Ocasio-Cortez, Cornyn feud over Mussolini tweet

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

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezLongtime Rep. Lacy Clay defeated in Missouri Democratic primary Trump campaign rolls out TV spots in early voting states after advertising pause Trump adviser Jason Miller: Biden running mate pick 'his political living will' MORE (D-N.Y.) lashed out at Sen. John CornynJohn CornynNegotiators hit gas on coronavirus talks as frustration mounts The Hill's Campaign Report: Even the Post Office is political now | Primary action tonight | Super PACS at war GOP expects Senate to be in session next week without coronavirus deal 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 SandersLongtime Rep. Lacy Clay defeated in Missouri Democratic primary Hillicon Valley: NSA warns of new security threats | Teen accused of Twitter hack pleads not guilty | Experts warn of mail-in voting misinformation Schiff, Khanna call for free masks for all Americans in coronavirus aid package 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 TrumpMark Kelly clinches Democratic Senate nod in Arizona Trump camp considering White House South Lawn for convention speech: reports Longtime Rep. Lacy Clay defeated in Missouri Democratic primary 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.