Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a 28-year-old former organizer for Senator Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign, is running to represent New York’s 14th district in Congress, facing down the kingmakers of the national Democratic Party establishment.
Ocasio-Cortez is currently running to unseat Representative Joe Crowley, a Democrat who has represented the area in Congress since 1998 and serves as chair of the House Democratic Caucus. On Wednesday, she released a new video that’s fierce, unapologetic, and—even for my cold, cynical heart—inspiring. In short, it’s everything a political ad should be:
“Women like me aren’t supposed to run for office,” Ocasio-Cortez says as the video begins. “I wasn’t born to a wealthy or powerful family—mother from Puerto Rico, dad from the South Bronx. I was born in a place where your zip code determines your destiny.”
Her narration continues (emphasis mine):
My name is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. I’m an educator, an organizer, a working-class New Yorker. I’ve worked with expectant mothers. I’ve waited tables and led classrooms. And going into politics wasn’t in the plan. But after 20 years of the same representation, we have to ask: Who has New York been changing for?
Every day gets harder for working families like mine to get by. The rent gets higher, health care covers less, and our income stays the same. It’s clear that these changes haven’t been for us, and we deserve a champion. It’s time to fight for a new York that working families can afford. That’s why I’m running for Congress.
This race is about people versus money—we’ve got people, they’ve got money. It’s time we acknowledged that not all Democrats are the same. That a Democrat who takes corporate money, profits off foreclosure, doesn’t live here, doesn’t send his kids to our schools, doesn’t drink our water or breathe our air, cannot possibly represent us.
What the Bronx and Queens needs is Medicare for all, tuition-free public college, a federal jobs guarantee, and criminal justice reform. We can do it now. It doesn’t take 100 years to do this. It takes political courage.
A New York for the many is possible. It’s time for one of us.
Crowley, the incumbent candidate in the race, has been a vocal critic of the Trump administration. Last year, Crowley introduced a bill that would grant green cards to undocumented immigrants who served in the rescue, recovery, and clean-up efforts in the wake of 9/11. And last fall, he bucked his fellow House Democratic leaders by signing onto Representative John Conyers’ Medicare for All bill. He also hasn’t faced a primary opponent in 14 years, was handpicked for the seat by the previous Queens party chair, and, as the fourth-ranking Democrat in the U.S. House, has the full force—and funding—of the party establishment behind him.
While Crowley is further left than the average elected Democrat, it’s significant that a young, progressive woman of color from a working class background is running to represent her home district. New York’s Democratic primary takes place on June 26.