Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has garnered a swell of well-deserved attention after the 28-year-old socialist democrat's stunning upset defeat of a ten-term incumbent (US Rep. Joe Crowley) in the closed Democratic primary for NY-14. The senior congressman chairs the House Democratic Caucus and was considered a strong contender to replace Nancy Pelosi's position within the party.
Portraying Crowley as the too-cozy, career politician that he is, Ocasio-Cortez rode the wave of Bernie Sanders-style democratic socialism still fomenting within the ranks of the Democratic Party. Her success has also captivated and inspired women, young people, and ethnic minorities with an interest in politics.
But setting aside identity politics, what principles of governance and policy proposals does Ocasio-Cortez support, and will these benefit the demographic groups that find her so inspiring?
From a libertarian perspective, the answer is yes and no.
Ocasio-Cortez hails the Affordable Care Act as a "great step forward," while acknowledging that for many Americans costs are still too high. The truth is, the costs of both premiums and deductibles didn't remain high despite "ObamaCare," they skyrocketed because of ObamaCare.
And at this point in history, we have no good reason to believe that federal interventions into the economy by Washington legislators and bureaucrats will do anything but increase prices despite their best intentions, just like they did for university tuition, just like they did for housing prices, and just like they did for health care costs ever since 1953 when the federal Health Agency became a cabinet level department.
Ocasio-Cortez considers housing to be a human right, but doesn't offer any reasons why the policies she supports to implement this principle would be any different from those policies enacted by Democrats like Bill Clinton in the past, which fueled the fires of greedy Wall Street malinvestment for massive profits, while creating an unsustainable and unstable economy, which collapsed in 2007, devastating the economic prospects of millennials just as the first of them were entering the job market, and prompting Congress to socialize Wall Street's losses by squeezing struggling middle class taxpayers for billion dollar bailouts.
On gun policy, Ocasio-Cortez supports pathologizing millions of gun owners for the individual actions of a tiny minority of people, and increasing federal involvement in what should be a state and local issue entirely. She also amazingly suggests that the gun industry should not be allowed to donate money to congressional campaigns.
Despite these major areas of disagreement with libertarians, however, Ocasio-Cortez does support some policies that libertarians can align with. By taking such a strong stand against the military-industrial complex and the imperial presidency's endless wars of foreign aggression, Ocasio-Cortez may win over some libertarians, for whom U.S. foreign policy is the most pressing danger to American liberty and prosperity.
On criminal justice reform and immigration policy, Ocasio-Cortez is clearly opposed to the vast and unchecked police state that has been growing in power and influence in the United States for nearly a century now, trammeling on the the liberties of millions of people and taking in billions of dollars worth of ill-gotten spoils as far as libertarians are concerned. They agree with Ocasio-Cortez that the private prison system and corporate federal contractors are the worst "welfare queens" on the federal dole.
It's fascinating that where libertarians and Ocasio-Cortez agree, they really agree, and where they disagree, they really disagree. Still in the final analysis, they have more in common than any libertarian could ever find in common with the likes of establishment politician, Joe Crowley, an outspoken supporter of the Wall Street TARP bailouts and the 2003 Iraq War. To him, good riddance!