The safe assumption is, on the evening of Jan. 11, 1989, as President Ronald Reagan delivered his farewell address to the American people, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's (AOC) parents were preoccupied. Nine months later, AOC was born. Sadly, had her parents listened to Reagan that night, they could have gained invaluable insights to share later with their democratic socialist-to-be daughter.
Reagan shared several pearls of wisdom that evening – wisdom clearly lost on AOC. Among them:
1. America has embarked upon, "a rediscovery of our values and our common sense. Common sense told us that when you put a big tax on something, the people will produce less of it. So we cut the people's tax rates, and the people produced more than ever before. The economy bloomed like a plant that had been cut back and could now grow quicker and stronger. Our economic program brought about the longest peacetime expansion in our history: real family income up, the poverty rate down, entrepreneurship booming and an explosion in research and new technology. We're exporting more now than ever because American industry became more competitive. …"
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2. "Common sense also told us that to preserve the peace we'd have to become strong again after years of weakness and confusion. So we rebuilt our defenses – and this new year we toasted the new peacefulness around the globe. … The lesson of all this was, of course, that because we're a great nation, our challenges seem complex. It will always be this way. But as long as we remember our first principles and believe in ourselves, the future will always be ours. … Countries across the globe are turning to free markets and free speech – and turning away from the ideologies of the past. ..."
3. "Democracy, the profoundly good, is also the profoundly productive. … 'We the People' tell the government what to do; it doesn't tell us. 'We the People' are the driver – the government is the car. And we decide where it should go, and by what route, and how fast. Almost all the world's constitutions are documents in which governments tell the people what their privileges are. Our Constitution is a document in which 'We the People' tell the government what it is allowed to do. 'We the People' are free. This belief has been the underlying basis for everything I tried to do these past eight years. … There's a clear cause and effect here that is as neat and predictable as a law of physics: as government expands, liberty contracts. …"
4. "… one of the things I'm proudest of … (is) the resurgence of national pride that I called 'the new patriotism.' This national feeling is good, but it won't count for much, and it won't last unless it's grounded in thoughtfulness and knowledge. An informed patriotism is what we want. And are we doing a good enough job teaching our children what America is and what she represents in the long history of the world? … Those of us who are over 35 or so years of age grew up in a different America. We were taught, very directly, what it means to be an American, and we absorbed almost in the air a love of country and an appreciation of its institutions … you got … (these values) from the neighborhood. … Or you could get a sense of patriotism from school. And if all else failed, you could get a sense of patriotism from the popular culture … the idea that America was special. … Things have changed … well-grounded patriotism is no longer the style. Our spirit is back, but we haven't re-institutionalized it. We've got to do a better job of getting across that America is freedom – freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of enterprise – and freedom is special and rare. It's fragile; it needs protection. We've got to teach history based not on what's in fashion but what's important. … If we forget what we did, we won't know who we are. I am warning of an eradication of that – of the American memory that could result, ultimately, in an erosion of the American spirit. Let's start with some basics – more attention to American history and a greater emphasis of civic ritual. … If your parents haven't been teaching you what it means to be an American, let 'em know and nail 'em on it. …"
Three decades later, in AOC, we have a congresswoman who denigrates America as "garbage." We have a woman representing constituents who knows little about American history and the values that once made our nation great. We have an elected official who, despite having an economics major, has little understanding of tax incentives and budgets. We have a legislator who, prior to taking office, admitted little knowledge on Middle East matters, yet now asserts herself as an expert by condemning Israel for "occupying" Palestine.
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Despite Reagan's call for an "informed patriotism," in AOC we have neither – her lack of the former inhibits her ability to possess the latter. Instead, she seeks to totally destroy a system she fails to understand, replacing it with one which, historically, has experienced nothing but abject failure.
Meanwhile, the media promote AOC as some sort of folk hero – a promotion most recently landing her on the cover of Time magazine. The cover story, written by an AOC supporter of the same age, is built upon the false narrative that their generation, denied its own economic success, is ready for change. Time's young author says of their generation that they have "never experienced American prosperity in our adult lives," which is why millennials are embracing democratic socialism. Having reached adulthood in 2009, within nine years that generation enjoyed an economy ranked as the world's most competitive for the first time in a decade by the World Economic Forum.
Reagan ended his farewell address referencing early Pilgrim John Winthrop's description of the America he imagined as a shining "city upon a hill." Asking "how stands the city," Reagan proudly proclaimed America, "still stands strong and true. … Her glow has held steady no matter what storm" she endured. However, the socialist storm AOC favors is a Hurricane Katrina in-waiting. Hopefully, an informed public, recognizing what Katrina did to New Orleans – and despite the media's naive promotion of AOC's ideology – will recognize socialism's similar destructive potential to impact the city upon a hill.