Ocasio-Cortez, Cornyn feud over Mussolini tweet

Ocasio-Cortez, Cornyn feud over Mussolini tweet
© Greg Nash

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezDes Moines Register endorses Elizabeth Warren as Democratic presidential nominee Sanders faces lingering questions about appeal to women voters Moore defends Sanders's reputation: 'We don't want the fake, and the phony and the fraudulent' MORE (D-N.Y.) lashed out at Sen. John CornynJohn CornynTrump legal team offers brisk opening defense of president Nadler gets under GOP's skin Restlessness, light rule-breaking and milk spotted on Senate floor as impeachment trial rolls on MORE (R-Texas) on Tuesday for quoting Benito Mussolini in a tweet.

Ocasio-Cortez criticized the former Senate GOP whip for linking fascism to socialism with the tweet, saying it was part and parcel for a party that she said called paying a living wage "socialism."

"In case you missed it, while the GOP is calling paying a living wage 'socialism,' a Republican Senator full-on quoted National Fascist Party leader and Hitler ally Benito Mussolini like it’s a Hallmark card," the first-year lawmaker tweeted.

Cornyn on Sunday had tweeted a quotation from the Italian fascist dictator. 


“We were the first to assert that the more complicated the forms assumed by civilization, the more restricted the freedom of the individual must become.”

Cornyn's tweet provoked some head-scratching online, but he responded that one reader had correctly interpreted the tweet as a warning against an overly powerful central government.


Cornyn in another tweet said he may have overestimated the "intelligence" of people on Twitter with his original tweet.

On Monday, Coryn added further context, noting that the quote appeared in Austrian political philosopher Friedrich Hayek's book "The Road to Serfdom."

Hayek's 1944 book is a criticism of state-run planned economies, and he argues that those systems inevitably devolve into tyranny and fascism.

Perceptions of socialism are shifting in America. A poll from August of last year showed Democrats have more positive perceptions of socialism than of capitalism.

That change has been reflected in the growing number of elected officials who self-identify as some form of socialist, including Ocasio-Cortez and 2020 presidential candidate Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersKaine: Obama called Trump a 'fascist' during 2016 campaign Des Moines Register endorses Elizabeth Warren as Democratic presidential nominee Sanders faces lingering questions about appeal to women voters MORE (I-Vt.). 

Republicans have ratcheted up their attacks on the ideology recently, specifically using the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela as a launching point for broader criticisms of socialism.

During his State of the Union address earlier this month, President TrumpDonald John TrumpKaine: Obama called Trump a 'fascist' during 2016 campaign Kaine: GOP senators should 'at least' treat Trump trial with seriousness of traffic court Louise Linton, wife of Mnuchin, deletes Instagram post in support of Greta Thunberg MORE condemned "the brutality of the Maduro regime, whose socialist policies have turned that nation from being the wealthiest in South America into a state of abject poverty and despair."

He added that “here, in the United States, we are alarmed by new calls to adopt socialism in our country. America was founded on liberty and independence — not government coercion, domination and control.”

In a speech later in the month about Venezuela, Trump said that "socialism is dying" across the Western Hemisphere and blamed the ideology for the collapsing economy in the South American nation.