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“AOC calls BS.”

Our new Wisconsin poll shows Trump’s strengths and vulnerabilities in a pivotal state, the economy shows warning signs of a possible recession, and the White House shows once again that their re-election strategy involves racist policies. Then Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez talks to Jon about immigration, race, the Green New Deal, and Democratic messaging.

 

Show Notes 

Poll 

  • NYT: Trump’s Electoral College Edge Could Grow in 2020, Rewarding Polarizing Campaign
  • NYT: In Wisconsin Swing District, a Range of Views on Immigration
  • WaPo: The Trailer: From crucial Waukesha County, the battle for Wisconsin
  • Milwaukee Journal Sentinel – Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers tells Trump to stop ‘never-ending tariffs’
  • NYT: These 3 Cities Are Key for 2020 Democrats. They’re Not in Iowa
  • Bloomberg – Trump 2020 Rust Belt Pitch Threatened by Manufacturing Recession
  • American Prospect – Will Trump Steal a March on Democrats in the Midwest?
  • NY Mag – Trump’s State-by-State Approval Ratings Should Scare the MAGA Out of Him
  • WaPo: Why Democrats are stuck competing in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin
  • NYT: These Are the Mistakes Democrats Don’t Want to Repeat in 2020
  • CNN: How Democrats can take back these crucial states from Trump – Op-Ed by Tammy Baldwin
  • CNN: Trump’s base is very different than the swing voters he’ll need in 2020
  • FiveThirtyEight – Obamacare’s Unpopularity Suggests Medicare For All May Be A Hard Sell
  • FiveThirtyEight – Americans Are Sad About Politics. Who Could Blame Them?
  • The Hill – Biden just 1 point ahead of Warren in new weekly tracking poll
  • WaPo: Party is a much better predictor of skepticism about Trump’s views on race than race is

Economy 

  • The Guardian: “Trump says he delayed China tariffs as Christmas gift to US shoppers”
  • Washington Post: “Stocks losses deepen as a key recession warning surfaces”
  • Yahoo Finance (via Reuters): “Trump sees Fed rather than trade war as source of market turmoil”
  • CBS News: “Why the “inverted yield curve” is fueling recession fears”
  • New York Times: “Germany Nears Recession and Chinese Factories Sow in Trade War Fallout”
  • Yahoo Finance (via Bloomberg): “Trump 2020 Rust Belt Pitch Threatened by Manufacturing Recession”
  • UCLA: “Foreign retaliation to U.S. tariffs disproportionately affects Republican-leaning counties, report finds”
  • Business Insider: The Trump administration is starting to publicly recognize the costs of the US-China trade war on Americans
  • CNBC: “Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross discuss the latest on China”
  • New York Times: “Global Economic Trouble is Brewing, and the Trade War is Only Part of It”

Immigration 

  • AP: New Rules to Deny Green Cards to Many Legal Immigrants
  • Politico: Trump to deny green cards to immigrants receiving public benefits
  • NPR – The History Of ‘Public Charge’ Requirements In U.S. Immigration Law
  • Axios: Trump administration to penalize immigrants likely to use public benefits
  • CNN: Trump admin announces rule that could limit legal immigration over use of public benefits
  • NYT: “California Counties Sue to Block Trump’s New Green Card Test.”
  • Salt Lake Tribune: “Utah immigrants say they’re ‘living in fear’ after latest Trump rule on green cards.”
  • Vanity Fair – TRUMP ONLY WANTS RICH IMMIGRANTS LIVING IN THE U.S.
  • NYT: Trump Immigration Plan Offers a Ticket to the American Dream. The Poor Need Not Apply.
  • Esquire – Any Thinking Person Could See This Coming as Soon as Stephen Miller Got Hold of Power
  • Vox: Why the Trump administration is going after low-income immigrants, explained by an expert
  • Politico: Emails show Stephen Miller pressed hard to limit green cards
  • WaPo: The Trump administration ramps up its war on legal immigration – Plum Line
  • HuffPo: What Trump’s Immigration And Welfare Policies Have In Common
  • NPR – Critics Of Trump’s Public Charge Rule Say It Will Cost Americans More In The Long Run
  • Axios: Health of immigrants at risk in changes to public assistance policies
  • NYT: In Her Own Words: The Woman Who Bankrolled the Anti-Immigration Movement
  • WaPo: How President Trump’s new immigration rule could erode the social safety net
  • WaPo: Don’t like Trump’s new ‘public charge’ rule? Blame Congress for shirking its duty.
  • NPR: Immigration Chief: ‘Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor Who Can Stand On Their Own 2 Feet’
  • Politico: Trump immigration official offers rewrite for Statue of Liberty poem
  • The Atlantic – The New Stephen Miller
  • WaPo: It’s the mainstream anti-immigration rhetoric, not the extreme, that’s shaping American politics
  • WaPo: The Daily 202: New polls identify fault lines inside the GOP over Trump’s immigration agenda and treatment of asylum seekers
  • Vox: Google employees are demanding an end to the company’s work with agencies like CBP and ICE
  • Pro Publica – The Case That Made an Ex-ICE Attorney Realize the Government Was Relying on False “Evidence” Against Migrant

Steve King

  • NYT: Steve King, Opposing All Abortions, Asks if There Would Be ‘Any Population’ Without Rape and Incest
  • Fox News – Rep. Liz Cheney blasts GOP colleague Steve King over ‘appalling’ rape and incest remarks: ‘It’s time for him to go’
  • The Atlantic – Why Democrats May Not Want Steve King to Resign -Several 2020 hopefuls have called for the congressman to step down following comments he made about rape and incest. But he represents the party’s best hope in northwest Iowa.
  • Vox: Steve King says without rape and incest, there wouldn’t “be any population of the world left”

Transcription below:

Interview: Jon Favreau and Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Jon Favreau 

With us in studio today, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio Cortez. Congresswoman,

welcome, welcome back to the pod. 

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Thank you for having me. 

Jon Favreau 

So this is the first time we’ve had you on since you took office. I remember in the first year of the Obama White House, there were quite a few times where we looked at each other and said wow, Washington is even worse than we said it was on the campaign trail. Have you had moments like that? 

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Yes, I have had moments like that. In other ways though, it has been better than what I expected. 

Jon Favreau 

Where has it been worse and where has it been better? 

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Worse in that I see how laws are made and I am shocked. You know, I sometimes, I feel as though if people really saw what our legislative process was like it would be a national scandal sometimes. But it’s been better in that, I actually, I think I was more cynical about the capacity for change even going in and now I actually, surprisingly, believe that it’s even more possible than I had thought going in. Not that I thought it was impossible going in but seeing how a lot of these dynamics work I feel more hopeful now more than ever about the possibility of grassroots politics. 

Jon Favreau 

What has made you more hopeful than you thought you’d be?

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Well, I think so many of our decisions are based on public sentiment. And I believe that if we can really unlock the ability to transform and change and focus on moving public sentiment, then we can really open up our possibilities of what we’re capable in DC. And granted, I think that I and our team and some other members are in a unique capacity. We haven’t had this strange fusion of politics and pop culture in this way since I think, frankly the 60s. But it’s an enormous opportunity that we have and I think we should use it. 

Jon Favreau 

So on an issue like immigration, where Democrats couldn’t pass, on their own, a clean humanitarian funding bill that included protections for migrants and children. Like where do we go from here? Do we, is there no choice on immigration but to wait until 2020? Like what progress do you think we can make between now and then? 

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Well, I do think that out of all of the issues immigration is, is probably the most difficult within the Democratic party. I think that it is the single most challenging issue within the party because we have members from all over the country and we have members that won really tough districts and immigration is the one issue that really touches a big nerve. And so it’s a challenge.

It’s a really big challenge and it’s one that, for me coming from a district that’s 50% immigrant, I come from one of the most diverse districts, arguably the most diverse district in the country in terms of languages spoken. Over 200 languages are spoken in my community and it’s, it’s tough to reconcile that it really does get very difficult.

Jon Favreau 

What lessons did you learn from the last, sort of, immigration funding battle for next time? 

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Well, I learned, I learned where a lot of the fault lines are and a lot of these decisions, you know, when we talk about how legislation is made, it’s made, a lot of times there’s a long process where people are kind of writing it and toiling over it but really the chips fall within 48 hours. Everyone finds out whether we’re going to vote on a bill 48 hours before that vote happens. And so a lot of times there’s this massive scramble looking for things because a lot of people who see these bills initially are only those folks where the bill has moved through that committee, where they’ve been able to really comb through it, not everyone may be on that relevant committee where there may have been a hearing on it or not. And so, so one of the things that I’ve learned is where those fault lines are. I’ve also learned where some of our strong points are as a party and where some of our weak points are as a party. I think internal communication is a weak point within the party and even between the Senate and the House. You know, that immigration bill, I think Schumer thought some things were happening, Pelosi thought something else might have been happening and it, members within the caucus didn’t know what other members of the caucus were trying to do. And so it created this, this huge tension out of a lack of communication I think.

Jon Favreau 

It does seem like so much of the immigration debate is driven by fear. Politicians have the fear,

obviously there’s fear among voters, I mean to me it seems like, even hopefully long after Donald Trump is gone this is going to be a dominant political issue not just in America but around the world, we’re going to have more asylum-seekers, more refugees, more climate refugees. How do we start changing the politics around this issue so that in districts that aren’t like yours or that aren’t on the border, it’s not driven by fear?

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Well, this is really tough because, there’s the short-term political work that a lot of people are engaged in which is winning elections. And then there’s the long-term political work which is transforming the ethos of the country and really debating or long-term values. And immigration, as you said, this is going to be a global issue, climate change alone is going to drive hundreds of thousands of people to be changing and migrating across the world. And people say that and, especially on the right, they think it’s a joke but a lot of our wars and a lot of our conflict is going to be over droughts. It’s going to be over lack of resources. It’s going to be over food shortages, in many parts of the country. People are going to be forced to migrate they are already migrating because places where they once lived are no longer livable. And frankly, migration is a, is within our human nature. Ever since the dawn of humanity, humans have migrated. It is a natural, it is as natural as eating and breathing and we’re going to have to figure out how to show people that it’s, it’s actually really not a big deal. We see, if anything it’s positive. Where migrants go, regardless of their background, regardless of how poor or rich they are, where migrants go prosperity follows. And there is a myth that the president is peddling because he’s peddling a zero-sum vision of the world. But it really deepens to having national conversations about race and they’re very uncomfortable and I think that a huge part of this moment right now is because we’ve been kicking this can down the road and it’s been getting worse and worse and worse and there’s a huge fear around a changing America. And we can’t avoid that conversation. And we want to, in the short term, to win an election. But if we keep not talking about it, it’s only going to get worse. 

Jon Favreau 

Well this is, you know I keep having this thought about the 20/20 election where, to me there’s this central tension where, you know, Donald Trump wants to make this election about race and immigration and white identity politics. And I think that’s a fight that Democrats have to join, that we can’t avoid. At the same time, you know we just did a poll in Wisconsin and it was a messaging poll, and the messages that moved voters furthest away from Trump were economic in nature. It was about his Medicare cuts, his tax cuts, his trade war with China. How do we, how do we sort of reconcile the need to, you know battle Donald Trump on race, on issues of race, but also get an economic message through that we know will sort of galvanize a majority of people?

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Well, I think one of the things that we need to do is really dismantle this idea that it’s either race issues or class issues. We need to learn how to talk about this intersectionally. And it’s going to take a lot of white people. We need white people right now to do the work. We need white people to organize themselves and, and to do that kind of work. You know in my campaign there was this really phenomenal local organization but they’re also national in nature, they were once known as, well they’re still known as SURJ, Stand Up for Local Justice. In our community, they’ve kind of spun off into their own local community organization, but it’s, it’s white people talking to other white people about race and that, I think is a lot of what we’re going to need in addition to a whole lot of other work. Because racism is economic. And we need to, a lot of the long-term work that we have to do on a lot of different issues is educational. And there’s a reason that Donald Trump is using racism as a [1:11:54] cultural because it’s how he gets away with his corruption. It’s how he gets, that’s how he steals the bag. You know, it is, it is with racism. 

Jon Favreau 

Well, it’s a point too where, racism doesn’t only hurt people of color. It hurts white people as well because Donald Trump’s base isn’t making it any better from what’s happened.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Right, right. And he’s going to use racism and he’s going to try to, the reason he’s trying to center issues of race, of immigration, at cetera is to sync the economic agenda. He’s trying to eclipse it. And the only reason that that has power is because we refuse to talk about it. And so, race is going to be an issue and the key is, if we’re going to allow him to define that conversation or if we’re going to assert ourselves into that space and define that conversation.

Jon Favreau 

You gave a speech that went viral last week where you called on young people who find themselves being radicalized by white supremacy to quote, ‘Come back because there’s a mother waiting for you. I know there’s a teacher waiting for you. We will love you back. You are not too far gone.’ It struck me as a message that conveyed something that you don’t hear much in our political conversation, which is grace. What, what made you want to say that? 

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Well, a lot of it does have to deal with the fact that I have listened to those moms.

I was, maybe a day or two before, I was actually at the mall, in Queens. My, my now goddaughter, we were getting a christening dress for her and I was in this, I was actually in the Disney Store. And I, one of the employees at the store came to me and said, you know, I’m so thankful that you’re representing us and she said my son has been, is kind of falling into this funnel and, it’s really hard to feel like I’m losing him. And I hear this all the time, about families that are being torn apart by this radicalization and it’s hurting so many people. And this political polarization, it’s not just within our politics, it’s personal. People’s marriages are strained, their friendships are strained, they feel like they can’t even talk to their loved ones. And that is the power of white supremacy. That is what this cult-like culture that the president is cultivating is doing to us. And the only way that we’re going to get past this is with grace and it’s on grace on, on both ends. It’s not just the white supremacists and it’s not just young people that are falling into this funnel.

We need to have grace with ourselves to acknowledge our past mistakes. And I think in our conversations about race the immediate emotions that come up are defensiveness. You know, like if I, for example, pointed out something that you may have said in this conversation it’s like, well, I didn’t mean that. You know, there’s this defensiveness that comes up and I think that we have to show that conversations about race can be safe, they can be, even if you have made a mistake or even if you have stepped into outright hatred, that the conversation can still be safe. It can be loving, so long as we are at least open to the possibility of moving forward together. 

Jon Favreau 

Yeah, I struggle with this all the time because, you know, I am an Obama person, I worked for him for a long time. You know, I have this desire to not see this constant polarization and political warfare, Trump becomes president and there’s this debate about you know, are Trump voters racist, and clearly you see the rallies, you see some of the stuff online and there’s racism there. And then I wonder, like I don’t necessarily want to vilify people who vote for Trump, but at the same time, you also need to call racism out. And I don’t know how, even beyond Trump, I don’t know how we ever sort of piece this back together or where are the spaces for these conversations? It’s not Twitter. 

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

No, it’s certainly not. Well, first of all, I think the biggest mistake that we have, and it’s a trap that gets set by the right, whether intentionally or unintentionally, is just the frame of asking is blank racist. That is something that we have to pull ourselves out of. It’s not about asking whether Trump voters are racist. We need to talk about racism. Not racists. Racists, it’s a very two-dimensional boring conversation. Is something racist? Yes or no, and then you debate it— 

Jon Favreau 

And then what do you do?

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Right, what do you do. We need to talk about racism: its contours, its histories, where it manifests, how it’s used. Because, like all winning political phenomena, whether they’re good or bad in your opinion, they rely on coalition-building. So, Trump relied on a coalition and a core part of that coalition were racists. Building a coalition with all sorts of other people that could be susceptible to racist views if they were blanketed and layered and made people feel good about it not being a racist thing. And so there are a lot of people who support Trump that genuinely don’t believe that they are racist because we do not talk about or educate people on recognizing racism. And because we do not do that, it just allows itself to just, we get caught in this debate of is something racist and then a person uses their defensiveness, and they say well it’s not racist because I’m not racist and I believe this thing because it’s economic in nature, 

Jon Favreau 

Right. I was just listening to a podcast where some of my Democratic friends, who are very smart have been on winning presidential campaigns, said that their biggest fear in 2020 is that we nominate someone who has taken positions that are not supported by a majority of people in states that add up to 270. Do you think there is anything valid about that fear? And what do we sort of do about that fear? 

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Yeah, I think, I tend to think that people, a lot of folks, especially in DC, sometimes misunderstand the average voter. I think that people think that voters are more ideological than they are. I think that people think that voters cast their votes based on policy positions more than they actually do. And I think that what is actually important is how we message our positions, how we, not even defend them, how we evangelize them, how we talk about a vision for our future. And the only vision for our future that I think is winning is an audacious one.

And whether you like it or whether you hate it, a wall is a vision. It’s a tangible vision that is symbolic and representative and galvanizing and if we do not have an ambitious, inspiring, galvanizing vision, I think we risk losing even more. And it’s not about you know, and it’s all about how you message these issues that I think is more important than the actual positions that people take. And that, I think, has always been the historic weakness of the Democratic party, it’s something that we do not have institutions for. Republicans—messaging lines, I mean you see, you watch Fox News, any old schmo that’s in the Republican party goes on CNN and says, or goes on Fox News and they’ll use the same words the same terminology, their messaging is completely unified and it’s aggressive in winning over the electorate. 

Jon Favreau 

I always wonder why we have this problem on our side because a lot of these messages from Democrats are polled, right? Which is a problem all in itself. 

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

I believe it’s a huge problem.

Jon Favreau 

But the polling is not completely off, right? Like we know that the polling would probably tell us what you and I believe, which is some of these economically populist message really resonate.

Somehow though when they say it, when the candidates say it, it doesn’t ring true. You know, I mean you ran a campaign where, whether someone agreed with you or not, they saw you as authentic and inspiring and believing in what you were saying. How do you, like what advice do you give your colleagues and friends who are running in some of these tougher swing districts?

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Well, I think, first of all we have to become master storytellers. I think anyone who’s in public service needs to be a master storyteller. It’s not just about being a legislator. We have to be, it requires so many different skills. We have to be legislators. We have to be policymakers. But there’s this idea that if you’re a good enough legislator, you should just win re-election because you’re good at your job. But that is clearly not how politics works, we have to be master storytellers. And so my personal advice, in terms of storytelling, is to tell our stories and to make arguments with your five senses and not five facts. Use facts as supporting evidence, but you need to communicate and tell the stories in terms of, you know the smells that other people are smelling, the stress, how your heart is beating, we need to show that we are having the same human experience. And too often, it doesn’t come across that way because frankly a lot of people aren’t in DC, a lot of policy makers aren’t having the same human experience, there’s a lot of people in the country and that is what Trump has tapped into, the visceral. And I think our politics is our best when our head in our heart align, when the visceral also matches with the academic, and when are facts are not separated, or not that we have this hierarchy, but that they are put together because emotions are also information as well. And if we, I think, the amount of resentment that happened in 2016 that I think led to the Democratic loss, was the fact that we were telling implicitly, I feel like we had been telling people that what they are seeing is not what is happening. And that created a lot of resentment and people wanted to punish those who were doing that and I think that was an outlet for that.

Jon Favreau 

How much do you think, sort of our own history plays a role? I see you do this a lot, which I think is really effective, is talk about FDR, or you know, sort of line up progressive beliefs with progressive traditions and American traditions, you know. And I think Obama used to do this a lot and say that you know patriotism isn’t sort of airbrushed history and wearing the flag pin, patriotism is the Civil Rights Movement. That’s at the core of what this country has been about. Do you think the Democrats do that well enough?

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

No.

Jon Favreau 

Do you think we should do it more?

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

I think we need to do it more. And it’s not just about recounting the story, it’s about saying this is who we are, we need to—

Jon Favreau 

At our best.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

At our best, but this is also not even just at our best but it is who we are now, too, but we have to tell our story because America has always been a story of people who want, of some folks who want to cling to their own small vestiges of power and prevent us from progressing, and those who have been able to galvanize and bring us together and move us forward. And it’s always a stutter step between those two things in, in that move towards progress. And we need to tell our story because a huge part of hope is not just, you know hope isn’t optimism, and it’s not, it’s not just this naive belief that things will get better. Hope is saying this is where we’ve been, we have already done this, we can do this, there’s a strategy for doing it, but we need to take a leap and we need—it will only happen if we are courageous. It will only happen if we take a risk and there’s this idea that we can win without taking any risks and that is not, it’s just not how the world works. 

Jon Favreau 

I know. One of the things that sort of scares me about this coming election is, you know, in ‘08, we were able to run by saying, you know, the greatest risk you can take is doing the same thing over and over again. And because George W. Bush wasn’t going to be president again, there wasn’t as much fear in the electorate. And so people were willing to take a risk on someone completely new. I feel like heading into 2020 the emotion that sort of pervades everything, especially my Democrats, is this fear that we’re going to lose to Trump again, and it’s making a lot of Democrats more cautious than they would be and I sort of worry that that caution could lead to a bad place. 

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

I completely agree. I mean just from your gut, and it’s unfortunate because this is how authoritarians typically come into power, but coming from your gut, which so many voters vote on their gut more than people want to admit, especially in Washington. But if you have two options in front of you and one is self-assured, has a direction, saying this is where I want to go,

I know some of you may disagree with me, but I believe that this is my diagnosis of the country, this is our solution, this is how we’re going to move forward, versus another person that’s like I think this might be what it is but not quite that but this, that and the other. You have a self-assured leader and you have a timid one, people are going to go to where they feel a sense of certainty. Just, policy questions aside. And so if you have someone that’s constantly stutter stepping and back, you know backtracking, that does not inspire confidence in an electorate, especially in a time as tumultuous as this one. And I think what folks also need to realize is that this time is not just scary because Donald Trump is president. This time is scary, this time has been scary because people don’t know if they’re gonna be able to pay their rent at the end of the month. People don’t know if, when you wake up, if you walk out of your house, if god forbid you get hit by a car or slip off of a curb, if your life is going to be over because your health costs are going to be out of control. And that is the uncertainty that people are actually feeling and Trump is, is a huge destabilizing factor on top of all of that but at the end of the day, a lot of people are feeling an insane amount of economic insecurity as well and it’s concentrated in the people that Trump is hurting the most. 

Jon Favreau 

Right. And layered on top of all this of course is the climate crisis, you know. So, you propose the Green New Deal. This is something that requires a mass mobilization like we haven’t seen since World War Two, and it requires it urgently and it requires that at a time when, our political system is in crisis because one of our parties has been radicalized. Where do we begin to make real progress on this when, you know, our best hope is Democratic president, 51 Senators, no filibuster, and then you still dealing with like Joe Manchin?

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

It’s a huge challenge especially with Manchin as chairman of Energy and Commerce in the Senate. This is where I think a huge amount of public sentiment comes in. And when we first introduced the resolution, one of the biggest critiques that we get on the left is that it’s too much, it’s too sweeping. But energy policy is not just about putting solar panels on everyone’s roof. Our entire system is incentivized to destroying our planet and the only home that we live on and so long as fossil fuels are profitable and so long as low wages are profitable people are going to be economically marginalized and feel like a coal mine is their only hope. And so the reason it has to be so sweeping is because we need to give our entire economy, I think, a Golden Gate of retreat and decarbonization. And so, so that’s why we have to you know, that’s why we have to make a renewable energy job just as good of a quality as a coal job because coal jobs are unionized. And a lot of solar panel jobs are like these ad hoc, weird hourly, or like you have horrible catastrophic health insurance plans, and that’s a lot of the reason why people don’t want to switch over too. And so we need to address a lot of those underlying economic issues. And frankly, it’s going, the Green New Deal I think, is in many parts, is also an economic stimulus package for Main Street. You know, we had we had no problem blinking or snapping our fingers and passing, passing the stimulus package which created a large amount of political resentment as well because we build out Wall Street and did very little for Main Street. And you know this I think is the answer to that, is that I think [1:30:22] agree when people say oh this is so expensive. Well, we don’t care when these expenses go to bailing out big banks, but for some reason the idea of bailing out a generation seems unconscionable.

Jon Favreau 

Do you think that the next president should prioritize a Green New Deal, even over Medicare-for-all, like knowing that a president has I don’t know two major legislative initiatives before the midterms?

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Well, I think scientifically we have no choice but to put climate front and center. So in terms of that aspect we have to do it, but I do think that in making these massive investments, like if we’re going to make a million jo—if we’re going to make millions of jobs—I want those millions of jobs to have health insurance—

Jon Favreau 

Yes, need to have a safety net—

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

And high quality and that’s why I don’t think it’s necessarily either or, it’s going to say we’re going to make this investment and these are the requirements that this investment is funding.

Jon Favreau 

Yeah. So Republicans have already tried to make you the face of the Democratic party heading it to 2020. It’s a curious decision to me. I mean, I will tell you that in our Wisconsin poll, your net favorability is higher than most of our presidential candidates, including Joe Biden. What do you think about this? How do you, you know, do you feel like there’s an added responsibility because you have been made this notorious star on the right?

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

I mean, I think there’s there’s certainly a responsibility because there’s a certain power in that and so if they’re going to make me the focus then I get to determine, as a proxy what they focus on. And so if they’re going to spend all of their time trying to trash the Green New Deal, I think that’s great because the Green New Deal is enormously popular. Or like yesterday in this like little tiff with Barstool Sports—

Jon Favreau 

Yeah I saw that.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

If we want to get into a fight and you’re going to be the anti-union side, I will take that any day of the week. Please, go on the record bashing unions. Please, go on the record saying we shouldn’t have health insurance. Go on the record saying this country should only be for white people. And I will gladly take up that mantle and force them to be on the defense because people say oh like how risky is this if a presidential candidate, you know wins the primary on Medicare-for-all are they going to be too far left? These other schmoes are literal white supremacists and they’re not worried about that, right? So, I mean come on like this is an outrageous point to make and we have to be as galvanizing as possible. 

Jon Favreau 

Is one of the reasons you jumped in on that yesterday, because it’s so hard to get coverage of the labor movement and unions, like I noticed that you sort of pick your battles on Twitter it seems to me very strategically, thinking that there are some issues that just never break through in the normal political conversation. And if, you were saying earlier, if you can sort of fuse the politics with pop culture and what’s interesting, you can sort of get more people to pay attention.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Yeah, I mean that is something that I enjoy doing. Because at my core I come from the background of community organizing and in my primary election I won because I expanded the electorate 68 percent over the last off-year midterm primary. I talk to people who don’t vote. That’s my jam. I talked to young people, I talked to people of color, I talked to working-class people that say why should I consent to be governed by the lesser of two evils? This system doesn’t work for me. You know, I think one of the biggest misconceptions that we have in politics is that people who don’t vote are apathetic. And if anything sometimes I find them to be the most passionate about politics, and they’re just very heartbroken and dejected.

Jon Favreau 

How do you, how do you overcome that cynicism about the system that I think, I understand it. I mean, I’ve talked to these, a lot of these non-voters too and Democrats say: these should be our voters, they’re younger, they’re predominantly people of color, they’re poorer and then you know, some of the solution is like well we can get there by just sort of proposing more ambitious policies. But it seems like there’s something deeper going on.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

The only way you are going to get those voters is by actually telling the truth. And—

Jon Favreau 

Do you try to set expectations with them? Like I’m going to go fight for you but by the way, because one of the worries I had when Democrats won the house is, there’s gonna be a lot of expectation from people who don’t pay super close attention to politics that Democrats won the house, now everything’s going to be great. And we only control one house of Congress so we can’t promise that much, but is that going to create more disappointment? 

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Well, I don’t, when I go back home it’s not about winning, it’s about fighting. And every time I come home people say thank you for trying. Thank you for fighting for us. That’s the number one thing that I hear when I go back home and it’s because they know it’s not, I come from a district that is like D+24 or something like that. People in my community vote for Democrats no matter what, but they don’t like Democrats. You know, it’s not, they don’t love the party and I think that’s the mistake that people, that we have. We take, we take young people for granted. We take communities of color for granted. We take working class people for granted. And we just say, oh, well you’re going to vote for us no matter what because we’re the lesser of two evils. So like you should, there’s this entitlement that’s like it’s your fault you don’t vote. It’s your fault that you don’t vote. And if you only voted we would pass all of these things for you. That’s bullshit. That’s bullshit. Yeah, and that’s why unseated a 20 year incumbent that was the fourth most powerful person in the party and the argument that I made people, you know, some people were saying oh, well, he’s going to be the next speaker. Do we really want to give up that power to our district? And I said how much of that power has been used to improve our lives. How much of it? And I think that’s when people were saying, you know what, we should have a change. 

Jon Favreau 

Yeah, and I don’t always understand it because like I think politicians and people who’ve been in Washington for a long time believe that people who are disengaged from politics, like they believe that everyone pays as closely attention to politics as we all do. And so if they don’t automatically know that Donald Trump is the worst person on earth, they don’t automatically know that voting for a Democrat is the best thing to do, then it’s their problem. And I think we don’t realize that people are busy and living their lives and there’s a certain obligation that comes with citizenship, but there’s also an obligation on behalf of our leaders. 

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Well, not only that but deep in that message that you’re talking about where it’s like oh, well, you should know that if you don’t vote, Trump will win. What you’re saying, well what people say, what that argument says is you should vote for us for your survival. We don’t tell white folks in the midwest that. It’s like, we tell communities of color, the other side will kill you, and we won’t. So—

Jon Favreau 

Isn’t that inspiring message to get to the poll… 

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Right. And so why is it a surprise that young people don’t vote, that working-class communities don’t vote. Why is it a surprise that, the union vote did not turn out in 2016, because none of these messages were galvanizing. And, you know, I think that we could have permanent majorities if we told the truth and fought for people and actually took a risk. And I think the reason people appreciate, even if they disagree with me, I hear this a lot from even Republicans that I talk to that say, you know, I may not agree with you but I respect you, is because they know that it’s not a show. Like they know that I am legitimately risking things to make people’s lives better. And I think that that’s what a public servant has to do. And I think that’s what all public servants have to do regardless of your party. You, it is a service, we have to risk and sacrifice thing real things of ourselves, not pretend things. And I think that is what is winning and I think in terms of that ethos, people vote for ethoses has as well. They vote for vision and ethos and how their communities are galvanizing in a moment. I think that was a huge reason why Bernie Sanders was successful in 2016, because no one had ever heard of Medicare-for-all and tuition-free colleges like those were, I think we underestimate how much these policies were put into the map and how they’ve become mainstream in such a short period of time.

Jon Favreau 

Well, and it wasn’t just his policies too, I always remember thinking back to Bernie’s announcement speech in 2016 and the very first line of the speech is just, I believe we need a political and economic revolution. And it’s just like like, oh, you know what his worldview is. I saw you talking, when you spoke to David Remnick about, sort of trying to understand different candidates worldviews and how important that is. 

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Yes. 

Jon Favreau 

What do you believe is the world-view that succeeds in 2020?

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Well, I think the world view, you know, and this is also very much from Obama’s practice and Marshall Ganz too, you have to tell the story of me, us and now. And that story of me, us and now should coincide, you know, the worldview is the diagnosis after telling those three stories. And so I think the world view right now—and I think a lot of candidates have kind of gotten this but I don’t know if they’re getting it just because it pulls well or if because, or because they’ve deeply internalized the reality of America today—and it’s that our system and our politics, our structure is designed to help the powerful and we do need to have these huge changes. We do need a political and economic revolution, but we are at a crossroads right now and the crossroads, and I have to I think we have to tell the story of the crossroads, where our nation is coming apart, and it will continue to come apart or we can use this moment as an opportunity to transform. But there is no going back to where we were and I think that is the bitter pill that is very hard for a lot of people to swallow. But the America that we had even under Obama is gone. That is the nature of time, you know. The America that we had with Obama, the America of George Bush was forever gone, and we have to decide how we’re going to transform but there is no staying the same anymore. And—

Jon Favreau 

And taking that step forward requires a certain level of courage and ambition, but that’s always been the way it was.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Right and as I think, as humanity evolves, we can always evolve for the better and I think we’re almost scared of living in a more advanced world. Because I think that in, we have to, the way we advance as a society, a more advanced society is one where everyone can go to the doctor. A more advanced society is one where every person has the opportunity to educate themselves as far as they see fit for their own lives. That, you know it sounds like science fiction to a lot of people but science fiction is written for the societies we’re going to live in decades from now. And these policies are the ones that are policies of an advanced society. So we’re going to have to decide if we’re going to be a regressive society because we’re used to it, because we’re used to barbarism and we’re used to $300 insulin and we think that not having $300 insulin is quote unquote unrealistic, or we can actually realize that reality is what we create and that we have all of the money to do all of these things, we just have to decide that this is going to be our value as a country. 

Jon Favreau 

Congresswoman, thank you so much for joining us. This was great. 

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Absolutely, thank you for having me.