While stumping in Kansas on Friday, Democratic Socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who is running for Congress in New York, seemingly equated voting for Democrats with abolishing slavery.
Ocasio-Cortez was there with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) to stump for Democrat James Thompson, who is facing a tough congressional election against Rep. Ron Estes (R).
What did Ocasio-Cortez say?
She related to the audience by explaining what she learned when she was assigned a class project on Kansas in elementary school. She explained:
I learned that Kansas was founded in a struggle over the conscience of this nation. It was when we were deciding who we wanted to be as a country. It was when we were deciding who we wanted to be with the Kansas-Nebraska Act. The people who were…leading this nation said, ‘You decide’ to the people. ‘You decide: Are we going to be a slave state or are we going to be a free state?’ And it was in 1861 that the people of Kansas decided that we were going to be a free nation.
Back then, the people of Kansas were the tipping point for the future of this nation, and today, they are again. … But what this moment requires of us, just as it was in 1861, what this moment requires of us is for everyday people to do more than they have ever done before to reclaim the soul of this nation.
The Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854, introduced by then-Sen. Stephen Douglas (D-Ill.), sought to organize the Nebraska territory for the benefit of a transcontinental railroad. To gain the support of southern lawmakers, Douglas proposed creating two states — Kansas and Nebraska — allowing those who live in the territories to decide if they wanted their state to allow slavery or be free; the principle is known as “popular sovereignty.”
Kansas was eventually flooded with pro-slavery and anti-slavery interests, leading to a period of civil war known as “Bleeding Kansas.” After years of strife, Kansas was admitted to the Union as a free state in January 1861, less than 3 months before the start of the Civil War.
Nebraska gained statehood in March 1867, nearly 2 years after the end of the Civil War and more than 1 year after the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery, was ratified to the Constitution.
What else did she say?
Of course, Ocasio-Cortez lauded “Medicare for all,” free university education for every American child, and a universal income.
“This is the defining moment, not for the state of Kansas, but for the nation,” she said.