As a conservative, I never thought the day would come when I would agree with Democratic Socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez — but when she tweeted on Saturday that her St. Louis event (which I attended) had “inspired me,” I had to admit that she was right.
I would bet a considerable amount of money that we don’t agree for the same reasons, however.
Ocasio-Cortez, amid a full-scale Twitter assault on exiting Missouri Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill, took a moment to remind everyone that she had attended a rally in St. Louis — a rally intended to help newcomer Cori Bush topple longtime incumbent Missouri Democratic Rep. William “Lacy” Clay. (RELATED: Ocasio-Cortez Strikes Back At McCaskill, Accuses Her Of ‘Covering For The GOP’)
In fact, I actually went to Missouri after my primary. I met w Ferguson activists + progressive organizers.
A conservative even came to embed at one of our rallies there. You can tell she was inspired + struggled w/ Fox News bc our message resonated:pic.twitter.com/P0ywHxhC4V
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) December 29, 2018
Mentioning my appearance at that rally, Ocasio-Cortez tweeted, “A conservative even came to embed at one of our rallies there. You can tell she was inspired + struggled w/ Fox News bc our message resonated.”
So let’s just get down to brass tacks, shall we?
Yes, I attended the rally. For a number of reasons. I went to see what the left’s newest darling was like in person. I went to take a measure of the crowd — both the numbers and the tone. And I went to see how her message resonated with the general public.
Yes, I struggled with Fox News. Also for a number of reasons. I struggled because Skype TV hits are awkward and I never really know where to look. I struggled because it was about 5 a.m. CST when I did the segment and I had kids asleep just down the hall. I struggled because, other than the occasional hit with NRATV, I had never done live television before. Truth be told, I much prefer radio.
And finally, yes, I was inspired.
But I was not inspired by her calls for “free” college, because the emotional undertow in that room was not enough to make me forget that nothing is actually “free,” and that government cannot give anything to anyone without first confiscating it from someone else. It was not enough to make me forget economics and the fact that flooding the market with bachelor’s degrees would render them all but meaningless.
I was not inspired by calls for “Medicare for all,” because I spent five years working in a military hospital and then eight years reporting on scandals within the VA health care system — and while I have nothing but the utmost respect for those with whom I served, I know from experience that the best way to guarantee longer wait times and substandard care is to add more bureaucracy.
What really inspired me, truth be told, was not the event at all but the aftermath of it. For weeks, the hate mail came, accusing me of being heartless and cruel for refusing to say that the government not only should but must be responsible for providing health care and education. Messages poured in via Twitter and Facebook. A few people even stalked my Instagram — which has never been used for politics and was a place I hadn’t even posted in over a year. One letter came to my house, benign in content, but sending that oh-so-subtle “we know where you live” threat. Stephen Colbert even did a segment ridiculing me on national television.
Some people, in the face of such attacks, wouldn’t be “inspired” to do much more than drop out of public discourse and avoid politics altogether. The frequency and intensity of the attacks instead inspired me to do the opposite.
Perhaps it was the Army training and the knowledge that no one ever shoots at you unless you’re close to the target. Perhaps it was a result of my education in reformed theology — and the focus on not just being able to repeat what you believe but why you believe it. Perhaps it was due to the fact that I was raised by parents who encouraged me to learn how to think for myself rather than telling me what to think. I’d like to think it was all of the above.
So, Rep.-elect Ocasio-Cortez, you did inspire me — in a roundabout way. But you inspired me to plant my feet more firmly on the ground where my flag is planted. You inspired me to defend all the more vocally the Constitution of the United States of America. You inspired me to fight the creep of socialism with everything I have. And you inspired me to raise my children to do the same.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.