Practice English Speaking&Listening with: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez | SXSW 2019

Difficulty: 0

So this is quite the crowd yeah nothing new for you, I presume that

All kinds of

Records that there was a huge queue going down the stairs and around the building. Is that true?

Have you guys been waiting a line for a while?

Well, I hope it's worth it

I know but I'm really excited to be here and to be able to have this conversation with you on one of my favorite topics

But first I just want to introduce you although you're someone who needs no introduction

the youngest

congresswoman in the house

From the great state of New York the 14th district which encompasses parts of Bronx and queens any local command

And my name is Brianna cray, I'm here from the intercept which

All of you might know but is a non-profit independent news organization that was founded about five years ago

By Jeremy Scahill and Laura Poitras and Glenn Greenwald's and today we focus on publishing

Independent news about corruption and the environment criminal justice surveillance war technology all the interesting things

And I want to tell you up top that if you want to tweet about this event and follow along you should use the hashtag

AOC intercept


The thing that makes you really stand out I think is the extent to which you've gotten so many people

engaged about a subject which frankly can be a little bit dry and that is politics and

Particularly the extent to which you've engaged a lot of younger people in the political process. I mean your your

Instagram feeds get an incredible amount of views you

Set records on

C-span for the amount of times that people have watched these clips

It might not be a very high bar to be but you beat it

So I want to ask you first and foremost, you know, why do you think it is that you've engaged people in this way?

well, I think

part of what happened last year was a little bit of a cracking system and

Even before

the primary and everything else that happened when when I was

Part of the team and making the campaign video ahead of the win it opened with this

line that said women like me aren't supposed to run for office and it's because

young people with with the norms and the systems and

an electoral system that's dominated by special interests and dark money and

Rules of seniority and all of these things young people aren't supposed to run

Working-class people aren't supposed to run people that have not been groomed

for a very long time aren't supposed to run let alone win and when we did yesterday, I mean yesterday it feels like

When when we did last year?

I think it kind of created this shock in the system where suddenly a lot of other people said, wait a second

Maybe I can do this too. And I think that is what is behind the surge. It's not like this top-down

Organizing apparatus, but it's really this movement starting to translate into

More of our electoral politics than then we probably anticipated

You know

What's funny is that this might be end up being the longest conversation?

That we've had despite the fact that I feel like we've been kind of circling each other for a while

I actually started at the intercept I think two days after it published its first article on you. Oh


the intercept is one of the first publications to really start covering your race because if it's hard to remember that now

That you are you know

such a trailblazer and such a popular political figure but in the in the spring of

2018 this all seemed like a bit of a long shot you were going up against one of the most powerful representatives in the state

It's one have a lot of influence and seniority


It was it's been quite the ride to be able to kind of

Start my career and start covering your beat the AOC beat if you will

And be there for your amazing

Primary victory and to see that look on your face. Yeah. It was a genuine registration. I'm surprised yeah

So now that your your you know a few months into your actual tenure

Is there anything in particular that you think you've learned that you didn't expect? Oh, man

What I've learned, I mean there's so much that you're learning every single day

you know and and every moment kind of represents a certain transition of sorts, so there was this crazy period

Of course, there was everything that we were doing before the primary and what we were learning up to that day

Then there was this insane period between the primary election in the general election

And then the general election and swearing-in and now is kind of about two months into our first term

and so there's each one of those things carries a huge lesson, but I think in the last two months, it's been really

fascinating to see

Exactly, you know we have this idea that

DC is dominated by dark money and that like lobbyists are hiding in people's, you know closets or whatever like Boop like

Vote for oil I'm like whatever it is

But it doesn't you know, it doesn't work like that. And so it's been very

Fascinating to see how subtle these very powerful

Influences make their way and and that is what makes them powerful is that there's you know

Sometimes it it is very transactional and it's like here's a check, you know

We have a relationship now

But a lot of times it's much more subtle than that and then the language and all of this stuff all of these little pieces

Add up to the reality that people sense and feel which is that the culture

that is governing Washington DC is

extremely separated from the reality of what everyday people are experiencing and feeling

Does that awareness of how?

Many cell influences. There are in the political process

Undemocratic influences. They're on the political process

I don't want to this isn't a conversation about 2020, but I'm curious how much that influences your

Decision-making and how much you think voters should attend to that when they select candidates and you know how you can

Start to tell or distinguish between candidates who may or may not have made efforts to distance themselves from those influences

I think it's really important and

It you know there there are some aspects to it that we should look for in terms of litmus test, you know

Does it can't has a candidate rejected corporate PAC money for example, but I think it also goes much deeper than that

And and you really need to look at the overall coherence and consistency

of a person's policy positions and when you see that they're consistently voting or they're consistently acting or

Defending certain interests you do have to ask yourself

why and sometimes that does go a little bit deeper than just have they taken money from a corporate PAC but

But it has to do with with a lot more influences as well

And so, you know, I think that that's something that's really important to consider

But again, I think it's it's really looking at the overall platform and and picture that any one

candidate or

elected official presents, you know

What is the story that they tell I think is extremely important to ask and to look for of people

So I think this is a good point to start to pivot into the main subject of remarks here today

Which is to talk about this race class divider this alleged raised class divide that

percolated up, I think in the aftermath of 2016 when Donald Trump's victory after a campaign that was so


Racist I'll say not not racialized which is the first thing you all kind of been prized today right flavored like all these language

Tinged like I think he's but he's one of the few that you can kind of say

The term dog whistling is it's it's too subtle. Yeah

It gives them too much credit. Right? Right. So, you know following his win there were all of these

Gnostics about what actually caused it and the fact that he was so expressed where other people have been

Subtle made one camp kind of form that say it was predominantly

Primarily and sometimes even exclusively about racism and another camp emerged that said well

He was also speaking to a lot of populist things. He really

talked about trade a lot and

activated people's resentment around the TPP and

for some reason these has been kind of

painted as mutually exclusive

Rationale, what do you make about?

well, I think that the effort to divide race and class has always been the tool of

The powerful to prevent everyday working people from taking control of the government


is supposed to work for them and

So you see this?


So I think you actually see the beginnings of this, you know

2016 I think was a really stark example of this

But you actually see some of the roots of this and you see a lot of the roots of the issues that we have

right now

Take really start to take hold in the late 70s and during the 80s and one perfect example

I think a perfect example of how

special interests and the powerful have pitted

White working-class Americans


brown and black working-class Americans in order to just screw over all working-class Americans



Reaganism in the 80s when he started talking about welfare queens

So you think about this image welfare queens and what he was really trying to talk about was this who's painting this photo?

he's painting this like really resentful vision of


black women who were doing nothing that were sucks on our country, right and

it's this whole tragedy of the commons type of

Thinking thinking where it's like because these one this one specific group of people that you are already kind of

Subconsciously primed to resent you give them a different reason

That's not explicit racism, but still read it in a racist caricature

It gives people a logical

Realisable reason to say oh ya know toss out the whole social safety net

yeah, and then as a result, we are all devastated and

what we're dealing with in 29 2016 I think was like the reckoning of that again, which is

Yep, you wages have stayed flat for 30 years

Our nation is being more productive and more wealthy as a whole than ever before but that wealth is being enjoyed

By a very small amount of people and the reason for it is not systemic inequality or runaway hyper

Capitalism or the fact that we've taken away all the guardrails of a responsible Society. The reason is Mexicans

you know and

That's the reason



This is a it is an old trope, but we're getting conned and

we can start fighting over each other and this that and the other and the wall and

whatever, but this is why I say that it's we need to be really zeroing in on the malpractice of

governance and how

You know

Special interests have captured the only tool that we have to govern ourselves

fairly and not

at a profit

So how then do we redirect let me let me ask this first. I think that your point about the fact that

It seems as though Republicans generally

But Trump has been able to to fill a void right to kind of speak to these, you know

economic means

So-called economic anxiety, whatever you want to call it precarity the stagnation of wages, etc

That have been felt across the board. Of course, not just and

among the white working-class

And that he's able to speak to those interests almost in a vacuum

Like nobody else is speaking to them and I think that's something that that's so interesting

Is that you have risen you you ran a campaign and we have seen many popular politicians now running campaigns

But highlight issues which are characterized as fringe and on the left

But which have a plurality of support among not even just Democratic voters, but Republican voters as well

So why do you think it's taken so long to get candidates who are pushing issues like Medicare for all a green new deal?

$15 minimum wage to the foreground I


it's because

You know, I

So I'll I'll kind of go back with a story because even though people, you know

They try to characterize my district as far left and oh my god

every socialist in America lives in like East Bronx and queens or whatever like

It's but there are a lot of Trump voting

pockets of my district and I talked to these folks and

I'll never forget, you know

And it's there are parts of my district that look like the middle of the country believe it or not. And

And I remember on the remember. I'll never forget this one older woman who came to me and said, you know, I

always voted Democrat because growing up my dad told me that Democrats were the people that fight for

the working man and

We stopped and


Working man and woman and people is the majority of this country

And so what we I think we saw was now both parties frankly. I

abdicated their responsibility

And it was just no one was fighting

for working people who were struggling and so as a result it almost created this opportunity and

You can take all of this anger and direct it

To a negative and destructive end that allows a small group of people to benefit a great amount

Or you have to take a really bold


to bring it the other way and direct it to the possibility of what we can accomplish together and I think

The thing that is really hard for

for people to sometimes see is that when we are on this path of a slow erosion and

a slow slow slow just like

Move away from what we've always been we'll be a hundred miles

You'll you know, you'll realize you won't even realize that you've drifted a hundred miles

So when someone's talking about our core, it's like oh, this is radical

But this isn't radical. This is what we've always been

it's just that now we we've strayed so far away from what has

really made us powerful

And just and good and equitable unproductive. And so I think all of these things sound radical

compared to where we are, but where we are is not a good thing and this idea of like 10% better from

Garbage it

Shouldn't be what we settle for. It's like this like it feels like

Moderate is not a stance. It's just an attitude toward life of like

Don't hold it back tell me how you feel about incrementalism

But here's the thing that upsets me is that

We've become so cynical that

that we view or

we view cynicism as an intellectually superior attitude and

we view ambition as

youthful naiveté

When we think about the greatest things we have ever accomplished as a society have been

ambitious acts of vision and

The math is like worship now for what like for what


Like to joke that incremental ISM has ruined my dating life

Because I have been on several dates now where people have argued with me. Not any ideological

measure per se but the the pure merits of

Incrementalism and when I find myself doing in response is often a booking some of the themes that I think make

Your approach so powerful which is to foreground the moral question

Mm-hm and to ask you know

if we say that X Y & Z is gonna take so many years if climate change is a great example because we've not been

Told we don't have but 12 years, right?

Who who actually?

Is hurt by by kicking the can down the road

that's right, because there was a lot of conversation in 2016 about how I'm kind of

you know irresponsible or naive was to

Pursue some of these big-ticket items and not a lot of conversation about the privilege that it takes to say

Well, we'll deal with this in the next generation, you know

So I I do want to connect this back a little bit more to the issues

Involving race because while you think that there is a great deal of popularity

These programs are pull after polls show overwhelmingly popular

There is this emergent narrative that says these kind of New Deal style

Universal programs are not


Diverse communities and that there's a lot of skepticism that I think is understandable among certain, you know

Non-white communities that says well these programs were floated before and they did a lot to do

Fix a lot of people have a lot of people in America, but they systemically cut out

Us yeah, you know

We weren't able to take advantage of them in the same way and they had the effect of widening the wealth gap and in other

Kinds of gaps. So how do we

Connect the utility

of these kind of New Deal programs to communities that feel like they have been insufficiently served by them in the past, you know, and

That's an excellent question because it's it was one of the founding questions with which we started approaching

at the draft of the green New Deal resolution


One of the things about history is that it is often revisionist, you know, Martin Luther King is cast as this

angelic person that never made anyone mad and just asked for civil rights and got it and and

Unions were always just seen as like this great powerful thing that nobody died

For a 40-hour work week and a weekend

And it's a similar thing, you know

the other way with the New Deal is that we act as though the New Deal wasn't racist and the New Deal was an extremely

economically racist policy that drew literal red lines around black and brown communities and

And basically it invested in

White America and what it did was that it allowed?

white Americans to have access to home loans that black and brown Americans did not have access to

Giving them the largest form of intergenerational wealth, which is real estate

And so this is really it really accelerated many parts of an already

horrific racial wealth gap that continues to persist today

So how do we turn this around and what we did with the green new deal is?

this is why the

intersectional frontline community aspect of the green New Deal is so important because it allows

indigenous communities to lead black and brown communities to have a certain

self-determination that has not existed in public policy

For these communities before and so one of the ways that we do that is we say we fix the pipes in Flint first

we clean the air in the Bronx first we

Rebuild the the electrical grids in Puerto Rico, and we fully funds



We fully fund the pensions of coal miners in West Virginia at the same time

because and

the reason that we do these things is because the truth of the matter is that economically

civically and beyond our

destinies and our prosperity and our well-being is tied its inextricably linked and when

we pursue public policy in a way that

Unlinks us from each other it is not sustainable

It's not sustainable eventually it catches up to you and it catches up to you in racial resentment

That and that racial resentment is a political tool to dismantle the economic

Advocacy that we need to have for ourselves

so I think your point about how

Important intersectionality isn't in the design of these New Deal programs is really well made

But I think there's this interesting debate that's happening. Where

Instead of arguing that programs like the New Deal these so-called Universal programs

Should be designed to avoid the mistakes of the past so that they should be more intersectional

There is a rising skepticism of them on the whole

And a feeling that instead of those programs

Marginalized communities to be better served by programs that are racially specific like racially targeted programs

that would put

resolving racial weight great race gaps rather first

and I think that raises a very really obvious political conundrum, even if kind of ethical concerns are


One would have empathy for them. Right? So the political conundrum is if we live in a country, that's still

70 percent white which is a number I think shocks a lot of people but if you include

White Hispanics it actually is that big?

Who often vote?

similarly to non-hispanic whites

You know, what as a political cost. Let's say of saying we're going to bow your hat and with a program like

Reparations, how much do you think those considerations should be made?


You know, it's a good question, I think that one of the things that we've seen from early polling actually is that I

think that we should

Distance ourselves and start getting away from this idea that


We should only care about our selves

Because when we really do start to assert and believe and understand and see how our how our destinies are tied

it doesn't it we kind of get away from this idea that only

You know people of color care about other people of color and only white people care about other white people and so on

There are a lot of systems that we have to dismantle but also it does get into this

Interesting area of where we are as a country about identity


Like what does it mean to be black?

Who is you know who is black and who is and especially as our country becomes more biracial and multi?

Multiracial same thing with being Latino same thing it brings up all these questions of like passing and you know, things like that

But but I do think it is important that we have to have substantive conversations about race beyond

beyond like what is racist and what is not and if someone says something

Racist does that make them racist like we we need to get away from talking

Well, not that we have to get away from talking about racism. It's important that we talk about racism but

Because we talk about racism so much. We actually aren't talking about race itself and

We aren't educating ourselves about our own history

To come to the conclusions that I think we need to come to. Hmm. I

One of the frustrations

Those of you who are familiar with my Twitter feed know that I'm very online and one of the recurring frustrations that I have

Is the way in which the the idea of a race class divide erases the extent to which?

The biggest concerns from my in my view. Anyway, when we talk about racism the negative effects of racism what we're really talking about are

one the kind of interpersonal

Slight and the feeling of marginalization and those kind of psychic harms, but most more significantly more often

We're talking about the effects which are awesome economic and how how kind of absurd it feels to be

to say that a conversation about closing the the wealth gap the racial wealth gap is somehow a

conversation that falls into one category either race or class or that if we're talking about

housing integration that somehow that isn't also a class issue and you know

It feels like not a lot of people are doing a particularly good job of connecting the extent to which

kind of

class equality efforts are in fact

inextricably entwined with racial equality effort

No matter what like as a matter, of course

definitionally, you know

What kind of do you have any any sense of what kind of messaging is effective there? I

actually think that it it's

It goes beyond messaging and it's really just about education

so like a lot of people don't know this story about the New Deal a lot of people don't know what redlining is and

because of that it's just like I don't know why there is a racial wealth gap like and

because when people are not educated about the tools and the systems that


Racial wealth gap disparities or other wealth gap disparities. It's just like this is the reality

I don't know and you create this gaping maw in which someone can tell a racist story that

That kind of tells people why a certain community is poor

They're poor because they're lazy they're poor because they're uneducated

they're poor because this but no one's saying they're poor because they're redlining and everyone else inherited a house except for

You know people of color yeah, and so I've got no house. Yeah. Yeah, and so

So I think a lot of it requires is part of our personal responsibility to educate ourselves

To get past the revisionist history that we're taught in the fourth grade

and so that's you know, I think that's an important part but also the messaging is important as well and that

it doesn't

Feel good to live in an unequal society. It doesn't feel good

Like I walked through New York City

Which has the highest rate of people who are homeless today

that in any other time since the Great Depression and at the same time, there are

Penthouses galore

fifty percent of which are vacant because they're people's like second or third or fourth home and it doesn't feel

good doesn't feel good walking down New York City and and

You know and and in walking and seeing so many veterans who are homeless so many

Elderly who are homeless and and so on people with mental illnesses that are homeless

Like it doesn't feel good to live in a society like that. And so

Part of it. I think does go back to the to the moral question

It's like and that's where you know, you're also able to combat that incrementalism because it's like we're talking for example with ice

I've stated very very clearly

I don't believe that an agency that's systematically and repeatedly violates human right rights can be reformed. I think it must be abolished


Got I got a lot of heat recently in the party because I was really furious when

When this Republican amendment was able to kind of slip through on a gun safety bill

That gave more power to ice it allowed

It allowed gun vendors to to report information


undocumented people to ice and I was furious about it and I got a lot of heat for being furious about it because

you know, whatever reason and so

but the the thing is the reason that I was so upset is because

we have an

agency, that is

Separating children from their parents and putting them in cages and CNN was reporting a year ago a

Year ago CNN had reports of ice agents pinning down children and forcibly injecting them with

Antipsychotic drugs and the thing that makes me furious is this app it is this idea of like let's just cage a few less

Let's just inject a few less

let's just

You know

it's too politically complicated and for me what is just so upsetting and heartbreaking about this moment is like

Since when did it become the moderate position in America to continue caging children?

And that's why I like we're not talking about we're not tough

We're not talking about the difference between a seven and a ten percent tax rate. We're not talking about percentage points

We're talking about human rights. We're talking about children

We're talking about what kind of nation we want to be and this idea that its electoral II complicated because we have allowed racial resentment

to become

legitimized as a

Political tool is a very difficult thing to grapple with

so so you mentioned

One of the things I said about is is that you know when it's if something is structurally

Irredeemable then we shouldn't be having conversations about redeeming it, you know

majorities of Americans I think for the first time a majority of American more Americans feel favorably about

socialism than capitalism and

Increasingly there. Are these kind of systemic critiques of

Of capitalism. Do you feel similarly that that our system of government is?

Irredeemable, I mean you've said you've said in the past, you know, you don't think it's

Ethical to have a country with billionaires where there were so many people who are you know?

struggling to get basic their basic health care needs met

you know at what point does that translate into a broader systemic critique of a country and a

Critique of what kind of leaders we should be electing going forward. I don't think that our government is irredeemable

If I did I wouldn't have run for office, but but capitalism in particular right because it could be different. So I think

The tough part about this about like is capitalism redeemable, etc. Is that

It's hard to have these conversations I think as a society because we all have different ideas

Of what just in the public imagination? There's a there are different ideas of


Does capitalism mean what does socialism mean etc, but for me?

when I think about

What those definitions are?

Capitalism isn't to me is it's an ideology of capital

It puts capital. The most important thing is the concentration of

Capital and it means that we seek and prioritize profit and the accumulation of money

Above all else and we seek it at any human and environmental cost

That is what that means and to me that

Ideology is not sustainable and cannot be redeemed

But when we talk about ideas, for example, like democratic socialism

It means putting democracy and society first instead of capital first

It doesn't mean that you put other things last

It doesn't mean that that the actual concept of capital as a society is should be abolished or or anything like that

but it's it's a question of our priorities and I right now I think what we are reckoning with are the

consequences of putting profit above everything else in society because what we're what it means is

People getting paid less than what it takes to live. What it means is

People that need insulin die because they can't afford it even though us as a society

Can afford it and because and also because insulin was originally made free

because the idea of of having to pay to live seemed crazy even to the people who discovered it and

So for me, it's a question of priorities. And right now I don't think our priorities are sustainable

But there's also again in the public imagination a lot of fear-mongering

About what democratic socialism means that it's like you're you know

That government's gonna like take over the private sector and in fact in my opinion

those those two things need to need to be separate and what we're actually experiencing right now is the opposite we are experiencing is

You know just as there's all this fear-mongering that government is going to take over

Every corporation and government is going to take over every business or every form of production

We should be scared right now because corporations have taken of our government

In my opinion

We should be wary of any entity in which both of those things are combined whether it's through one way or the other

And that's why the emphasis in democratic socialism is on

democracy and it's not about

you know it it's it's just as much a

transformation about bringing democracy to the workplace

So that we have a say and that we don't check all of our rights at the door every time we cross the threshold

Into our workplace because at the end of the day as workers

And as people a society were the ones creating wealth not a corporate CEO

It's not a CEO. That's make that's actually creating four billion dollars a year. It is the millions of workers in this country

that's creating billions of dollars of economic productivity a year and

our system should reflect that I

think as controversial as a

debated rather as the

Definition of democratic socialism I think is probably also the definition of identity politics and in this last few minutes

I really do want to get to this because you

Did an interview with Glenn Greenwald for the intercept last summer in which you gave perhaps the most eloquent

description of identity politics that I've ever heard as someone who is a hundred percent on the idea of a politics

So I want to if we can play a short part of that


At the end of the day

I'm a candidate that doesn't take corporate money that champions medicare-for-all a federal jobs guarantee the abolishment of ice and a green new deal

but I approach those issues with the lenses of the community that I live in and that is

not as easy to say as identity politics, but I think it's it's something that our

constituents understand on a very deep level

So so what I love about that that definition and there was a lot before but I would rather you talk about here at live

Then go back to your old

Is that you I think United to two kind of different definitions that I've been percolating that I think

cause a lot of the debate

There is a critique of identity politics from a right, right, which says identity doesn't matter

It's all about kind of rugged individualism

And there's to say that there are

Experiences that people have because of what they look like how they identify how the world interacts with them is

Silly or wrong despite the fact that that isn't cord with most people's lived experiences, right?

You know that when you walk through the world wearing a you know


Space helmet on that people are gonna react to you like you're wearing a space helmet and the same comes from other kinds of you

Know I more substantive identities

There's also this critique of weaponized I didn t though

which is I think the critique that more often comes on the Left which says

You know the facts of somebody's identity might be a proxy for their beliefs or their politics but is not

determinative and

That when particularly when we're looking at politicians and kind of picking our leadership

That it's important to keep both of those things in mind to say okay representation has value the lens has value

but the lens is a lens as opposed to

Kind of I don't know like an eye patch or a blight or something that completely cuts off vision. I mean, how do you

negotiate the balance between I think a genuine desire for representation and

you know a desire also to have substantive politics that don't always map on to politicians who

Possess marginalized identities. Yeah, you know and I feel like my perspective on this was really shaped

by where I came from in the Bronx because

There you know it took

So much effort in my community to get people to even vote

because they have been burned so many times and

they've been burned by politicians that look like them and

So in the Bronx, there's just this idea. There's really this idea that it's just like it doesn't really doesn't matter

and there's all of the cynicism that

Resulted from electing people. You know that

Ethnically matched the community, but once they got into power

advanced the same agenda that was

marginalizing the community to begin with and so there was a lot of cynicism about that and the thing that creates

hope about the situation is the joining of the two things is that you can have someone from the community that

Understands the experience actually

Advocate for the policies and the positions that can change our future


They're not, you know separable things. I don't think that

If I truly do not believe that if I ran on a platform

That was more moderate I would I would not have won my election I wouldn't have and


Because it has to be not just a superficial alternative or something. That looks different

It has to be something that actually is different and it has to be different on many levels

So so it yes, it's different in my identity and my identity and my experiences with my community

inform and add

You know a different

perspective to

The positions that I hold and to the policy that I hold because it goes the other way because you can't have just a progressive

position like Medicare for all

without an understanding of race because

Then you do get back to that position that you were talking about earlier where communities say. Oh this isn't for me

This is for somebody else people aren't thinking about me when you're drafting this plan

and because you aren't thinking about me then when it gets implemented, we're gonna get left behind again, and it's you know,

It's gonna be a benefit for somebody else and so to be able to articulate both of these things

Both of these arguments that wants to be able to talk about how criminal justice reform

Rather like the war on drugs was an economic agenda it

It it educates people and that's really what we need

We we really just need to be educating ourselves right now about how we've gotten to this place

Well, I would love to keep asking you a lot more questions, but I think I've been told to reserve 15 minutes for the audience


Does anybody have a question?

Yes down in front I

So the question is for anybody who didn't hear how do you talk to people with the kind of different beliefs about racism and

demonism and broader political beliefs

so the way I have conversations with people of opposing beliefs is

I don't try to convince them of anything

So that's the first thing stop trying to win people over

Stop trying to enter a conversation thinking that you're gonna like aah-ha them into

changing their mind and

So I think that you know, we've kind of lost the art of conversation

So when I enter a conversation with someone I actually try to learn more about

Where they're coming from

like I

Try I actually use it as an experience

To like let's say I'm talking to someone who's saying something really racist and they don't even realize that they're saying something really racist. I

Asked some questions because I'm interested. I'm fascinated by that

How does that work, you know?

but really and so I don't do it in a way that's like mocking but I ask questions to kind of dig like

You know when someone says oh this isn't racist why

But you have to we have to learn to like really disarm ourselves in these conversations. First of all

because we had proach them with so much hostility and like they get mad and we get mad and all of these things and

and we so part of it is like emotional work and and

The second part of it is intention. Like what are you trying to get out of this conversation?

And if you're just trying to argue with someone, it's it's gonna it's not gonna work

You know, you believe what you believe they believe what they believe

So I think the thing that we have to do is try to have a good faith

interaction of trying to learn more about where the other person comes from because often what I find, is that when

I do win people over

It's almost never in the conversation itself that I've won someone over is that I have a conversation with someone

I asked them some critical questions and I pretty like I pretty

Calmly explained to them. Well, this is where I'm coming from and this is why I believe what I believe

why do you believe what you believe and

You kind of like leave the conversation but very often

that person will sit on what you said and they will sit on the fact that you respected them and gave them space and

Then very often I've had interactions like that and I'll run into that person again a week later a month later

Etc, and they said you know what?

you said something that I really thought about and I changed my mind, but

Conversate no one ever changes their mind in the actual acute

Situation of a conversation it's like they ask it's like afterwards when it kind of sits with them

but if you rush in, you know fully-armored up

Attacking them and making them feel

Defensive they will never listen to anything that you have to say. So it's really about learning

How how we can have a conversation again? And also there's a really important conversation about good faith and bad faith

Conversations and when I sense that someone is engaging in me and bad faith. I just don't engage the conversation at all

It's not worth my time or my energy

If someone's trying to put you down or belittle you or approach a conversation as though they are more intelligent than you

Because like oh, no, there's no way that someone can disagree with me and still be smart. You know, there's this like

You know, there's a very condescending tone that that we have in a lot of our conversations

And and I think it's important to really approach those kinds of disagreements with a lot of compassion

because when they see they you know people really

Look at not just the logic of your argument

But how you make them feel as much as people hate to say that and admit it. It's true

Yeah, but I think that's good advice and really hard advice because I think there's a lot of talk about kind of emotional labor. Yeah

yeah, yeah the idea of having to put out emotional labor is controversial right because nobody should have to but I think the reality is

That if you don't approach these conversations in a certain kind of way

you don't get the results that you'd like and I and I do find I

found myself in those conversations a lot when I'm traveling around doing doing reporting trips around the country and

Was once in a car with a bunch of other not white reporters

where the uber drivers started saying some things that were like a little less than kosher and

everyone jumped in and kind of I think in my defense is what it was about and I was like

We've got 44 minutes till we get to Des Moines and I need this not to escalate

And what ended up happening was that giving the driver a little bit more space?

He basically talked himself out of his own racism using the ref' you know, I needed to give him enough rope

That's right. You know, that's right. I was just

you know Austin's a very special place for me because this is one of the first places where actually organized young people and I

have this

mentor and one of the best piece of pieces of advice that he gave me is

Always give someone the Golden Gate of retreat which is give someone enough rope

Give someone enough compassion enough opportunity in a conversation for them to look good changing their mind

yeah, and it's a really

important thing to be able to do because if you're just like, oh you said this thing like you're racist and and

When now you're forcing that person to say no, I'm not like etc. There's no golden gate of retreat. There you only

Retreat there is to just barrel right through the opposing opinion. Yeah, I'm sorry

I missed the line over there at the mic cuz it's brand new. Yeah


count the days that Donald Trump will not be my president, which will hopefully be tomorrow, but I think it's not

all right, I

Think it's not gonna be until 2020. My problem is I look at everyone and I have a hard time

Choosing someone I believe in versus just choosing someone

I will that will win and at what point will we have a candidate we all believe in versus?

Just getting ahead and getting that win. So he's not president

that's an excellent question a

lot of

you know, I think that the I think the person we believe in is the person who will win and so I think that

Even if who we believe in is different, I think that in this first initial stage, we have a responsibility

To find and really fight for who we believe in


What people my opinion and I think we've seen what people think will win is wrong

Almost always

people what people think though they'll say


I believe X Y Z but I think

the thing that will win is something other than what I believe and so everyone starts like

Triangulating what they think will win

Away, from what they actually believe and compromising all of the things that make them passionate about

Participating in our political system until we have this weird

Compromise like this weird

amalgamation which is like how we've gotten a lot of the politicians that we've gotten and a lot of our the complaints about

Politicians that we've gone today how everyone talks like a robot that everything is pre-scripted

That they're either like super out of touch like this is how we got this we take responsibility because we voted for these people

Like they didn't come out of nowhere

We voted for these people that we don't like

So if you're complaining about the system

It's because we're not fighting hard enough for what we actually believe in because we we we do idolize

like cynicism as an intellectually superior position and we're like, oh, you know

It's small of me or it's you know, the the child in me that believes we can have health care as a human, right?

Yeah, and I don't think we should believe belittle our beliefs anymore. Like we are capable of so much as a country and

We are capable of so much than what we're doing right now

Like we are capable of everything in the world

We are capable of saving the planet of guaranteeing health care as a right of educating our children through college

We are we are capable of establishing all work as dignified of

Respecting people's cultures of having an economy that not only welcomes immigrants but needs immigrants because we are being so productive

We are

We're capable of that

And like don't get duped by this person

That's like oh I you know blah blah blah technic the technocratic


We're capable of them and the position should be not

Let's not do it because we figured out all we haven't figured out all the details yet

How about the goal is let's figure out all the details

Because we've decided we're going to the moon we're gonna get there before the end of the decade and then we're gonna do it

You know


When Kennedy said we're gonna go to the moon by the end of 10 years

People thought that he was crazy. He didn't have a plan

So many of the technologies that required us to get there weren't even invented yet

But it was taken seriously enough as a mission

Like we need to think of platform positions as well as our mission and it should be our mission right now

to make sure that all people

Have health care it should be our mission right now

our mission should

Be to make sure that all jobs are paid a dignified living wage and then it's you know

And it should like our mission should be to save our freaking planet

And this idea

Visit the New York Times said and I quote. They said in a headline the green New Deal is

Technologically possible but is it?

politically possible and so that to me is the biggest

you know condemnation of where we're at because there is an admission an

actual admission that we can do it and

Just the idea

That our biggest obstacle is political will should be the most embarrassing thing for us right now

First of all saw you at Foley Square on women's marched. It was really awesome. My name is Yael

I'm a I am a first generation immigrant

I wasn't even gonna say that but cool as a technical as a tech entrepreneur as well. I do think everyday about

automation and

The millions of jobs that are going to be replaced by machines in the coming decades and how will we as a society?

Be able to ensure that everyone can still earn a living or even find a purpose in an economy

That will not be able to support as many jobs

It's it's a it's a great question. And and I think we talk about automation

It's not just automating people out of work

But it's automating every system that we have right now and what it also means is automating injustice. So when we talk about

the trend of economic inequality

It's only going to accelerate

with the advancement of technology if we don't fix our underlying systems, so if we don't fix our

actual systems and how we handle the production of wealth, you know, we should be

Everybody should be feeling the fact that we are

Most prosperous point than we've ever been everybody in the country should be feeling the extent of our national prosperity

but the majority of us aren't and

And so when we talk about the you know job automation

One of the things that's difficult is, you know, people should not necessary

We should not be haunted by the specter of being automated out of work, right?

We should have we should not feel nervous about

You know the Tollbooth collector not having to collect tolls anymore

we should be excited by that but the reason we're not excited by head is because

we live in a society where if you don't have a job you are left to die and


is at its core or problem and

So there are a lot of different solutions or a lot of different proposed

Ideas about how we go about that. You know, Bill Gates has talked about taxing robots at ninety percent and

What that means what he's really talking about is taxing corporations at ninety percent

But it's easier to say tax a robot

And so so, I think that

What we do is when we actually decouple ourselves from this idea

You know, we should get to a point and we should

structure our systems whether it's a tax rate whether it's

distributing wealth that is created by automation

If we talk if we if we approach

Solutions to our system and start entertaining ideas like that

Then we should be excited about automation because what it what it could potentially mean is

more time educating ourselves more time creating art more time investing and

Investigating in the sciences more time focused on invention more time going to space more time

Enjoying the world that we live in because not all creativity needs to be


by wage and

And I think that actually like one of the reasons that this ideology or

Questions of whether you want to call it democratic socialism or techno futurism or like whatever it is

It is because our

Technological advancement as a society has outpaced our system for handling finite resources

because now we are approaching approaching infinite resources and

How do like capitalism is based on scarcity and what happens when there is enough for everyone to eat?

what happens when there is enough for everyone to be clothed then you have to

Make scarcity art of artificial and that is what has happened

We have created artificial scarcity

And that is why

We are driven to work 80 hours a week when we are being our most productive at any point in American history

and so we you know

We should be working the least amount we've ever worked

If we were actually paid based on how much wealth we were producing

But we're not were paid on how little were desperate enough to accept and then the rest is skimmed off and given to a billionaire

yeah, I

Know that you grew up with Star Trek as well. I

Like to think of it as full Star Trek socialism is the goal. I

Want to get through a few more these questions quickly if we can

Hi, my name is Lupita. Hi, I'm Amir. We are the radical monarchs from East Oakland. Hey

Are you wearing Girl Scout masks? Yes, what is oh nice

Oh, um our question is what advice would you give to young girls of color who want to get into politics?

The advice that I give is stop trying to navigate systems of power and start building your own power



so I'm from I represent Queens and I was recently I was recently doing a town hall with girls who code and

What I told them was that you know

There are so many subconscious forces that make us try to act like somebody else and that's why it was important

And I've discussed it. So I was important for me to you know, wear hoop earrings to my swearing in because

We're taught that

You like when you're a woman of color?

there are just so many things about you that is just like

Non-conforming, you know like

My I happen to have been

You know, that's what I'm saying. Looks like I haven't I've been born with straight hair, but my niece's have like throws right?

and so down to that there are places where like you have to like make more space and


we're taught to like

like put our hair back and be small and and

articulate in a certain way and

you know be square and essentially try to

try to

do an impression of


which has really our subconscious signals to try to act like white men and

And so

It's down to how you're how you are

kind of forced or or

encouraged to speak

The idea that some ways of speaking are less legitimate

The idea that some ways of dressing are less legitimate or you know instead we don't say legitimate. We say unprofessional

And so that if you say a or if you say my momma or whatever it's unprofessional


even if you're producing the same result or the same quality of work you somehow scene is less than and so

So stop trying to navigate those systems because they weren't built for you. And we need to build our own systems and recognize


We're out of time but I in light of how long the line is. I do want to do like a rapid fire

So yeah

Keep your questions short and your I'll try to keep my answers do a little bit shorter than we need

for a few more people

so, my name is my kind of software company here in Austin majority of my staff or women about 15 and

In last election a couple months ago

I noticed a lot of them actually then go to vote and

It really annoys me as somebody who's actually from Iran from the country that is not easy to go

You know find a good Canada to to vote for

So as an American, I want to tell you guys that

Please go vote

Yes, it matters

every single one of them matters

How do I encourage my own staff

Majority of them again younger recent Gras. How do I encourage them to go votes? Tell them to run?

Thank you

You gotta tell them to run you need to tell them to start participating

even in small things like school boards and City Council's and things like that because I've had elections where I didn't want to I didn't

Want to vote I didn't want to vote because I was like, this is not a good set of options

And so the answer is to get them to run

Yeah, my name is Austin incised

I'm from Norway and it's very interesting to have a European perspective and seen from afar what your country's going through

I'm writing about I'm working down in Alabama in a diner and

What has changed?

Europe in the last century was more unions labor unions than tax policies here in the u.s

is a lot of folks focus on tax policies and

these women in my diner they not organize their a minimum pay they work by the hours and

They don't even think about organizing they just you know, hope that they will get an extra hour work. How are you gonna help people?

Like them you don't really you know, they do don't really fight for themselves

I'm surprised by the submissiveness and second question here is when you hear the word socialism in the US

People would said this morning Howard Souls socialism

What you talk about is Venezuela in Europe when we hear their word socialism. It's what?

Scandinavia is spilled on even though you might call it social democracy

I'm just wondering why don't candidates on the left here talk more forcefully about yes, there is a model

There's the Nordic model in Europe. That's a scandinavian model Norwegian model Swedish model

Instead of letting folks use

Teach the people that what you're talking about, that's Venezuela. So so I'll start with the first half of your question

which has to do with organizing and one of those things is because

We have been taught that we don't matter

In a lot of different

Subconscious ways. We've been taught that if you make $15 an hour,

You don't matter they've been taught that if you're poor you don't matter

taught if you're a person of color living in a community

You don't matter and when you internalize and feel like you don't matter you don't do anything to change your lot because you don't matter

because who cares but so the core is really

changing our

idea of ourselves that we matter and that our

Worthiness is not based on an external condition. Our worthiness is intrinsic to being a human being on this planet


If you are alive and a human then you are worth dignity and

that is I think

the the core tenets of organizing that

Needs to and is starting to in my belief awakened across the country. That's what we saw with teachers in, West, Virginia

That's what we saw in teachers in LA

That's we're starting to see that's why this is becoming the year of the strike because people are starting to say wait a second. I

Matter and my dignity is not up for negotiation

with your second question


Why we don't defend social democracy and from these bad faith attacks. I think it's because there's a lot of people

that don't want us to have a social democracy and they are in government and they are also in the Democratic Party and

You know and I'm not allowed to say that I'm gonna get in a lot of trouble when I go back to work


It's you know, I think that there are parts of it that are true

There's a lot of people it's no secret in government that go on this rotating door

And you would think that when someone leaves government?

they would go and

go back into a different form of public service that they would become a professor or

They would organize a community or they would work with unions

But now when politicians leave government

They go and work for lobbyists and that tells you everything about the coordinated interests that are in cahoots

All over regardless of party. It's just you know, I guess the industries tend to be a little more partisan and so

so I think that

there's just

Some people that don't want to defend it

There's some people that want to quiet down this idea even within the Democratic Party

And then blame it on their constituents say, oh, you know, they won't vote for that. It's because we don't fight for it. I

Think this has to be the last one. Oh

This is so nice

It's good to see you all I can't take selfies with everyone

keep in mind but

Here's what I think's going on. I want ask the question in two ways as you may know

I'm a white guy

I belong to two unions

But I think I think the problem on both sides is fear. Yep

People are afraid people of my ancestry are afraid of having to pay for everything when as immigrants come into this country

People who are come in the people who work at the diner in Alabama are afraid to try to ask for what is reasonable

So do you have a plan?

to work with people in

Congress that are afraid and I think that's what's going on with many of the conservatives

Especially when it comes to climate change people are just afraid of what will happen

If we try to make these big changes and I remind everyone

Article 1 section 8 Clause 8 of the US Constitution refers to the progress of science and useful


So when we address climate change

We're gonna have clean water access to the Internet and renewable electricity for everyone on earth. Let's go

So I think one of the keys to dismantling fear is

Dismantling 0a0 some mentality

So that I think is a really important part of dismantling fear. So what what does that mean?

It means the rejection outright of the logic that says someone else's game

Necessitates my loss and that my game must miss necessitate

Someone else's lost that my gain must come at the cost of another person

we are increasing our

capacities for productivity and so there is we can give without a take is

Where we're going through


and when we say

you know this idea of how you're going to pay for it this idea that that there is a

person that pays that pays for it instead of

you know, we're viewing reviewing progress as a cost instead of as an investment and

Investments the difference between a costs and investment is that an investment yields returns?

And when we choose to invest in our systems, we are choosing to create wealth

We are choosing to create wealth and we invest in when we all invest in them then the wealth

Gets them the wealth is is for all of us - and so I think part of dismantling

The fear is dismantling a zero-sum mentality, but you know

It's not it's not just about like this idea of who are our decision-makers. It's that we like this is us

This is about voting. This is about the conversations that were having with our elected officials

Because I go there and whether it's true or not, they blame all of it on you guys

they do I

Go and I'm frustrated and I'll say why are you why did you weaken this?

Environmental thing and they say my community doesn't want that

It's my district, you know, man

Like it's my district and no one else like knows what anyone else's community is like so they're like, oh wow, that's weird. Okay and


Because no like I'm to this day

I've never heard a person person actually like level with me and be like listen

My main donors are fossil fuel people and I just can't

no, but even in like the candor of an honest conversation no-one's no one has said that to me no one has ever said to

Me listen, you know, I've got these really big donors and to be really honest with you. This is why I can't do that

but we all know it that's what's happening and

And everyone blames it on their on their electorate and when our electorate isn't speaking up

Then they're allowed to get away with that

But when we decide to participate in this system and what I talk about is not just in the on season

which is election time but when we

Raucous Lee participate in our system in the off season in the Vernon's time. We participate in our own

Self-governance not just our own elections, but our own governance when we see what bills are coming to the floor

we show it to the gallery in DC when we when we pick up the phone and call our

Congressmen as much as we call our local, you know Chinese spot for take-out like that's the kind of relationship

We need to have because once we start getting vocal they can't get away with the excuse of my district doesn't want that anymore


One last thing about fear you know is

I want to talk one thing

You know in the contrast to fear is is to tell you something about courage

Because the thing about courage is that courage is self-propagating


begets courage

So the first person who stands up has to encounter the most amount of fear and discomfort

But once that one person stands up it becomes

Immensely easier for the second person in the third and the fourth until it doesn't take any courage at all

To stand up for something or to do something

and so what I would say, is that the biggest

Antidote to fear is to when you see someone that is being fearful is to choose to be the person that is courageous

to show other people what courage looks like to be the first person in the room to say

That's not right or to be the person in the room

You know when when you're there's this conversation the conversation starts to get taken over with fear-mongering

With like Venezuela this and this and whatever is to say, you know

What like the thing about fear is that it's it's all

designed to get you to run away from something and

It's not a plan

fear is not a plan and

But courage is a plan courage is this is what we're gonna do. This is where we're gonna go

This is what I'm going to stand up and this is the action that I'm going to take

courage is about our future and fear is just

about anxiety

And if you're sick and tired of being an anxious nation, then you have to just be rejecting fear outright

We can't allow ourselves to be governed by fear anymore

We can't allow ourselves to be governed by that kind of rationale to say I'm not gonna allow fear to control me anymore

I am going to stand up and do the courageous thing


The Description of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez | SXSW 2019