Leadership

Young political star Ocasio-Cortez: In a moral, wealthy society, 'no person in America should be too poor to live’

Progressive challenger Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is joined by New York guvenatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon at her victory party in the Bronx after upsetting incumbent Democratic Representative Joseph Crowly on June 26, 2018 in New York City. 
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Progressive challenger Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is joined by New York guvenatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon at her victory party in the Bronx after upsetting incumbent Democratic Representative Joseph Crowly on June 26, 2018 in New York City. 

“I want to confess that I did not know your name on Monday,” Stephen Colbert told his guest, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, on CBS's “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” on Thursday.

The 28-year-old Hispanic woman from the Bronx, laughed and didn’t break stride: “Most people didn’t,” she says.

Ocasio-Cortez beat 10-term incumbent Joe Crowley in the Democratic primary for the 14th Congressional District of New York on Tuesday. Crowley, the fourth-ranking Democrat in the House of Representatives, was expected to replace Nancy Pelosi as the minority leader. If Ocasio-Cortez goes on to win the seat in Congress, which she is expected to in her overwhelmingly Democratic district, she will become the youngest woman ever elected to Congress.

Ocasio-Cortez describes herself as a Democratic Socialist, and she explained what that means to her to Colbert.

“So for me, Democratic Socialism is about ... really the value for me is that I believe that in a modern, moral and wealthy society, no person in America should be too poor to live. That’s what I feel,” Ocasio-Cortez says.

“Seems pretty simple.… So what that means to me is health care as a human right. It means that every child, no matter where you are born, should have access to a college or trade school education if they so choose it. And, you know, I think that no person should be homeless if we can have public structures and public policy to allow for people to have homes and food and lead a dignified life in the United States,” she explained to Colbert.

Three weeks before the election, polls showed Ocasio-Cortez was 36 points down against Crowley, but she won by 15 points, Colbert observed. Ocasio-Cortez pointed out that polling is not always accurate, but she also believes she inspired a new block of voters to turn out.

When asked about her constituents, Ocasio-Cortez says, “Well, I will tell you one thing: We were about eight minutes 'til the polls were closing and I was in my home neighborhood in the Bronx... It was eight minutes until the polls closed and these two teenage-looking kids came up to me and [were] like, ‘We just voted for you!’ And I was like, ‘How old are you?’ And they are like, ‘19!’ And I was like, ‘Oh. Nineteen years old voting in an off-year, midterm primary election.’”

Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign — which was run without corporate donors — was based on proposals including Medicare for all, housing as a human right, a federal jobs guarantee with minimum wage of $15 an hour and abolishing Immigration and Customs Enforcement. She was a former organizer for Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign.

President Donald Trump celebrated Crowley’s loss on twitter, chastising the long-time Congressman for not being nicer to him. Colbert, in reference to the President’s tweet, asked Ocasio-Cortez whether she planned to be “nicer” to the President.

“Well you know, the President is from Queens and with all due respect, half of my district is from Queens. I don’t think he knows how to deal with a girl from the Bronx,” she responded.

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