Exclusive Interview with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Candidate for Congress NY-14
We had the opportunity to interview Alexandria about her campaign and vision for the future. We loved what she had to say in response to our questions, and think you will too.
Tell us about NY-14 — what makes it unique?
United States Congress, New York’s 14th Congressional District. NY-14 spans across the Bronx and Queens. We are a hard-working middle class district and richly diverse in geography, culture, and history. Our current representative was initially granted the seat through a deadline loophole — he accepts $3 million per year in corporate funding, has been under an investigation by the House Ethics Committee and has never faced a serious primary challenger until now. We’re here to return this seat to the working families that make up this district.
What do you think is the biggest struggle for people in your community? What can you do to fix it?
New Yorkers are getting priced out of their homes and standard of living. New York City real estate is often used to hide assets, subvert the law and avoid reasonable tax obligations. As a consequence, millions of people struggle to pay rent and make ends meet. Our plan re-institutes many protections for middle class livable income.
We are also a heavily immigrant-friendly district. We have a new generation of families from places like Korea, Ecuador, and Bangladesh who embarking on their own American story. And they deserve the same opportunities as any other immigrant in this country. We need to have the courage to stand up and protect DACA youth and pursue broad immigration reform. I often think of our immigration system as a leaky bucket: the byzantine and expensive rules with moving deadlines create situations of undocumented families living in fear. We need to reform this system and make the proper investments so that it the rules are clear, fair, and supportive of the American Dream. It’s harder than building a wall, but it’s worth it.
How have you been active in your community in the past? What have you learned from your involvement?
I’ve always felt that community involvement is part of being a whole human being. Whether it’s supporting our local neighborhood concerts, advocating for my goddaughter’s access to public education, or working on a project for early childhood literacy, I’ve been constantly amazed at how much people truly care about each other. It’s true. We all do want better lives for ourselves and each other, we just need to focus that energy in a coordinated and organized effort.
What policies or issues are most important to you in your campaign?
- Jobs and Middle Class Growth: Our platform includes a bold proposal for a modern New Deal that includes the full infrastructure investment that we have been putting off for decades. We need new bridges and roads; we need to switch to a renewable economy by 2028, and we need to retrofit our energy system to accommodate. It’s going to take putting a lot of people to work to get there.
- Medicare for All: We are well past the time for proper health care in this country. I am very proud that our campaign made national impact on this issue in the first week: the incumbent folded on Medicare for All just days after we announced our primary challenge. This was after years of opposing dignified healthcare in this country due to his insurance-lobby money. The pressure our supporters generated on this issue caused direct change, and it’s only the very beginning
- Clean Energy and Environment: We are facing an existential crisis that is directly tied to our climate and environment. But it is also the source of enormous opportunity. As I mentioned in our jobs discussion, the task of switching our energy economy will necessitate a massive push in job creation, technological innovation, and increased education standards across the board.
What policies are most important to you personally?
Repealing Citizen’s United and passing a Constitutional amendment to stem the influence of money in politics; criminal justice reform; opening higher education and trade schools to all; and immigration reform
What is your strategy for bringing progressives together?
I don’t see our platform as Left vs. Right. We are here to unite everyday people of middle and working class backgrounds. We also aren’t leaving anyone behind: in order for us all to advance, we must champion the issues of our neighbors and people of different backgrounds. Otherwise we will be picked apart until there is no one left to protect.
This campaign is about proposing and advancing a bold agenda for middle class Americans. Period. You’re either in or you’re out. I’m not afraid of drawing a line in the sand on this issue.
How can people help you in your campaign?
Donate to our campaign. We are entirely grassroots-funded. Sign up and offer your skills at www.Ocasio2018.com. Introductions to local groups and reposting your support on social media help a great deal as well Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are all @Ocasio2018.