When Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez revealed her political platform some conservatives scoffed.
Medicare for all? Housing as a human right? Gun control? An assault weapons ban?
Clean campaign finance, no to big money influence? Support our seniors? Higher education for all? Curb Wall Street excess, stop gambling with the nation's economy?
Who's going to pay for that formidable shopping list, they demanded?
Those were the same critics by the way, who sat silent as owls as Donald Trump and the Republican Party committed the biggest act of grand larceny America has ever seen to aid the richest people in this country, a historic national heist they called a “tax reform.”
There was a limitless budget for the rich when it came to Trump's tax cut, it's only when our politicians speak of giving a desperately needed break to the average working man and woman that we start hearing real concern about our frayed national purse strings.
It's only when a Democrat is in the White House that Republicans worry about red ink, because when their own guy wins it it seems balancing the federal budget just isn't such a big priority, as Trump amply demonstrates now.
Ocasio-Cortez political platform is guided, first and foremost, by her own ethics: “In a society that is materially and logistically and in every way capable of ensuring people are paid a dignified wage, have healthcare, have access to an education and opportunity if that is materially possible,” she told the press, “I feel like we are morally compelled to make it so.”
A signature Ocasio-Cortez platform proposal is what she calls a universal jobs guarantee. Under this proposal the federal government would promise to give a job to every American who could not find one.
Critics claim it would be hard to operate and could hurt businesses by draining them of a low pay workforce, but proponents say it would end unemployment and exert significant upward pressure on wages.
Ocasio-Cortez is also proposing a $15 an hour minimum wage. In 2018 this is far from revolutionary stuff.
So it's important to consider the mixed message that Republicans are sending us, which is that there's no money to uplift American workers but no limit when it comes to the rich.
Does that sound like a sustainable economic and political model to you? If it does, then you must be one of the few, the very lucky few.
Recall how deregulation in the financial industry (which Trump is now unleashing again) permitted the banks to engage in hedge fund trading with derivatives which lead to the financial crisis of 2007-2008.
Banks demanded more mortgages to support the profitable sale of these derivatives. Ordinary people who ordinarily didn't qualify for mortgages were suddenly being offered predatory loans they couldn't understand and couldn't hope to pay back.
When the books overheated that created the financial crisis that led to the Great Recession. The same thing happened in Ireland. The Irish banking industry collapsed sticking the Irish taxpayer with the eye-popping bill. The country is still far from paying off the 67.5 billion EU-IMF bailout package after the Irish banking and property sectors crashed.
But those crashes did more than damage the economy. The worst damage was done to the public compact, to the foolish belief that our political and economic leaders had our common welfare in mind. Clearly they did not.
All of the probes into the bank fraud leading up to the financial industry’s crash were all quietly closed. None of the Wall Street executives were ever punished for their misdeeds. They walked between the raindrops. It was the tax payers got shafted with the bill and the endless austerity.
So in 2008 the banking and finance industries showed us all who the economy really works for and it reminded us who pays for it. In the process they also finally interred the long ailing American Dream and walked away, betraying the public trust, and leaving us feeling like fools for having believed any of these false promises.
Are we to be told over and over that our education, our health care, our living wage, our pensions, our dreams, are now and will always be completely unaffordable?
So far we have accepted it without protest.
Trump came to power by claiming the political system was rigged. He was right. But voters put him and his family of immoral grifters in power and they immediately stripped away the last remnants of the social net with their historic tax giveaways to the already rich.
So we have to get smarter about where we direct our anger and who we elect. Our lives and futures depend on it now. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez knows this and her election is a signal that that time is rapidly approaching. She's a symbol of the change yet to come.