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  • Writer's pictureNathan Max

Schmidt to AOC: You Deserve Respect

Steve Schmidt

Editor's Note: Steve Schmidt is one of the founding members of the Lincoln Project. He is a communications and public affairs strategist who has worked on several Republican campaigns, including John McCain's 2008 bid for the White House, and he is now a regular political contributor to MSNBC. Saturday afternoon, in his fifth tweetstorm in the last 24 hours, Schmidt followed up on his Friday night overture to New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. MaxNewsToday has assembled this 14-tweet thread and reprinted it as one easy-to-read op-ed for our ongoing segment, Schmidt Storm. It has been edited for grammar and clarity. Last week, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez made a profoundly true observation about Republican members who make fun of her for having been a waitress. I think being a waitress is a qualification for being in Congress. We would have a much better Congress if it was comprised of more people who actually worked at some point in their lives. I know, for me, that working hard jobs for tree trimming and landscape companies, and digging holes for a pool company, shaped my work ethic and fundamental values. The point she made was that the people making fun of her couldn’t get through a shift, and she is entirely correct.

Photo Credit: AP. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Many people have asked me about minimum-wage increases. I support them. I think they are reasonable, and the reality is that when people have to get government assistance to make it when they are working full time, it means that we are subsidizing the employer, and I am against corporate welfare. 40 percent of the country doesn’t have $400 cash available. That reality is destabilizing our democracy and is fundamental to understanding how a grifter like Trump succeeded politically. I turned 50-years-old this year, and as I think about the near 30 years I’ve been in politics, one of the things that stands out is the staleness of the political debate. The world has changed, but the debate hasn’t. No problems are getting solved, and the problems we have are getting worse. Here is a problem I think is acute, and my view of these issues has changed a great deal over the last ten years. I believe we have too much wealth and too much power accumulated in too few places. We have a crisis of big in America. Big Tech, Big Banks, Big Media, Big everything. Big everything isn’t working for the overwhelming majority of people in this country. There are tens of millions of people who can’t open bank accounts and are lifetime prey for predatory lenders. Some people have said I was condescending to a congresswoman. It was not my intention. Here is what I was trying to say. You don’t know a person through a Twitter account, and we live in a time where our democracy is facing a grave internal threat the likes of which we have never seen before. I will never stop saying the following, so long as I have a platform to say it. It is extremely important that people who have big disagreements within the democracy coalition approach and work with each other through a prism of good will. Here is the difference between the pro-democracy coalition and Trump. The Trump coalition accommodates no dissent, and it has no real debates. It’s about Trump. He is an authoritarian. The pro-democracy side is messy, and there are a million opinions and convictions. This coalition cannot fail. We will lose the country if it does. The Lincoln Project will work within that coalition as a partner of good faith. We are proud of our many relationships and partnerships. Finally, a response about tipping. A lot of people rely on tips for their income, and I am astonished by how many people are bad tippers. When I go out to eat, I can make someone’s day or night. It’s not a big thing. In fact it’s a little thing. It’s a way of showing respect for hard work. I have been focused on the practice of gratitude and appreciating small things this year. I believe if you can do something to make someone’s day, do it. It’s not just waiters and waitresses who rely on tips. It’s valet parking attendants, doormen, hotel staff, etc... Before COVID-19, I was traveling 300,000 miles a year, and the reality of that life means a lot of tipping, because you rely on people who work in the service industry.

One of my core convictions in life is the following: There is worth and purpose in every life and everybody who works hard and plays by the rules. No matter what they do for a living deserves respect. It’s one of my top 3 dad speeches to my kids, and I mean every word of it.


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