Ocasio-Cortez outdraws presidential candidates, decries moderates as 'meh'


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by Alex Seitz-Wald

AUSTIN, Texas – A freshman congresswoman drew bigger crowds at South by Southwest than any presidential candidate, and no one was surprised because it was Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

The annual festival of music, film and tech has gotten political this year, with more than a half-dozen declared and potential 2020 candidates of all political stripes making the pilgrimage to this mecca for upwardly mobile young techies and hipsters.

But Ocasio-Cortez, the 29-year-old left-wing Democrat from New York, was the star of the political track, attracting more interest Saturday than two senators- Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar- to train governor, mayor and the trainer CEO of Starbucks.

More 2020 candidates are set to speak Sunday, but in smaller than the massive ballroom that Ocasio-Cortez filled to the brim, which did not come close to accommodating everyone who wanted to get in.

In her remarks, Ocasio-Cortez torched political moderation, which she equates with worshiping mediocrity, defended democratic socialism and took a question from Bill Nye, better known as The Science Guy.

"Moderate is not a stance. It's just an attitude towards life, like, 'meh,' "she said, shrugging her shoulders for emphasis. "We have become so cynical, that we view 'meh,' or 'eh' – we view cynicism as an intellectually superior attitude, and we view ambition as youthful naivete when … the greatest things we have accomplished have been ambitious acts of visions.

"The 'meh' is worshipped now. For what? "She continued to cheers.

Speaking in the same room where Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz warned earlier in the day that socialism is taking over the Democratic Party, Ocasio-Cortez defended her self-described democratic socialism and dismissed "fear-mongering" about it.

She dismissed concerning the government taking over corporations, which she said she did not favor, by saying "corporations have already taken over our government."

Instead, she said, her view of democratic socialism emphasizes making everything, politics and the economy, more democratic. And she said capitalism – which she defined as an ideology of "putting profit above all else else in society" – "can not be redeemed."

The lawmaker took questions from the Intercept's Briahna Joy Gray, and when the hearing had a chance to ask some of their own, a personal face-to-face appearance at the microphone, prompting a standing ovation: Bill Nye's TV personality and science advocate.

He asked what can be done to make people feel like him (older white men).

She said that she is in favor of a change in the world, but said they need not be afraid: "There can be a give without a take."

"When you see someone who is fearful," she said the best thing to do is be the person who is courageous.

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