AOC Cites MLK in Pushback Against Criticism Over Her Saying American Ethos of Lifting Yourself by Your Bootstraps is a Joke

Communist revolutionary Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) ripped into the American ethos of pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps in a Congressional hearing Wednesday.

Video posted by the liberal group Public Citizen shows AOC calling the bootstrap mentality a joke.

“Ms. Hutchinson, I also want to thank you about bringing up the ‘poverty draft’, and this idea of a bootstrap. You know this idea, this metaphor of a bootstrap started off as a joke? Because it’s a physical impossibility to lift yourself up by a bootstrap, by your shoelaces? It’s physically impossible! The whole thing is a joke!”

While not specified by Public Citizen the clip likely came from a hearing Wednesday by the Democrat led Oversight and Reform Committee entitled, “A Threat to America’s Children: The Trump Administration’s Proposed Changes to the Poverty Line Calculation” which featured as a panelist Ms. Amy Jo Hutchison, Organizer, Healthy Kids and Families Coalition, West Virginia.

Conservative media picked up the video clip Thursday, having been focused on President Trump’s acquittal in the impeachment trial Wednesday and the aftermath of his State of the Union address. Much of the focus was on AOC’s own life story as a bartender who campaigned hard and became a Congresswoman debunking her rant.

AOC responded Thursday afternoon with a Twitter storm, citing a fifty-three year old interview with Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. on the American bootstrap ethos as it applied to black people after being freed from slavery in 1863 by President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation.

“I see that the right is worked up that we pointed out the myth of bootstrapping when 60% of the wealth in this country is *inherited.* But hey, if you think I’m hopelessly dumb, try listening to MLK talk about “bootstrapping” & the racial wealth gap, too:”


AOC added, “What does “bootstrapping” mean to the GOP? That you didn’t go to public school? That you didn’t enlist in the military, which is funded by the gov? That you never got a tax break for starting a business or buying a home? That your parents never used food assistance to feed you?”

“Question for the GOP: Does starting a business with a 60 million dollar loan from your dad count as “bootstrapping?” Does getting a $2 trillion dollar corporate handout from the GOP count as “bootstrapping?” Asking for a corrupt president & his friends.”

“I worked my butt off to get elected against all odds, without any special connections or money. I worked double shifts and wore through my shoes, outspent 10:1 to get elected. Even w/ all that hard work, it would be narcissistic to pretend I “bootstrapped” it alone & w/o others.”

Wikipedia does indeed describe the phrase ‘pull oneself up by one’s bootstraps’ starting out as a joke, but that it evolved into a phrase invoking self-analysis and the drive and determination to better oneself without help.

“Tall boots may have a tab, loop or handle at the top known as a bootstrap, allowing one to use fingers or a boot hook tool to help pulling the boots on. The saying “to pull oneself up by one’s bootstraps”[3] was already in use during the 19th century as an example of an impossible task. The idiom dates at least to 1834, when it appeared in the Workingman’s Advocate: “It is conjectured that Mr. Murphee will now be enabled to hand himself over the Cumberland river or a barn yard fence by the straps of his boots.”[4] In 1860 it appeared in a comment on philosophy of mind: “The attempt of the mind to analyze itself [is] an effort analogous to one who would lift himself by his own bootstraps.”[5] Bootstrap as a metaphor, meaning to better oneself by one’s own unaided efforts, was in use in 1922.[6] This metaphor spawned additional metaphors for a series of self-sustaining processes that proceed without external help.[7]”

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