Marek Warszawski

Don’t buy into this Republican’s misleading ad about Ocasio-Cortez. Be smarter than that

Elizabeth Heng thinks you’re stupid.

Yes, you. Heng thinks you’re dumber than a pile of bricks. She thinks you’re the person who fell asleep during history and civics class, pays scant attention to global politics and is easily swayed by misleading ads on television and social media.

If you happen to be a registered voter in California’s 16th Congressional District, which includes a good chunk of Fresno, Heng has even less respect for your intelligence. The California Republican believes she can pull the wool over your eyes like a cuffed beanie.

Heng and the Political Action Committee calling itself the New Faces of GOP are counting on your ignorance. They’re confident in the fact that you don’t know, or can’t tell, the difference between a form of government known as democratic socialism and totalitarian regimes.

All so they can use their own intellectual dishonesty to score political points and perhaps sway a few weak minds at the ballot box.


How else to describe Heng’s latest TV spot, which aired in Fresno during last week’s Democrat party debate?

“This is the face of socialism and ignorance,” Heng’s voiceover says while a photograph of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez bursts into flames, replaced by human skulls.

“Does AOC know the horror of socialism? My father was minutes from death in Cambodia before a forced marriage saved his life. That’s socialism.”

No, it’s not. The horrors that Heng’s family and millions of Cambodians endured in the 1970s were caused by an autocratic, dictatorial regime. The Khmer Rouge seized power via military overthrow, not from any electoral process.

That bloody chapter in Cambodia’s history is much closer to Nazi Germany, the USSR under Joseph Stalin or modern day North Korea than the form of democratic socialism espoused by Bernie Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez.

Heng and her ilk, with encouragement from President Trump, want Americans to believe that there’s little difference between the two.

Don’t swallow the baloney. Instead, understand the difference between dictatorships that exert control of businesses and limit the rights of citizens and democracies that provide universal health care, child care and free college education.

The former is a top-down model of governance. The latter pushes for a redistribution (at least partially) of wealth from the bottom up.

In short, they’re not even close to the same thing.

By conflating the two, politicians like Heng are either ignorant of the truth or confident that you are. They prey upon your lack of understanding and confusion.

Some people will read this as a defense, or even support, of socialism. It isn’t, though I do believe that Americans deserve a form of health care that doesn’t leave them bankrupt while lining the pockets of Big Pharma.

If holding that view makes me a socialist, then fine. Just as long as the finger-waggers cancel their Medicare, return their farm subsidies and rip up the rebate checks for those solar panels they purchased.

Because those are all forms of socialism too.

But of course, Heng isn’t about to go on TV and denounce socialism by rallying against Medicare or farm subsidies. In the 16th Congressional district, that would amount to political suicide.

So instead she borrows from her family’s backstory and wraps the tale around a heaping tablespoon of false fear-mongering.

Be smarter than that, Fresno. Be smarter than Heng thinks you are.

Marek Warszawski: 559-441-6218, @MarekTheBee

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Marek Warszawski writes opinion columns on news, politics, sports and quality of life issues for The Fresno Bee, where he has worked since 1998. He is a Bay Area native, a UC Davis graduate and lifelong Sierra frolicker. He welcomes discourse with readers but does not suffer fools nor trolls.