The Republican National Committee on Thursday took a heavy swipe at Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez – the 28-year-old Latina who unseated a long-serving Democratic congressman in New York’s June primary – comparing her to Venezuelan strongman Nicolás Maduro.
A Bronx native with Puerto Rican roots, Ocasio-Cortez is a democratic socialist and – as of less than two months ago – a leading figure on the progressive left, which has notched a handful of high-profile Democratic primary wins in 2018 while advocating for programs like “Medicare-for-all” and tuition-free college.
In their email, the RNC calls Ocasio-Cortez the “Mini-Maduro Foreboding The Future Of Democrats” and says she is “leading The Democrat Party To The Left With Nothing More Than An Unsubstantiated, Factually Incorrect Socialist Wish List.”
Maduro is the successor to Hugo Chávez, who ruled from 1999 to 2013. His government is nominally socialist, but with Maduro’s assorted power grabs and silencing of critics, Venezuela is not governed democratically. It is currently in the grips of a devastating economic and political collapse owing in large part to a drop in oil prices.
Conservative critics, especially online, routinely reference Venezuela’s dire state of affairs when arguing against progressive left policies.
Ocasio-Cortez communications director Corbin Trent dismissed the attack in a text message, arguing that Republicans were misleading voters in an effort to distract from key issues, including President Donald Trump’s conduct.
“The RNC knows that the American people support our policies by wide margins. They want universal health care. They want Wall Street to pay their fair share of taxes. They want to raise the minimum wage,” he said. “I guess if you can’t beat our ideas, you have to lie about them. Meanwhile, the Republican Party is standing in lock step behind a President who abuses human rights and wants to crush the free press which, to me, sounds like a Mini Maduro in the making.”
The RNC, in its email, ticks off a series of media criticism and fact checks – some more clear than others, but all unflattering – of Ocasio-Cortez’s recent remarks on Israel and the Palestinians, economic statistics and the relative cost of programs like single-payer health care. It also makes note of her support for the “Abolish ICE” movement, the controversial agency tasked with arresting and deporting undocumented immigrants in the US.
Since defeating 10-term incumbent Rep. Joe Crowley, a rumored future candidate for House speaker, in New York’s 14th Congressional District, Ocasio-Cortez has traveled the country campaigning for progressive and democratic socialist candidates.
Last month, she stumped alongside Vermont’s independent Sen. Bernie Sanders in Kansas. Ocasio-Cortez’s politics, like Sanders’, are more in line with the social democracies of Scandinavia than those pushed by the regimes of Chávez and Maduro.