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What AOC can teach the GOP

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As 2020 edges ever nearer, the Republicans have made it clear that the brunt of their attacks on Democrats will be accusing their blue-cladded opposition as pushers for the S-word: Socialism. Attempting to drag down even moderate Democrats by painting the party as chock full o’nuts, part of this attack is tying the Democratic brand to its more radical members, such as Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. However, instead of berating her as a loony lefty, could conservatives actually learn something from her?

Republicans have put much of their eggs in the basket of economic growth, claiming that their free market policies will be the best at job creation and boosting Gross Domestic Products. At the same time they claim such policies will also be the most beneficial to families and workers, whose pockets will be lined by the trickle down of corporate tax cuts. But these neoliberal measurements of success mask the fact that working class wages have been slowed by deindustrialization caused by a religious focus on profits, while childbearing and marriage are becoming less practiced by a populace whose prospective parents spend their time in cubicles to keep their heads above water.

Enter the brashly anti-corporate economics of Ocasio-Cortez. Her favored solutions include paid parental leave and a $15 minimum wage. She has favored workers rights and antitrust legislation. Other progressives, like Bernie Sanders, have focused heavily on protectionism to preserve high paying jobs that have historically provided for the large nuclear families Republicans gush about to Evangelical voters. Such policies have been attempted in countries as conservative as Hungary to as “Socialist” as Finland, and have worked, with Hungary experiencing less divorces and abortions while having more marriages. 

While the chances that Republicans break from free market orthodoxy is slim, given that fiscal hawks still slam child tax credits as “conservative social engineering”, there is hope. Newcomer Josh Hawley has proposed laws that target everyone from pharmaceutical corporations to video game companies, while stalwart Marco Rubio has spoken of returning dignity to work and giving financial breathing room for parents. The election of Ocasio-Cortez is a sign that voters are turning away from the market’s “creative destruction”, and if Republicans are to get serious about protecting families and workers, Ocasio-Cortez could be a good starting point. 

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