein in man-made climate change.

"People are just afraid of what will happen if we try to make these big changes. When we address climate change, we're going to have access to clean water, the internet and renewable electricity for everyone on Earth," Nye asked Ocasio-Cortez, according to CNET.

In her response, Ocasio-Cortez told Nye that she wants people to overcome their fears and feel comfortable advocating for their beliefs.

"Courage begets courage. The first person who stands up has to encounter the most amount of fear and discomfort, but once that one person stands up, it becomes immensely easier for the second person and the third," Ocasio-Cortez replied.

Ocasio-Cortez also addressed a question about the rise of automation in the American workforce, arguing that automation should be embraced but that workers' rights need to be protected — in particular, the right to not have to worry about economic insecurity if technological progress removes one's job.

"We should not be haunted by the specter of being automated out of work. We should be excited by that. But the reason we’re not excited by it is because we live in a society where if you don’t have a job, you are left to die. And that is, at its core, our problem," Ocasio-Cortez said, according to The Verge.

She also took a shot at former President Ronald Reagan, a beloved figure in the modern Republican Party.

"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," Ocasio-Cortez said, according to Fox News.

She added, "And it's this whole tragedy of the commons type of thinking where it's like because ... 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. It gives people a logical reason, a 'logical' reason to say, 'Oh yeah, no, toss out the whole social safety net.'"

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

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