‘Systemic injustices’ led to Trump’s election, claims AOC, but what injustices is she talking about?
Ocasio-Cortez appeared at the Sundance Film Festival via Skype over the weekend, following the screening of ‘Knock Down the House,’ a documentary charting her and three other female candidates’ midterm election campaigns last year. Ocasio-Cortez was the only successful one, unseating ten-term incumbent Rep. Joe Crowley in New York’s Democratic primary in June.
Speaking after the screening, AOC issued one of her trademark social-justice calls to action.
“I hope everyone walks away knowing that we are still in a mode where it’s all hands on deck for our democracy,” she told the audience. “This is not just about the president of the United States. He could be gone tomorrow and that will not change the systemic injustices that led to his election, so it’s important that we continue to be all hands on deck in this fight.”
Fighting words, but the socialist New Yorker was short on specifics. What exactly did she mean by “systemic injustices?”
What systemic injustices? She is speaking with great certainty & may be right, but what is she talking about for example? Does anyone know what systemic injustice occurred that she could help correct by fighting it? I don't see many cases being made, just assertions. I'm open.— Paula Dente Betz (@PollyB7) January 28, 2019
Trump was elected democratically in 2016. Allegations of ‘Russian interference’ are unproven and the stuff of Democrat revisionism. Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s ongoing ‘Russiagate’ probe has thus far failed to find any evidence of collusion or conspiracy, leaving that ‘injustice’ a no-go.
Ocasio-Cortez’ grassroots campaign made a big deal of rejecting corporate donations. The outsize influence of corporate cash is arguably the biggest systemic obstacle to change in American politics today, but it is not one that uniquely benefited Trump in 2016. In fact, the Clinton campaign outspent the Trump campaign, raising $1.2 billion to Trump’s $647 million.
One major step that would help is to disallow Congress from taking any outside $ and have a fixed amount equally for everyone AND eliminating all lobbyists!— Randy Baker (@randypbaker) January 28, 2019
52 percent of Clinton’s cash came from large contributors, while Trump only pulled in 14 percent from these wealthy donors. In addition, Trump kicked in $66 million of his own fortune to finance his campaign.
Far more unjust was the Democratic National Committee’s (DNC) decision to tilt the scales against progressive challenger Bernie Sanders in 2016, after the Clinton campaign agreed to bail out the cash-strapped DNC. The claim that the DNC ‘rigged’ the Democratic primary was backed up by Sen. Elizabeth Warren, and by former DNC chairwoman Donna Brazile, who said the 2016 debacle “compromised the party's integrity".
Up to the day the DNC declared Clinton the party’s nominee, Sanders maintained a double-digit lead in popularity over his establishment opponent, while Clinton’s favorability had hit a two-decade low.
“…systemic injustices that led to his election” Like people voting?— Chris Bodnar (@realChrisBodnar) January 28, 2019
Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez are both endorsed by Democratic Socialists of America, and sing from the same hymn sheet when it comes to policy. Both favor radically expanded healthcare, education, and environmental programs, and have advocated for a raised minimum wage and higher taxes on the rich. Nevertheless, Ocasio-Cortez has never criticized her party for railroading Sanders in 2016, nor has she endorsed the venerable socialist for a rumored 2020 bid.
The Electoral College
With the list of “systemic injustices” at play in 2016 whittled down, one obvious choice remains: the Electoral College.
Trump managed to win in 2016 despite Clinton receiving over two million more votes overall. He did so thanks to the Electoral College, an institution that allocates ‘electors’ to each state, proportional to that state’s number of seats in Congress. Without the Electoral College, elections could be decided solely by more populous states, and Clinton’s 6 million vote victory in California and New York would have easily canceled out her losses elsewhere.
Ocasio-Cortez herself has railed against the Electoral College, declaring last October that “It is well past time we eliminate the Electoral College, a shadow of slavery’s power on America today that undermines our nation as a democratic republic.”
It is well past time we eliminate the Electoral College, a shadow of slavery’s power on America today that undermines our nation as a democratic republic. https://t.co/00HZN3MI6F— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) October 6, 2018
AOC is not the first politician to declare the Electoral College unfair. When George W. Bush lost the popular vote in 2000, opponents of the college introduced bills and penned angry op-eds against the system. In total, there have been over 700 failed proposals introduced in Congress in the last 200 years to abolish or overhaul the system.
For others, the injustices are year-round ones that ordinary Americans contend with: poor education, income inequality, crumbling infrastructure and a stagnating minimum wage.
our education system and infrastructure in ruins, the exorbitant cost of health care bankrupting the retired folks.— Steve Prock (@steve_prock) January 28, 2019
If there is one issue I hold at the core of our society's problems(not the cause of all, but the worst), it's the growing wealth inequality and sheer classism in America. We are fracturing into a society of the rich and of the poor, where neither encounters the other.— Wyatt Smith (@Vekkul) January 28, 2019
4) no increase in the minimum wage for 20+ yrs, 5) allowing companies to sell to US consumers without a minimum tax contribution 6) taxing wages for labor at a higher rate than for capital— Anecdotes are not data (@CDBHinthehouse) January 28, 2019
In this context, the appeal of Trump is better understood. He promised unemployed miners and factory workers jobs, and pledged to tackle the opioid crisis ravaging America’s underclass.
For others, the kind of socialism espoused by Ocasio-Cortez and Sanders is the solution. Indeed, Sanders’ ‘Medicare for All’ bill is now supported by 70 percent of Americans, and endorsed by over 130 Congressional Democrats. 57 percent of Democrats view socialism favorably, while only 47 percent view capitalism with the same favor. Democratic Socialists of America has meanwhile expanded its membership from 6,000 prior to 2016 to over 55,000 last year.
Of course, Ocasio-Cortez did not elaborate on what specific “injustices” she meant, and might not have been talking about money, cronyism, or the Electoral College at all. It is also entirely possible that for the progressive wing of the Democratic party, “systemic injustices” may serve the same purpose “Russian interference” does for the establishment wing: a useful means of dodging blame following an embarassing, and avoidable, loss.
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