GOP Asks Ocasio-Cortez to Meet with Coal Miners, and it Backfires Spectacularly

When are Republicans going to learn not to come for Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez? I realize they assume she must be an easy target because she’s young, progressive, new to politics, not wealthy, Latina and a woman, but she’s savvier than most of these conservative legislators could dream of being.

The latest example of this underestimation comes from her colleague Representative Andy Barr. The Kentucky Republican is not a fan of the Green New Deal that Ocasio-Cortez touts, so he asked her to come tour a mine and meet miners who would be affected by her plan.

Much to Barr’s surprise, Ocasio-Cortez accepted the invitation. Though the Green New Deal would eliminate coal mines for being a dirty, outdated energy source, the congresswoman says the plan very much took account of the “economic and social dignity” of the miners.

“We have to plan a future for all of our communities, no matter what,” said Ocasio-Cortez. “Failure to plan is planning to fail, and I feel like we’ve been failing Appalachian communities for a very long time.”

Alas, Barr’s invitation may have been a bluff because now he’s trying to get out of the visit altogether. He first wants Ocasio-Cortez to apologize for demonstrating a “lack of civility” to Rep. Dan Crenshaw.

The accusation is a stretch considering that she called out Crenshaw for stirring Islamophobic sentiments against Rep. Ilhan Omar over an out-of-context quote on 9/11 when he isn’t even willing to cosponsor the 9/11 Victim’s Compensation Fund. If this really boils down to a matter of “respect” as Barr suggests, why is he so unconcerned with the disrespect Crenshaw and Republicans have extended toward Rep. Omar?

The reason for Barr’s misdirect may have a lot to do with the fact that it turns out there aren’t any coal mines in his district! How is she supposed to visit his affected miner constituents when they don’t exist? Barr does receive a lot of donations from coal companies, though, so he may be confused as to whose interests he represents.

Or perhaps Barr just suddenly realized the danger in inviting an intelligent, persuasive legislator to come meet with Kentuckians and challenge his own party’s current agenda. Fellow Kentucky Republican U.S. Rep. James Comer acknowledged, “I don’t see any upside to bringing [Ocasio-Cortez.]”

“A lot of Republicans are making a mistake picking on her,” Comer said. “She is smart, and I think we need to be very prepared when we debate her on issues that we’re having a hard time with.”

Comer knows Barr is punching above his weight class. If he wants to challenge a Democrat on a losing issue like coal, he best choose one who’s less knowledgeable and charming.

Meanwhile, we now know that in addition to agreeing to visit Kentucky, Ocasio-Cortez flipped the script and invited Barr to visit the Bronx to talk to her constituents about his views on climate change. Barr declined that offer.

Oh well. Hopefully Ocasio-Cortez will find an excuse to visit Kentucky with or without Barr in tow to explain the virtues of Green New Deal. Yes, miners will face hardships (as they already are,) which is precisely why a simultaneous job/economic stimulus plan to help people in poor areas like the Appalachia is the ideal way to tackle our environmental woes.

Photo Credit: nrkbeta

68 comments

Chad Anderson
Chad Anderson12 days ago

Thank you.

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Dan Blossfeld
Dan Blossfeld24 days ago

Annabel B.,
Sounds great, if it works. Maybe we will see someday.

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Annabel Bedini
Annabel Bedini25 days ago

Dan B
Poetic justice would suggest they should work in the renewables field. You ask 'for what jobs would they be qualified?' and the answer is that once trained, they would be qualified.

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Dan Blossfeld
Dan Blossfeld25 days ago

Annabel B.,
I cannot speak for them directly, but I suspect they would. I also suspect they are hardworking and not very particular about the work they do, having worked in the mines all those years. However, they are unskilled workers. Training sounds great, but for what jobs would they be qualified?

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Annabel Bedini
Annabel Bedini26 days ago

Dan B
I take your point but how many of these coal miners would be glad to be offered an opportunity to change their job? Of course they may feel loyal to the work they and their forebears have traditionally done but if given the chance for a danger-free and healthier work environment don't you think they would welcome it?

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Dan Blossfeld
Dan Blossfeld26 days ago

Annabel,
I wish I had one. The problem with politics for the greater good, is that sometimes the greater good means stepping on the toes of others. It is fine to be altruistic in ones vision and goals, but compassion towards others needs to fit into that dream.

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Annabel Bedini
Annabel Bedini27 days ago

Dan b
Ah well, if 'easy' were the main criterion for choosing policies.... Of course it's a challenge, but what's the alternative?

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Dan Blossfeld
Dan Blossfeld27 days ago

Annabel B.,
No, I would not wish that on anyone. I am just saying that re-training and re-locating the workers is not as easy as it sounds. Many of these workers have little education and worked there all their lives (and probably generations before them). The smart ones have left already.

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Annabel Bedini
Annabel Bedini27 days ago

Dan B
So it's better to stay as a miner and die of black lung or become unemployed and unemployable when the mines close down?

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Dan Blossfeld
Dan Blossfeld27 days ago

Annabel B.,
Easier said than done. They would most likely have to uproot their family and move to where these new jobs exist.

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