Ocasio-Cortez’s speech was made during the debate to censure Gosar. It was full of power and nuance and sorrow. But most of all, it perfectly captured the tragic state of our politics and our nation right now:
OCASIO-CORTEZ: I have been serving in this body just under three years, in that three years, an enormous amount has happened. But in response to the Republican leader’s remarks when he says that this action is unprecedented, what I believe is unprecedented is for a member of House leadership of either party to be unable to condemn incitement of violence against a member of this body. It is sad. It is a sad day in which a member who leads a political party in the United States of America cannot bring themselves to say that issuing a depiction of murdering a member of congress is wrong and instead decides to venture off into a tangent about gas prices and inflation.
What is so hard, what is so hard about saying that this is wrong? This is not about me. This is not about Representative Gosar, but this is about what we are willing to accept. Not just the Republican leader, but I have seen other members of this party advance the argument, including Representative Gosar himself, the illusion that this was a joke. That what we say and what we do does not matter, so long as we claim a lack of meaning.
Now this nihilism runs deep and it conveys and betrays a certain contempt for the meaning and importance of our work here. That what we do, so long as we claim that it is a joke, doesn’t matter, that what we say here doesn’t matter, that our actions every day as elected leaders in the United States of America doesn’t matter, that this chamber and what happens in it doesn’t matter.
And I am here to rise to say that it does. Our work here matters. Our example matters. There is meaning in our service. And as leaders in this country, when we incite violence with depictions against our colleagues, that trickles down into violence in this country. And that is where we must draw the line, independent of party, identity or belief. It is about a core recognition of human dignity and value and worth.
So, when we talk about, as mentioned in the resolution, that these depictions are part of a larger trend of misogyny and racist misogyny, this has results in dampening the participation. And so, this vote is not as complex as perhaps the Republican leader would like to make folks believe. It’s pretty cut and dry. Does anyone in this chamber find this behavior acceptable? Would you allow depictions of violence against women, against colleagues? Would you allow that in your home? Do you think this should happen on a school board, in a city council, in a church? And if it’s not acceptable there, why should it be accepted here?
Lastly, when the Republican leader rose to talk about how there are double standards and lists the litany of all these different things, not once did he list an example of a member of Congress threatening the life of another. This is not about a double standard. And what is unprecedented and what’s tragic is the dissent of transgression in this body.
I grew up as a little girl with awe about our nation’s capital. The reverence and the importance and the gravity of our work here. … So the question that I pose to this body in response is will we live up to the promises that we make our children, that this is a place where we will defend one another regardless of belief, that our core human dignity matters? If you believe that this behavior is acceptable, go ahead: vote no. But if you believe that this behavior should not be accepted, then vote yes. It’s really that simple.