Saturday, December 19, 2020

Hern: Capitalism pulled me out of poverty, why can’t AOC admit it saved her, too?


Capitalism pulled me out of poverty, why can’t AOC admit it saved her, too?
By Representative Kevin Hern

It is well-documented that my colleague, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, worked in the service industry before running for Congress. It’s part of the reason why she gained so much traction with young people in her party. To be honest, I admire her ambition and think it should be applauded that she has found such success. It’s only possible in America.

What’s less well-known is that she is far from the first person to make that economic jump, and there are several sitting Members of Congress who come from much poorer backgrounds and worked their way to prosperity.

No one wants to talk about it because we’re conservative. We believe that capitalism is what pulled us out of poverty, and we want to maintain that system for future Americans.

The beauty of America is that anything is possible. No matter what economic class you are born into, there is opportunity to turn yourself into anything, if you are willing to work for it. There’s no limit to what you can achieve with a big idea and a strong work ethic.

There are not many people in Congress who can testify to that statement quite like I can.

For many years of my childhood, we didn’t have electricity or running water, because my mom and stepdad couldn’t afford to pay the bill. I remember coming home from elementary school not knowing if we’d have food for dinner most nights. I was mocked by classmates for my worn-out clothes. I was looked down on for receiving free lunches at school. We were constantly moving from house to house because my stepdad never made the rent.

That didn’t stop me from dreaming. In fact, it motivated me. It inspired me to work so hard that my future family would never live like that.

To that end, I went to work, and I worked hard. I earned an architectural drafting certificate while still in high school to earn money for college. I earned a degree in engineering and started working in aerospace.

My career took a detour when the Space Shuttle Challenger blew up, changing the aerospace industry forever. I was out of a job and didn’t know what was next when I first learned about the opportunities available as a McDonald’s franchisee.

I spent 10 years flipping burgers at McDonalds while saving up $100,000 to buy my first restaurant in the franchise system. I wasn’t just flipping burgers, though. I worked every role in the store, from the cash register to the fryer to the drive through. I was learning the management side as well, every aspect of running a McDonalds. In my spare time, what little I had, I was writing code, developing real estate, pig farming – any small jobs I could do to save up for that first restaurant.

Rep. Ocasio-Cortez likes to tell people that Republicans make fun of her for being a waitress, but you can imagine the condescending comments and ridicule I get for McDonald’s? No doubt about it, I’m the butt of endless jokes. People call me the ‘McCongressman’ and trivialize my real-world experience because it’s tied to the golden arches.

It doesn’t bother me because the McDonald’s franchise program helped me realize my American Dream. I’ve embraced the nickname ‘Big Mac’ and I share my ‘secret sauce’ to success with anyone who wants to listen.

America is a one-of-a-kind place. We are lucky to live in a land of opportunity, where someone like me can build a multi-million-dollar company after growing up with absolutely nothing, where someone like Rep. Ocasio-Cortez can bartend one day and be elected to Congress the next. She and I walked through similar doors of opportunity, a door called capitalism, but she wants to permanently shut that door to everyone behind her.

The American Dream is achievable for those who are willing to work for it. The same opportunities I had 40 years ago are still available today, but they’re in danger.

We must fiercely protect and defend those opportunities from socialist policies that would destroy us in pursuit of ill-conceived ideas that have repeatedly destroyed the countries who employ them.

Socialist governments pick winners and losers. This harms hardworking Americans and protects the elites with connections to power. What we’re seeing in California and New York under hypocritical COVID mandates is the future that Rep. Ocasio-Cortez and her colleagues want.

The American entrepreneurial spirit will be crushed under their policies and the American Dream will die a tragic death.

It’s easy to promote impossible ideas and ride them to fame, but the danger comes when people expect you to act on it; you can never live up to those promises. Socialism has long been a dirty word because of the very real destruction it has caused across the globe.

Nevertheless, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez wants you to believe that this time will be different. We can’t afford to find out.

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