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Rob Smith's Comments as the Son of Single Mom Devastate AOC's 'Bootstrap' Claim

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Democratic socialist Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez found herself back in the limelight once again this week, scoring major points with the left-wing media over her dramatic dismissal of the American notion of “pulling yourself up by the bootstraps.”

Referring to the concept as an “impossibility” and a “joke,” the left’s fresh-faced socialist went viral Wednesday for her belittling of the American dream before a House Committe on Oversight and Reform hearing titled, “A Threat to America’s Children: The Trump Administration’s Proposed Changes to the Poverty Line Calculation,” according to TheBlaze.

“You know this idea and this metaphor of a bootstrap started off as a joke?” Ocasio-Cortez said, “Because it’s a physical impossibility to lift yourself up by a bootstrap, by your shoelaces. It’s physically impossible. The whole thing is a joke.”

Now, conservative commentator Rob Smith has alleged the viral moment was little more than a “veiled swipe” at his incredibly personal testimony before the committee — testimony that entirely undercuts Ocasio Cortez’s argument.

An openly gay black man and a United States Army veteran, Smith had been called before the committee earlier in the day by the minority party to shed light on his early life and argue in favor of the Trump administration’s attempts to more strongly curtail the welfare state.

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Smith, who was raised by a single mother in Akron, Ohio, told the body of his low-income upbringing, which included a short stint on public assistance and a seemingly endless imperative to strive toward a brighter future.

But the solution to those poor circumstances, he argued, was not a bigger government, but a strong commitment to individuality and the communal bonds that built this nation.

“Although we didn’t have much money or access to a whole lot of resources, [my mother] worked very hard to provide for her children,” Smith said. “Like many who grew up in Akron, Ohio, I attended some of the lowest-performing and underfunded schools in the neighborhood.

“Disaffected teachers would routinely come to class unprepared and my counselors had little idea of what to do with a student who, quite obviously, didn’t have an athletic scholarship ready and available for him upon graduation,” Smith continued.

“What we did have in our poor, working-class neighborhood, however, was a strong sense of community and an undying belief in self.”

It was those two core values — coupled with an immense love of country — that eventually led Smith to join the U.S. Army, where he served two tours of duty in the Middle East.

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In the years that followed, Smith would become the first member of his family to receive a university education, completing not only his bachelor’s degree, but also a master’s degree at Columbia University.

Smith, who is openly gay, would go on to advocate in favor of repealing the U.S. military’s “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy regarding homosexual service members, forge a strong career as a political analyst and meet both President Barack Obama and President Donald Trump — none of which would have been possible, he argued, had he accepted the modern American left’s victim mentality.

“The figureheads, activists and parents of my day always spoke positively of a brighter future,” Smith said. “One where they’d have successfully passed on the torch of leadership and hope of opportunity to us, so that we could pave the way for additional successes. Just like our forefathers and mothers had done for us.”

“I am living a life far beyond what my high school education and upbringing would have suggested,” Smith later added. “And I wouldn’t have been able to accomplish any of these things had my mentality and beliefs about self been any different.”

Do you think Ocasio-Cortez is wrong about the American dream?

“If I had succumbed to the soft bigotry of low expectations, or to any of the rhetoric from elected officials who wish to substitute the role that strong individuals and communities play in supporting each other with that of an all-powerful, unaccountable and bloated government,” he said, “where would I be today?”

A phenomenal question, no doubt.

In fact, as the child of a single mother myself — one lucky enough to have seen the impact of strong values, positive outlooks and communal and family support structures on one’s upbringing — I can safely say there is no greater question for young men and women like us.

As Smith alluded to, whether the nation would like to admit it or not, we have been left to count the social cost of allowing the government to take on the role of father in the American community — and that cost is great.

It has resulted in a crime problem, a values problem and an outlook problem.

You see, the American dream was not simply a flawed and powerful mythos, as the left would have you believe.

It was a reality, a driving force and an encouragement for each and every American to strive upwardly and live by a higher material and moral standard.

The American dream isn’t delusion — the left’s love of government and de-emphasis of the family has simply damaged it to the point of unrecognizability.

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Andrew J. Sciascia was the supervising editor of features at The Western Journal. Having joined up as a regular contributor of opinion in 2018, he went on to cover the Barrett confirmation and 2020 presidential election for the outlet, regularly co-hosting its video podcast, "WJ Live," as well.
Andrew J. Sciascia was the supervising editor of features at The Western Journal and regularly co-hosted the outlet's video podcast, "WJ Live."

Sciascia first joined up with The Western Journal as a regular contributor of opinion in 2018, before graduating with a degree in criminal justice and political science from the University of Massachusetts Lowell, where he served as editor-in-chief of the student newspaper and worked briefly as a political operative with the Massachusetts Republican Party.

He covered the Barrett confirmation and 2020 presidential election for The Western Journal. His work has also appeared in The Daily Caller.