Four incoming Republican members of Congress with personal experiences with communist or socialist countries are teaming up to form a "Freedom Force" to stand up to the radical left, and they want more members of the freshman class of lawmakers to join them.
Reps.-elect Nicole Malliotakis (R-N.Y.), Carlos Gimenez (R-Fla.), Maria Elvira Salazar (R-Fla.), and Victoria Spartz (R-Ind.) are positioning themselves to be a "conservative counterweight" to the democratic socialist "Squad" and its ringleader, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), according to a Politico profile of the newly elected GOPers. These representatives, who will be sworn into office on Jan. 3, bonded during orientation over their shared experiences with socialist countries, pledging to unite to fight big government here in the U.S.
"It was a natural alliance that formed. … We understand what it's like in other countries. We understand how truly special this nation is," Malliotakis, whose mother is from Cuba, said. "And we look forward to working together to push back on anyone who tries to bring a socialist agenda to America."
Gimenez, 66, is an immigrant from Cuba who fled to the United States as a child, around the time of the communist revolution led by Fidel Castro. Salazar, another Cuban-American, is a former TV journalist for the Spanish-language network Telemundo and the daughter of Cuban exiles. Both Republicans campaigned heavily on opposing socialism, messages that resonated with Hispanic voters and helped them each defeat Democratic incumbents.
Spartz is a Ukrainian-American who immigrated to the U.S. in 2000 at age 22 and became a U.S. citizen in 2006. When she was born in Ukraine in 1978, the country was still under communist control and did not gain independence until 1991, when she was 13. Spartz will be the first immigrant member of Congress from the former Soviet Union.
These four are joined by other freshman Republicans, including Reps.-elect Young Kim and Michelle Steel, Korean immigrants who will represent districts in California. Steel tells stories about how her parents escaped Korea and fled to Japan before the communist takeover of the northern part of the country.
Malliotakis explained to Politico that she and other Republicans want young people to understand the dangers posed by socialist ideology.
"We want to make sure, particularly young people, understand that socialism is not something grand," she said.
This newly elected generation of Republicans comprises historic numbers of women and minorities joining the lawmaking body and leveraging social media to galvanize their supporters and establish their brands.
We are the New Face of the @GOP! So proud of my colleagues @Victoria_Spartz, the 1st immigrant from the former Sov… https://t.co/3l6vMxKlGT— María Elvira Salazar 🇺🇸 (@María Elvira Salazar 🇺🇸) 1606956405.0
Politico credited Ocasio-Cortez with inspiring this new style of transparent, "pull-back-the-curtain style of politics":
Many members of the GOP Force — who, like the Squad, are mostly young and female — have even adopted Ocasio-Cortez's pull-back-the-curtain style of politics. Ocasio-Cortez is known to post videos as she preps meals while casually discussing legislation coming to the floor.
Mace recently documented her journey through freshman orientation, which included getting lost in the Capitol building and racing across the campus. Salazar, who is credited with coining the Force moniker, posted a picture of the female group members with the caption: "We're all working moms & we're a true FORCE to be reckoned with!"
And earlier this summer, Salazar, a former broadcast journalist for Telemundo, got nearly 600,000 views on a Twitter video in which she recorded herself in the Goya aisle of a grocery store blasting Ocasio-Cortez for pushing a boycott on the company for its leadership's support for Trump.
"I want to be different. I don't want it to be the same old, same old. This is a new Republican Party," said Rep.-elect Nancy Mace (R-S.C.), who made history as the first woman to graduate from the Citadel. "We have to be different if we want to survive and be successful in the long term."
Asked what she thought of "the Force," Ocasio-Cortez told Politico, "Imitation is a high form of flattery, right? So, I'm glad they think that way of me."