In a town hall advocating for her Green New Deal, the congresswoman took a chance to stump for publicly funded institutions such as libraries, reminding everyone in the audience that these places are a vital part of society.
Anyone who grew up going to the library knows how vital a role they play in any given community.
Not just as a place to borrow books for free, but also as a place to gather, to learn, to play and to spend time in a safe space. As Lucy Mangan wrote in Stylist, libraries are a “source of food for the imagination, the soul, the only means of slaking the thirst for discovery, for facts, for stories, for knowing how the world and the people in it work – for an education in the round.” We must protect them at all costs.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez feels the same. Publicly funded facilities such as libraries, but also public education and public housing, are some of her biggest campaign platforms. They form a cornerstone of her Green New Deal, and are an issue that she is very passionate about.
Speaking at a town hall for her Green New Deal this week, Ocasio-Cortez pointed out the one thing that everyone gets wrong with publicly funded institutions such as libraries.
“It’s not that we deserve them because it’s a handout,” she said. “People like to say that this is about free stuff… These are public goods. I never want to hear the term ‘free stuff’ ever again… I believe that all people should be able to go to a public library. Everyone can drive on our roads. Everyone should be able to send their kids to public school. And every person who needs it should have access to public housing that looks like this.”
A video of AOC’s impassioned words was uploaded to Twitter and went viral. The congresswoman responded on her own social media, driving her point even further home.
“Public education, libraries, & infrastructure policies (which we‘ve had before in America and elsewhere in the world!) are not ‘free stuff,’” she wrote on Twitter. “They are PUBLIC GOODS. And they are worth investing in, protecting, & advancing for all society and future generations.”
Ocasio-Cortez’s words come in the same week that it was revealed that of all the House Democrats seeking re-election in 2020, the congresswoman from the Bronx has raised the most money. In the last quarter she put $1.42 million into the bank, the majority of which came from donations under $200. Ocasio-Cortez raised more money than Nancy Pelosi, the veteran politician and current speaker of the House.
None of this money has come from corporate backers, Ocasio-Cortez says. On Twitter, she explained that she has not spent her time in congress dialling up donors and asking for money. Instead, she’s focussed on being a lawmaker and delivering the change that her communities need, relying on them to supply her with many small donations that accumulate over time.
“Since I don’t spend hours each day asking for money, I spend a lot more time legislating, studying, and preparing/sitting in hearings,” she explained on Twitter. “This has cumulative effects over time.”
She continued: “Instead, your support allows me to spend hours each day studying issues & exposing abuse of power. So while Fox continues to laugh that I’m ‘just a bartender,’ I’ve spend the whole year studying big pharma, private equity, military contractors, and Mark Zuckerberg’s shady deals.”
Bring on re-election!