Social welfare is a sneaky thing. Lower your guard a few minutes, listen to a passionate breakdown of the social benefits every citizen should have, and before you know it, you think maybe you do deserve them.
This is what happened to Virginia Kruta, an associate editor of the conservative news website The Daily Caller, who attended a birthday rally for Democratic candidate Cori Bush in St. Louis, Missouri.
Even being a veteran of rallies—from those of the Tea Party to Donald Trump’s—Kruta writes that she was not prepared for “the stark difference in tone.” She writes that she overheard women who were spurred by anger and fear into becoming politically active, people debating the 2014 Ferguson riots in response to the deadly shooting of a black man by police, and others talking about the “Israeli occupation of Palestine.”
But that was not the most alarming thing Kruta experienced at the gathering. That moment came when rising Democratic star Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a proud socialist who pulled off a stunning upset in the Democratic primary in New York’s 14th congressional district, gave her speech at the celebration.
“I saw something truly terrifying,” reports Kruta. That is: She witnessed first hand the power of a socialist platform.
While listing what she sees as the worst parts of the goals Ocasio-Cortez shared on stage, she unwittingly wrote a powerful, pithy summary of the Democratic left’s manifesto:
I saw how easy it would be, as a parent, to accept the idea that my children deserve healthcare and education.
I saw how easy it would be, as someone who has struggled to make ends meet, to accept the idea that a “living wage” was a human right.
Above all, I saw how easy it would be to accept the notion that it was the government’s job to make sure that those things were provided.
Kruta insists she left the rally her old conservative self, along with a photo to remind herself of the horror. But would less principled conservatives emerge similarly unswayed or “fall for” the message, as Kruta fears? At a time when the Democratic party is under pressure internally to embrace a socialist message, this conservative’s reaction seems to be a strong argument in favor of why they should.