Mises Wire

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Was Predictable

After pulling off a major upset in the Democratic Primary for New York’s 14th congressional district, 28-year-old Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is now being touted as the new face of the Democratic Party.

Ocasio’s victory has rejuvenated the Democratic Party and liberals naitionwide. For many on the Left, Ocasio’s recent victory is a breath of fresh air after putting up with Hilary Clinton’s failed presidential campaign in 2016.

Beyond the typical R vs. D analysis that continues to grab headlines, what is most troubling about Ocasio’s meteoric rise to political fame is her complete disregard for basic economics.

A brief look at her platform is enough to realize that the ideas of socialism are alive and well in American politics.

Her platform is centered on the following policy planks:

  • Medicare for all
  • Free public university
  • Universal jobs guarantee
  • Housing as a human right

The common denominator of all her proposals is the amount of faith placed in the State to conduct private affairs. Channeling the spirit of failed presidential candidate Bernie Sanders , Ocasio describes her program as democratic socialism .

White-Washing Socialism

Leftists have tried their best to re-brand and obfuscate socialism to make it palatable to the misinformed masses.

No matter how many times socialist experiments have failed—from the Soviet Union to present-day Venezuela —many naïve leftists continue their never-ending goose chase for a socialist experiment that works.

The casual mention of socialism in political discourse is troubling.

When countries like Venezuela are crumbling before our very eyes it is astounding that many elected officials continue to flirt with the idea of implementing socialism.

In the Left’s imagination, Scandinavia is the silver bullet to the capitalist model.

This tired trope ignores several crucial details about the Nordic countries’ prosperity:

1. They are among the freest economies in the world (which admittedly may not be saying much), according to various economic freedom indices. At worst, they are mixed economies.

2. As highlighted in works like Scandinavian Unexceptionalism, Nordic countries first became rich through capitalism well before the welfare state was established.

Facts notwithstanding, the political Left continues to doze off into economic lala land and relies on raw emotion to draw conclusions on political economy.

Democracy: The God that Failed?

Many naïve minds on the Left make the mistake of asserting that Ocasio’s democratic socialism is something novel and bringing about socialist policies by democratic means, instead of authoritarian takeovers as in the Soviet case, will somehow avoid the pitfalls of socialism. Frankly, such an assumption is wishful thinking.

Harebrained socialist policies such as price controls will have the same effect—shortages—regardless if they were approved by a voter referendum or implemented by dictatorial fiat.

Democracies are not magical political systems exempt from economic and political downturns.

In fact, democracies with very little institutional checks and balances can devolve into systems where property rights are put on the chopping block and mob rule becomes the order of the day.

As avid students of history know, some of the Founding Fathers were justified in their skepticism towards democracy . The Athenian case of democracy, albeit limited by today’s standards, was a story of an innovative political system that eventually succumbed to tyranny after Athens engaged in numerous military adventures and grandiose spending programs—all which were approved by the rubber stamp of democracy.

For that reason, the Founders championed more of a republican model of governance with several democratic features, but ultimately buttressed with strong checks and balances and competitive federalism.

Just More of the Same

The 20th century has witnessed the Founding Father’s original vision wither away in favor of a managerial state that gets constant democratic seals of approval at all levels of government to justify overreach.

In fact, Ocasio’s rise to prominence is no hack of the system. It is the logical end result of multiple generations acclimating to expansive government expansion.

New York is a telltale example of this. A state that was once a paragon of American capitalism during the Gilded Age , New York has taken the path to massive government intervention in the last few decades.

High taxes, out-of- control spending, lavish union privileges, and strict zoning laws, have compelled countless New Yorkers to move to other states with more affordable housing markets and friendlier business climates.

The media brands Ocasio-Cortez as revolutionary, but her ideology is part of the same old tired Leftist agenda of state control but this time it comes with a prettier face.

Multiple decades of media and institutional desensitization has culminated in a scenario where socialism is discussed nonchalantly in public forums.

Ocasio will very likely go on to win her seat by a comfortable margin, but the real losers will be her constituents.

Socialism’s marketing may change, but its results always remain the same once implemented — economic collapse and misery.

Note: The views expressed on Mises.org are not necessarily those of the Mises Institute.
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