In 2018 we saw Joe Crowley, a senior member of the Democrat leadership in the U.S. House unseated – not in a general election, but in a primary – by a 28-year old political neophyte and bartender proclaiming the message of socialism as the cure for our ills as a society.
Since coming out of nowhere to win the election for New York’s 14th Congressional District, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC, as she has come to be known) is proving to be a juggernaut. She has close to 3.5 million Twitter followers (over a million more than Speaker Nancy Pelosi), in a district of less than 700,000 residents. Every speech or interview she gives is viewed as representing the future trajectory of the Democrat party, as it lurches further and further to the left.
In the era of digital media, I am reminded of what I used to say to my then teenage daughters about social media: “Remember, what people post and say online isn’t reality. It’s their best one percent. The reality is always there, though, lying under the surface.”
With respect to Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez and others who like to hoist the flag of socialism, they proclaim what they believe is the best one percent of their failed ideology – but the truth comes through when we pull back the drapes and shine the light of reality.
While the images from Venezuela and all the other failed experiments are certainly worthwhile to explore, we don’t need to look that far off our borders. We can look much closer. In fact, all we need to do is take a look at the congresswoman’s own family.
Back in 2016, before the Trump Administration was even occupying the Oval Office, Blanco Ocasio-Cortez – none other than the mother of the congresswoman – uprooted herself from New York and settled in Eustis. Why did she do this? Well, she answered that herself in an interview with the Daily Mail: “I was paying $10,000 a year in real estate taxes up north. I’m paying $600 a year in Florida. It’s stress-free down here.”
In theory, socialism provides everyone with “free” health care, “free” college, “free” housing, “free” incomes, and we take more and more from the rich to help fund ponies and ice cream for us all. That’s the best one percent of the theory.
The reality lies beneath the surface. The reality is that, in America, people can move with their feet and seek out places where taxes are lower, government is less intrusive, and markets — as opposed to government — drive prosperity. Americans have moved to states that value these principles by the millions. That’s why free markets and capitalism have brought two billion people out of poverty.
Don’t believe me? Ask someone who is trying to sell their house in Illinois, New York or New Jersey. That’s why property rights and the rule of law have generated more wealth and more serious conservation than any meaningless accord that China and India will never adhere to. That’s why small businesses have brought record levels of human prosperity everywhere they have been given the room to grow.
And that’s why even the parent of a socialist congresswoman looked at her home state’s tax policies and said, I’m outta here.
Socialism for thee, Florida for me.
J. Robert McClure III is president and CEO of The James Madison Institute, a non-partisan think tank based in Tallahassee devoted to research and education on public policy issues.