Ocasio-Cortez and her “Tax the Rich” dress spark conversation

Illustration by Adam Zyglis on Cagle Cartoons.

Yes, AOC’s dress was performative politics, but it made her point clear

New York Democratic Congressman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s most recent Met Gala gown caused a stir when she carried the bold message of “tax the rich”. The progressive lawmaker known to be media savvy wore a plain white dress with the crimson writing on the back, designed by a Brooklyn-based brand called Brother Vellies.

When she attended the gala with a free ticket (wealthy elites usually pay tens of thousands of dollars to watch the annual event known for its outrageous and flashy fashion), Ocasio-Cortez seized the opportunity to show off her simple but powerful Politics reinforce message. She told the press: “When we talk about supporting working families and about a fair tax regime, this discussion often takes place among workers and people of the middle class (in) the Senate.”

She added, “I think it is time we got all classes involved in the conversation.” In other words, its message of higher taxation on the rich was aimed directly at the faces of these elites, with the press as witnesses.

Taxing the rich higher is a popular proposal that only the very rich oppose, making the reaction to Ocasio-Cortez’s attire puzzling.

The Congresswoman’s dress was not only criticized by the right – Donald Trump Jr. called her a “cheater” for wearing “[t]he “heads for the rich” while she hangs out with a bunch of wealthy left-wing elites ”- but also by liberals.

CNN host Chris Cuomo bizarre railed that she “should be fighting all the time” because “she is a member of Congress for a poor district”. He added, “I think she had it both ways. I think there is a poser aspect to her because she likes to be with these people, “which means that Ocasio-Cortez likes to associate with wealthy elites while ignoring the fact that it took courage to deliver those elites with a bold appeal to confront taxing them.

Some on the left resisted the dress for similar reasons, such as John Ganz, who wrote for Gawker. Ganz, who Ocasio-Cortez described as a “hero of the working class” and allegedly supported them, criticized her Met Gala dress as “lame. And youthful. And sad.”

His assessment, which seems to reflect much of the liberal and left-wing criticism of the congressman, is based on the question of “whether it makes sense to demand taxation of the rich while obviously celebrating glamor and wealth”.

If Ocasio-Cortez had shown up at the Met Gala with her free ticket and made a fashion statement based solely on apolitical theatrics (like other prominent participants), she would likely have received even more criticism from all sides. Perhaps her critics would have been happier if she had completely foregone the opportunity to take a political stance by refusing to participate.

If Ocasio-Cortez’s Met Gala stunt was performative, it was on purpose, and at least in line with her political beliefs as a democratic socialist and her support for laws and proposals to impose high tax rates on millionaires and billionaires.

Remember the Kente cloth scarves that Liberal Democrats wore while kneeling in front of cameras in the Capitol to celebrate a moment of silence for George Floyd, whose police murder sparked a national uprising. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), on the knees, subsequently failed to introduce or even approve the BREATHE Act advocated by the Black Lives movement Support, the law should hold law enforcement accountable for racist police brutality.

Instead, Schumer, Pelosi, and other Democrats backed the reformist Justice in Policing Act, showing that their support for Black Lives Matter was largely performative.

Meanwhile, for an example of far-right performative fashion as sincere as Ocasio-Cortez’s (albeit terrifyingly callous), look no further than former first lady Melania Trump. Her infamous green jacket, worn on a visit to a detention center for immigrant children in 2018, carried the phrase, “I really don’t care, right?” The message on her jacket, clear as the day, was a deliberate feat that her lack Concern about the look of family segregation reflected.

Whether or not Ocasio-Cortez’s “Tax the Rich” dress was appropriate, she provoked a violent reaction that sparked a discussion about the words that adorn her dress. At the same time that Congress is considering a massive $ 3.5 trillion spending bill that includes a modest revision of U.S. tax law to attract more income from the top income brackets, the message on the dress was appropriate .

It was also fitting that Ocasio-Cortez put on the controversial dress at exactly 10. This movement sparked a new level of class consciousness in the American public, using language like “We are the 99 percent” to make the obscene rich as a source of unequal sources Identifying power and wealth and putting them on the defensive.

Right-wing opposition to taxing the rich was relentless and wanted to portray the rich as benevolent guardians of the economy. Repeating a popular statistic, Fox Business said, “The richest households paid 40.1% of all federal income taxes in 2018,” added: “[t]he share of the taxes borne by the richest people in the country has increased over time, “as if to suggest that wealthy Americans are getting more generous.

This assessment conveniently downplays the critical fact that the rich devour a disproportionate (and growing) percentage of all revenue. The misconception of the rich as generous sources of income, as Jonathan Chait explains, “makes the fact that rich people constitute a massive proportion of the income pool a reason to consider them ill-treated”. Chait also reminds us that the statistic quoted by Fox Business focuses only on federal taxes, not all taxes. With all taxes, the rich pay a much smaller percentage of the income.

Higher taxation of the rich is increasingly a very popular proposal that is only rejected by the very rich and their allies, which is why the reactionary reactions to Ocasio-Cortez’s dress are so puzzling.

In the context of the humble proposals to restore the Tax Code to pre-2017 levels, the message is hardly radical, and indeed some leftists have used the “tax the rich” message as a starting point for concise action demanding that the time has come “ to eat the rich ”.

Others expanded the conversation to remind us that the Met Gala is an opportunity for wealthy Americans to write off donations. “

USA Today used the story of Ocasio-Cortez’s dress as a starting point to determine who is considered wealthy enough to face higher taxes and to clarify that “[m]Most US households are not going to see any tax hike. ”This is an important counterpoint to avert the standard right-wing argument against higher taxes that toyed with fears that taxes will go up for all Americans.

The dress also sparked discussion that the US tax system has become regressive over time and that the Democrats’ humble proposal to raise the upper marginal income tax rate and add a markup on incomes above $ 5 million, “America’s “The long way from progressive taxation will lose hardly anything.”

Ocasio-Cortez himself continued the conversation, explaining in her Twitter post about the dress that the increased tax revenue is necessary to finance a progressive policy with bread and butter. She wrote: “Now is the time for childcare, health care and climate protection for everyone. Tax the rich. “

Sonali Kolhatkar
Independent media institute

This article was produced by Economy for All, a project by the Independent Media Institute.

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