While liberals like U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-NY, and U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., praise socialism, a prominent Florida Democrat pushed back last week.U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla., told a crowd at the BakerHostetler conference in Washington D.C. that she stands against her party’s increasingly leftward trend.
“The idea that in the greatest democracy, the greatest capitalist system in the world, we’re having casual conversation about socialism, offends me,” said the congresswoman.
Murphy told the crowd, she’s just the opposite. “I’m a proud capitalist,” said Murphy.
Now in her second term, the Central Florida congresswoman is described as a moderate by political analyst. She upset longtime U.S. Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., in 2016 and, despite representing a swing district, crushed Republican state Rep. Mike Miller last year.
Murphy is the leader of the Blue Dog Coalition, a group of moderate Democrats, a post she won earlier this year. The group started back in the 1994 during the Clinton presidency but its numbers dwindled, going down to 13 members back in 2013. Currently, there are 24 members, many of them freshmen. Murphy also chairs the Future Forum, a group of younger House Democrats.
Murphy said she is offended by the socialist label is because she grew up Vietnam, a country her family fled. The American system “built us the greatest nation and the greatest economy in the world,” said Murphy.
While she praised the American system, the congresswoman insisted the U.S. has to fix it’s inequities.
“We have to make sure everybody, no matter what ZIP code they’re born in, has a fair shot. But it is not the moment to undo the whole system and embrace something that Americans have spent blood and treasure fighting to save other countries from,” said Murphy.
Still, Murphy has increasingly focused on her biography, including at a speech at the Federation for American Hospitals Public Policy Conference and Business Exposition.
“A communist government had taken power in the country. And it sought to punish those citizens who had worked with American or South Vietnamese forces during the war. Both of my parents fell into that category,” Murphy said in that speech. “When I was a baby, and my brother was eight, my father and mother concluded that things had to change. They wanted us to be safe, to have freedom and dignity, and to have a fair shot at a better future—and they didn’t think any of this was possible in Vietnam. So we fled Vietnam by boat in the dead of night, alongside several other families, my father at the helm. My parents knew we might not survive the passage. But they had decided that it was better for our family to die together in search of light than to live in darkness. Years later, now that I’m the mother of two young children myself, I can’t imagine the courage this took. Unfortunately, several days into our attempted escape, our boat ran out of fuel in the middle of the South China Sea. We sent out an emergency call and began to drift. I assume the adults on the boat must have thought the end was near.
“Fate, however, had a different plan for us. Thanks to grace or good fortune, a U.S. Navy ship that was patrolling in the area received our distress signal and located our boat. The sailors onboard, all of them trained for combat, showed compassion for desperate strangers. They gave us the fuel and supplies we needed to reach a Malaysian refugee camp,” she added. “This was the moment that made the rest of my life possible. And although I was too young to realize it, this was also my first lesson in America’s uniquely wonderful combination of power and generosity. It’s a lesson I’ve re-learned many times since then, and one that is now etched into my heart.”
“After spending several months at the Malaysian refugee camp, my family again became the beneficiary of American kindness. President Carter, in the face of significant public skepticism, made the politically-courageous decision to increase the number of refugees from Southeast Asia that the United States would accept. This policy change set the stage for the members of a Lutheran Church in Virginia to sponsor my family’s passage to the U.S. We settled in Fredericksburg and eventually became proud American citizens. In the course of our physical journey from Vietnam to America, and our emotional journey from darkness to light, my family incurred an enormous debt of gratitude to this country. When I look back at my life, it’s clear that many of the choices I made were part of an effort to chisel away at this debt, while knowing that I could never do enough to repay it in full,” Murphy said.
“It’s the reason why, after 9/11, I left my job in the private sector, went to graduate school, and joined the Department of Defense as a civilian employee. When I saw the country that had rescued my family come under attack, I reacted in a very raw, emotional way. I realized—instinctively more than intellectually—that I had to do something—anything—to help. Ultimately, I spent four years as a national security specialist working under two secretaries of defense, who happened to be Republicans. It was one of the most fulfilling periods of my life. I served alongside men and women who didn’t give a darn about your political views. All that mattered was accomplishing the mission,” Murphy continued.
She’s also starting to become increasingly prominent on Capitol Hill, including being named to the powerful U.S. House Ways and Means Committee at the start of the year.
All of this has made Murphy one of the leading voices in her party trying to claim the center, even as most of the leadership heads left. It’ll be interesting to see how her efforts play out as the Democrats get ready to nominate a presidential candidate.
Contact Ed at Ed.Dean@FloridaDaily.com.