Fresh off an introduction of a historic resolution on the Green New Deal, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) on Thursday evening did not have a problem grappling with the question over whether the ideologies of democratic socialism and capitalism can coexist, saying she is not one who thinks in simplistic terms about the nature of the economy but believes the most important thing is the power and voice that workers enjoy within businesses and beyond.
"Can you be a democratic socialist and a capitalist?" asked MSNBC's Chuck Todd in an one-on-one interview.
Without falling for the binary gotcha format of the question, Ocasio-Cortez responded, "Well, I think it depends on your interpretation. So there are some democratic socialists that would say, 'Absolutly not.' There are other people who are democratic socialists that would say, 'I think it's possible.'"
Asked which camp she fell into, Ocasio-Cortez said, "I think it's possible."
"Do you say, 'I'm a capitalist, but...'?" asked Todd.
"I don't say that," Ocasio-Cortez quickly shot back. "If anything, I would say, 'I believe in a democratic economy, but...'" With a smile she added, "But, the 'but' is there."
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While acknowledging there are things the private sector does better, like providing markets with consumer goods, but also noted that even businesses operating in the private sector can themselves be socially democratic and offered worker cooperatives as a great example. Democratic socialism, she said, is "not about government takeover, it's about how much of a say do workers have in your business. Do you have workers on the board? Do workers enjoy a decent amount of the wealth they are creating? Or is the majority of these profits going to shareholders while you're paying a worker $15 an hour to live in a New York City apartment? And so that to me is the difference.
"It's not that the public sector is democratically socialist and the private sector is not. It's really about a more nuanced understanding of how our economy should work."
Later in the interview she was asked about democratic socialism's ability to win elections, to which she noted that Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), the most high-profile elected in the U.S. Congress, showed in 2016 just how potent the message can be:
.@AOC on democratic socialism and Bernie Sanders:
"No matter how you feel about Senator Bernie Sanders, he ran in 2016 as a democratic socialist and he won every county in West Virginia and he won Michigan." pic.twitter.com/TwUH3zqg4i
— Waleed Shahid (@_waleedshahid) February 7, 2019
Watch the full interview below: