Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from New York's 14th district Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez attends Women's March 2019 on January 19, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by John Lamparski/Getty Images)

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Is Under Fire Because She’s Right

A new generation of leaders is rising that just may be ready to take on the plutocrats. Like AOC, they will come under intense fire. They will succeed only if we build a popular movement strong enough to overcome the resistance.

Jesse Jackson

 by Chicago Sun-Times

The big guns are out for Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the charismatic first-term legislator from New York.

In an apparent swipe at Ocasio-Cortez, Donald Trump used part of his rambling State of the Union address to say he was “alarmed by new calls to adopt socialism in our country.”

"What is different now is that the moral center — what is right — is also increasingly popular. The political class is running scared because more and more people understand that the rules have been rigged to benefit only the few."

Billionaire former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz cited Ocasio-Cortez’s support for a 70 percent tax rate on income above $10 million a year as one reason he may decide to run as an independent for president, and not as a Democrat.

The young congresswoman isn’t easily cowed. She called out Trump, saying “I think he’s scared.”

“He feels himself losing on the issues. Every single policy proposal that we have adopted and presented to the American public has been overwhelmingly popular, even some with a majority of Republican voters supporting.”

Ocasio-Cortez is exactly right. Schultz may think calls for Medicare for all are “un-American,” but the vast majority of Americans support it. Consider the following:

Reuters poll: 70 percent support Medicare for all, including 52 percent of Republicans.

Fox News poll: 70 percent support raising taxes on those making over $10 million a year.

Bloomberg poll: 62 percent support tuition-free college.

Kaiser Foundation poll: 92 percent support having Medicare negotiate with drug companies to lower drug prices.

Hart poll: 63 percent support $15 minimum wage.

Yale/George Mason poll: 81 percent support the Green New Deal plan.

There is a wide gulf between the political center and the moral center.

Dr. Martin Luther King used to teach that “cowardice asks the question, is it expedient? And then expedience comes along and asks the question, is it politic? Vanity asks the question, is it popular? Conscience asks the question, is it right? There comes a time when one must take the position that is neither safe nor politic nor popular, but he must do it because conscience tells him it is right.”

Politicians worry about donors. They hear from lobbyists, from special interests, from corporations that can spend unlimited money in political campaigns without revealing it.

The moral center is concerned with what is right — and what can work.

What is different now is that the moral center — what is right — is also increasingly popular. The political class is running scared because more and more people understand that the rules have been rigged to benefit only the few. So Trump and Republicans and billionaires like Schultz yell “socialism,” “Venezuela,” “extremism,” “radicalism.” They need to spread fear to protect a discredited political center.

"Medicare for all isn't socialism; it's common sense. A living wage isn't radical; it's a moral imperative."

Don’t fall for it. Medicare for all isn’t socialism; it’s common sense. A living wage isn’t radical; it’s a moral imperative.

We now suffer an extreme inequality not witnessed since before the Great Depression. It is time for the moral center to make itself heard.

And now a new generation of leaders is rising that just may be ready to take on the fight. Like AOC, they will come under intense fire. They will succeed only if we build a popular movement strong enough to overcome the resistance.

AOC is young and smart and charismatic, and she and her colleagues may help us begin to heal a nation.


© 2021 Chicago Sun-Times
Jesse Jackson

Jesse Jackson

Jesse Jackson is an African-American civil rights activist and Baptist minister. He was a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1984 and 1988 and served as shadow senator for the District of Columbia from 1991 to 1997. He was the founder of both entities that merged to form Rainbow/PUSH.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

'Grim and Alarming' UN Report Details 'Catastrophic' Global Failure on Climate

"We are not going in the right direction," warns the head of the World Meteorological Organization.

Andrea Germanos ·


Analysis Shows Facebook Allows 99% of Climate Disinformation to Go Unchecked

The new study coincided with Facebook's new initiative to combat climate lies, which civil society groups criticized as "too little, too late."

Jake Johnson ·


Sanders Says There's 'No Excuse' for Any Democrat to Oppose Lowering Drug Prices

"Now is the time for Congress to show courage and stand up to the greed of the pharmaceutical industry."

Jake Johnson ·


Covid-19 Vaccine Makers Blasted for 'Unconscionable Profits,' Monopolies, and Low Taxes

"Big Pharma's business model—receive billions in public investments, charge exorbitant prices for lifesaving medicines, pay little tax—is gold dust for wealthy investors and corporate executives but devastating for global public health."

Common Dreams staff ·


UN Human Rights Chief Calls for Global Halt to Sales of Dangerous AI Technologies

"The power of AI to serve people is undeniable, but so is AI's ability to feed human rights violations at an enormous scale with virtually no visibility."

Brett Wilkins ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo