Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

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© Image Copyright : Photo from Wikimedia Commons / Author of Photo: U.S. House of Representatives

Overview

Background Born in the Bronx, New York, on October 13, 1989, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was raised by a mother from Puerto Rico and a father who had graduated from the Pratt Institute and was a founder of Kirschenbaum & Ocasio-Roman Architects (KORA). Because of the father’s role in establishing the firm, KORA operated as a “certified minority


Background

Born in the Bronx, New York, on October 13, 1989, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was raised by a mother from Puerto Rico and a father who had graduated from the Pratt Institute and was a founder of Kirschenbaum & Ocasio-Roman Architects (KORA). Because of the father’s role in establishing the firm, KORA operated as a “certified minority business enterprise,” a designation that came with an assortment of significant privileges – most notably, special preference in the awarding of lucrative government contracts.

Beginning in 1991, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was raised in Yorktown Heights, an affluent, mostly-white town in Westchester County, New York. After her father died from cancer in September 2008, Ocasio-Cortez went on to earn degrees in both economics and international relations at Boston University. During her time as a student there, she also worked for the late Senator Ted Kennedy on matters involving immigration and foreign affairs.

After graduating from college in 2011, Ocasio-Cortez returned to her hometown and took jobs as a bartender and waitress to supplement her mother’s income as a house cleaner and bus driver. In 2012 she started a publishing company, Brook Avenue Press (BAP), which produced children’s books portraying the Bronx in a positive light. (The state of New York dissolved BAP in October 2016, which occurs when a business fails to file a tax return or pay its corporate taxes. On July 6, 2017, the state placed a warrant on the company for non-payment of corporate taxes. As of March 2019, BAP still owed $1,870.36.)

Ocasio-Cortez also began to establish herself as an effective community organizer, most notably as a result of her 2016 participation in protests against proposals to situate a portion of the Dakota Access [Oil] Pipeline within the confines of North Dakota’s Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. Recognizing Ocasio-Cortez’s potential for eventually blossoming into an influential political figure, the newly formed leftist organization Brand New Congress contacted her and encouraged her to run for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. That same year, Ocasio-Cortez served as an organizer for Senator Bernie Sanderss presidential bid.

In December 2017, Ocasio-Cortez spoke at a Black Lives Matter rally.

Congressional Campaign & Election of 2018

In early 2018, Ocasio-Cortez launched a campaign for a U.S. House seat representing New York’s 14th Congressional District. When she first filed the necessary paperwork to become a candidate, she mistakenly declared that she was running to represent the neighboring 15th District; she corrected the error a number of days later.

Ocasio-Cortez’s run for Congress came into being as a result of a recruiting campaign organized by a group called Justice Democrats (JD), which in 2017 began holding auditions for potential candidates to run for various U.S. Congressional seats on its leftist political platform. Ocasio-Cortez’s brother Gabriel submitted her name to JD. Upon meeting the young woman, JD perceived her to be someone whose charisma and persona could be harnessed effectively for political purposes. Thus the organization made Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign its top priority. Toward that end, JD scripted and produced her campaign videos while also coordinating all of her fundraising, social media, and voter mobilization activities.

Identity politics played a major role in Ocasio-Cortez’s congressional campaign, as noted in a June 27, 2018 New York Times report stating that she “was unafraid to foreground race, gender, age and class.” Her platform was founded upon calls for: a government-run universal healthcare system which she dubbed “Medicare-for-all”; a federal jobs guarantee; tuition-free public colleges; stricter limits to the Second Amendment; criminal-justice reform rooted in the notion that the existing justice system was awash in inequity against nonwhite minorities; “housing as a human right”; and the dissolution of the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency. “As overseen by the Trump administration,” said Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign website, “ICE operates with virtually no accountability, ripping apart families and holding our friends and neighbors indefinitely in inhumane detention centers scattered across the United States. Alex[andria] believes that if we are to uphold civic justice, we must abolish ICE and see to it that our undocumented neighbors are treated with the dignity and respect owed to all people, regardless of citizenship status.”

Against great odds, Ocasio-Cortez ran in the Democratic primary against 56-year-old incumbent Joe Crowley, a 19-year congressional veteran who: (a) had not faced a primary challenger in 14 years; (b) was the fourth-highest-ranking Democratic leader in the House; and (c) was considered a favorite to be named as House Speaker if Democrats recaptured control of the House in the 2018 midterm elections. Despite being heavily outspent by Rep. Crowley, Ocasio-Cortez won the Democratic congressional primary for the 14th District in June 2018. “The community is ready for a movement of economic and social justice,” said the victor. “That is what we tried to deliver.”

Following Ocasio-Cortez’s primary victory over Crowley, 32-year-old Saikat Chakrabarti became her campaign manager. Chakrabarti was a wealthy young man who had co-founded a Silicon Valley firm in 2010 and purchased a $1.6 million home in 2018.

Among the more noteworthy supporters and endorsers of Ocasio-Cortez’s 2018 congressional campaign were Bernie Sanders, Zephyr Teachout, Cynthia Nixon, Barack ObamaMoveOn.org, Our Revolution, the Democratic Socialists of America, and Black Lives Matter. Moreover, U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee contributed money to the campaign. 

On November 6, 2018, Ocasio-Cortez won the general election in her heavily Democratic district, capturing 77.9% of the vote and becoming the youngest woman ever elected to Congress. When she showed up for a Congressional Democrat luncheon a week later, she was, according to a tweet she subsequently posted, “stopped bc it was assumed I was an intern/staffer.” “Next time try believing women + people of color when they talk about their experiences being a woman or person of color,” she added.

Upon becoming a member of the House of Representatives, Ocasio-Cortez joined the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

In a January 2019 interview with the Washington Post, Ocasio-Cortez mocked her critics and told them to “enjoy being exhausted for the next two years while we run train on the progressive agenda.” “Run train” is a slang term that means, as the Urban Dictionary notes, “to gangbang” (sexually assault) someone with “several friends.”

Stance on Israel

When the Israeli military on May 14, 2018 killed approximately 60 people who were among the scores of thousands of rioters violently protesting the Trump administration’s decision to relocate the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, Ocasio-Cortez condemned the Jewish state by tweeting that same day: “This is a massacre…. No state or entity is absolved of mass shootings of protesters. There is no justification. Palestinian people deserve basic human dignity, as anyone else. Democrats can’t be silent about this anymore.”

In a July 2018 interview on PBS’s Firing Line with Margaret Hoover, Ocasio-Cortez, when asked to explain her views regarding Israel, falsely claimed that the Jewish state was illegally occupying a state or region called Palestine: “I also think that what people are starting to see, at least in the occupation of Palestine, is just an increasing crisis of humanitarian condition, and that to me is just where I tend to come from on this issue.” Asked to explain her use of the word “occupation,” she replied, “Oh, um, I think what I meant is, like, the settlements that are increasing in some of these areas and places where, um, Palestinians are experiencing difficulty in access to their housing and homes.” When she was then asked to “expand on that,” the congressional candidate said, with a laugh: “I am not the expert on geopolitics on this issue. You know, for me, I’m a firm believer in finding a two-state solution in this issue. And I’m happy to sit down with leaders on both of these — for me, I just look at things through a human rights lens, and I may not use the right words.”

In an interview soon thereafter with Democracy Now!, Ocasio-Cortez was asked if she still favored a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and she carefully avoided giving a definitive answer: “Well, you know, I think this is a conversation that I’m engaging with, with activists right now…. I’m sitting down with lots of activists in this movement … and I’m looking forward to engaging in this conversation.”

The Daily Wire reports that Ocasio-Cortez’s congressional campaign apparently hired a man named Robert Akleh to be a field director, even though another Democrat who had previously employed Akleh in 2014, New York State Senate candidate Oliver Koppell, fired him for making remarks that were anti-Semitic.

On February 3, 2019, Ocasio-Cortez tweeted praise for British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn after having had a phone conversation with him. Wrote the congresswoman: “It was an honor to share such a lovely and wide-reaching conversation with you, @jeremycorbyn! Also honored to share a great hope in the peace, prosperity, + justice that everyday people can create when we uplift one another across class, race, + identity both at home & abroad.” Corbyn over the years has lavished praise on Marxist dictators like Salvador Allende and Hugo Chavez; has described Hamas and Hezbollah as his “friends”; and has urged Britain to end its designation of Hamas as a terrorist organization.

In a July 2019 interview on the hip-hop radio show Ebro in the Morning, host Ebro Darden said: “How do you have white supremacist Jews? How do you have these individuals who are legit aligning with racism and white supremacy, but they’re Jewish? It’s something that most people can’t wrap their brains around. But it’s a real thing. What’s going on with Israel and Palestine, while it’s very, very, deep, it is very, very, criminal, and it is very, very unjust.” In response, Ocasio-Cortez said, “Absolutely.” Added the congresswoman: “Criticizing the occupation doesn’t make you anti-Israel, frankly. It doesn’t mean that you are against the existence of a nation. It means that you believe in human rights, and it’s about making sure that Palestinian human rights are equal to Israeli human rights, and there are a lot of troubling things happening there.” Ocasio-Cortez then endorsed the legitimacy of Palestinian mob violence, stating: “I believe that injustice is a threat to the safety of all people, because once you have a group that is marginalized and marginalized and marginalized — once someone doesn’t have access to clean water, they have no choice but to riot, right?”

Ties to Radical Islamists

In September 2018, Ocasio-Cortez defended and praised the Islamist activist Linda Sarsour, tweeting: “This woman putting it all on the line for healthcare, women & LGBT+ rights is @lsarsour. The far right constantly maligns her w/ false attacks + threats of violence. Yet here she is, as always, fighting for everything our flag represents” — a reference to Sarsour’s effort to derail the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

Views on Socialism, Capitalism, & Economics

Ocasio-Cortez is a proud member of the Democratic Socialists of America. In an interview published by Vogue magazine on June 25, 2018, she described socialism as the political system most compatible with “democratic participation in our … economic, social and racial dignity.” “To me,” Ocasio-Cortez elaborated, “what socialism means is to guarantee a basic level of dignity. It’s asserting the value of saying that the America we want and the America we are proud of is one in which all children can access a dignified education. It’s one in which no person is too poor to have the medicines they need to live. It’s to say that no individual’s civil rights are to be violated. And it’s to say that we need to really examine the historical inequities that have created much of the inequalities – both in terms of economics and social and racial justice – because they are intertwined.”

In a July 2018 PBS interview, Ocasio-Cortez was asked if perhaps capitalism was “no longer the best vehicle for working-class Americans.” After replying that “[u]nemployment is [currently] low because people are working 60, 70, 80 hours a week and can barely feed their kids,” Ocasio-Cortez said: “I do think that right now we have this no-holds-barred, Wild West hyper-capitalism. What that means is profit at any cost. Capitalism has not always existed in the world, and it will not always exist in the world. When this country started, we were not a capitalist [nation], we did not operate on a capitalist economy.” In the same interview:

  • Ocasio-Cortez said: “I do think that, absolutely, capitalism was the most efficient and best economy, perhaps, for the time that it was at, perhaps. But as we evolve, as automation begins to really take out extremely large industries, we need to say that we’re not going to throw those people away.”
  • When Hoover asked if Democratic Socialism “calls for an end to capitalism,” Ocasio-Cortez said: “Ultimately, we are marching towards progress on this issue. I do think that we are going to see an evolution in our economic system of an unprecedented degree.”
  • When Hoover said, “It sounds like you’re skeptical that capitalism is going to continue to be the right answer,” Ocasio-Cortez replied: “Yeah, I think it’s at least a question. I think it’s absolutely a question.”

In an August 2018 interview on the liberal podcast Pod Save America, Ocasio-Cortez said: “I think that politically, this upper-middle class is probably more moderate, but that upper-middle class doesn’t exist anymore in America, and thanks to the continued deregulation of Wall Street, thanks to the continued gutting of working- and middle-class people, we need stronger champions.” Contrary to her assertion, however, both the Urban Institute and the American Enterprise Institute had recently documented the fact that the upper-middle class was in fact expanding.

In a January 21, 2019 interview conducted by Ta-Nehisi Coates, Ocasio-Cortez asserted that “a system that allows billionaires to exist” is immoral, particularly while there are “parts of Alabama where people are still getting ringworm because they don’t have access to public health.” “Are we comfortable with a society where someone can have a helipad while [New York City] is experiencing the highest rates of people experiencing homelessness since the Great Depression?” she asked, referring to the helipad that Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos was expected to have at the new headquarters which his company was building in New York. “Where do we draw the line in excess?” said Ocasio-Cortez. “Is our material technology outpacing our moral technology?” The idea that an American might aspire to “‘be a billionaire and own more than millions of families combined’ is not an aspirational or good thing,” she added.

In a March 9, 2019 interview with Briahna Gray, senior politics editor for the Intercept, Ocasio-Cortez was critical of capitalism, saying: “Capitalism, to me, it’s an ideology of capital. The most important thing is the concentration of capital and it means that we seek and prioritize profit and the accumulation of money above all else, and we seek it at any human and environmental cost. That is what that means. And to me, that ideology is not sustainable and cannot be redeemed…. What we are reckoning with are the consequences of putting profit above everything else in society.”

At a Bronx town hall meeting on June 3, 2019, Ocasio-Cortez asserted that all Americans should be able to live in luxury apartments managed by non-profit organizations or owned communally by the tenants, and that the government should pass legislation that designates housing as a “human right.” Some excerpts:

  • “What we have been taught that is a luxury should not be a luxury. Another world is possible. We can live with either responsible landlords, or we can live in buildings that are not-for-profit, or [are] tenant-owned. There are so many ways that we can slice this and we can structure it in a way where all people have a right to a dignified home and it’s not science fiction and it’s not just for the rich.”
  • “What we have been taught and what we have been conditioned is that basic rights are a luxury when they are not.”
  • “What are we doing to make sure that housing is being legislated as a human right? What does that mean? What it means is that our access and our ability and our guarantee to owning a home comes before someone else’s privilege to earn a profit.”

Health Care

In a fall 2018 interview, Jorge Ramos asked Ocasio-Cortez how the U.S. would be able to pay for Senator Bernie Sanders’s “Medicare for All” proposal, a single-payer healthcare initiative which Ocasio-Cortez was enthusiastically promoting. She replied: “People often say, how are you gonna pay for it? And I find the question so puzzling because, how do you pay for something that’s more affordable? How do you pay for cheaper rent? How do you pay for—you just pay for it.”

Environmentalism

In an October 2018 speech on her economic plan, Ocasio-Cortez likened the fight against climate change to the battle against Nazi Germany in World War II: “So we talk about existential threats, the last time we had a really major existential threat to this country was around World War II, and so we’ve been here before and we have a blueprint of doing this before…. What we had was an existential threat in the context of a war. We had a direct existential threat with another nation, this time it was Nazi Germany, and the Axis, who explicitly made the United States as an enemy, as an enemy. And what we did was that we chose to mobilize our entire economy and industrialized our entire economy and we put hundreds if not millions of people to work in defending our shores and defending this country. We have to do the same thing in order to get us to 100 percent renewable energy, and that’s just the truth of it.”

In another campaign appearance that same month, Ocasio-Cortez expounded upon her recent calls for a “Green New Deal” designed to make the U.S. 100 percent reliant on renewable energy (wind, water, solar) by 2035. “There’s no debate as to whether we should continue producing fossil fuels,” she said. “There’s no debate. We should not. Every single scientific consensus points to that.”

At a climate-change town hall meeting in December 2018, Ocasio-Cortez said that the Green New Deal “is going to be the Great Society, the moonshot, the civil rights movement of our generation. That is the scale of the ambition that this movement is going to require.”

In a January 2019 interview with Anderson Cooper on CBS This Morning, Ocasio-Cortez again spoke out in favor of the Green New Deal. When Cooper asked if she was “talking about everybody having to drive an electric car,” the congresswoman replied: “It’s going to require a lot of rapid change that we don’t even conceive as possible right now. What is the problem with trying to push our technological capacities to the furthest extent possible?” Ocasio-Cortez also stated that her energy plan would require wealthy people “to start paying their fair share in taxes.” When Cooper asked if she had a specific tax rate in mind, the lawmaker answered: “You know, it— you look at our tax rates back in the ’60s and when you have a progressive tax rate system. Your tax rate, you know, let’s say, from zero to $75,000 may be ten percent or 15 percent, et cetera. But once you get to, like, the tippy tops — on your 10 millionth dollar— sometimes you see tax rates as high as 60 or 70 percent. That doesn’t mean all $10 million are taxed at an extremely high rate, but it means that as you climb up this ladder you should be contributing more.”

  • At that point in the interview, Cooper suggested that Ocasio-Cortez was proposing “a radical agenda — compared to the way politics is done right now.” She replied: “Well, I think that it only has ever been radicals that have changed this country. Abraham Lincoln made the radical decision to sign the Emancipation Proclamation. Franklin Delano Roosevelt made the radical decision to embark on establishing programs like Social Security.” Cooper then asked, “Do you call yourself a radical?” To that, the congresswoman said: “Yeah. You know, if that’s what radical means, call me a radical.”
  • When Cooper asked how Ocasio-Cortez proposed to pay for her agenda items, she responded: “No one asks how we’re gonna pay for this [military] Space Force. No one asked how we paid for a $2 trillion tax cut. We only ask how we pay for it on issues of housing, healthcare and education. How do we pay for it? With the same exact mechanisms that we pay for military increases for this Space Force. For all of these— ambitious policies.”

After the widespread circulation of a video wherein Democrat Senator Dianne Feinstein told a group of young students that, contrary to their exhortations, she was not supporting the Green New Deal as outlined by Ocasio Cortez, the freshman congresswoman tweeted on February 22, 2019: “Yup. If you don’t like the #GreenNewDeal, then come up with your own ambitious, on-scale proposal to address the global climate crisis. Until then, we’re in charge — and you’re just shouting from the cheap seats.”

Speaking at a “Girls Who Code” event that same day in Queens, New York, Ocasio-Cortez, dismissed detractors of her Green New Deal, saying: “You know what? I don’t care anymore. I don’t care anymore, because again, I’m at least trying, and they’re not. So the power is in the person who’s trying, regardless of the success. If you’re trying, you’ve got all the power, you’re driving the agenda, you’re doing all this stuff. Like I just introduced the Green New Deal two weeks ago, and it’s creating all of this conversation. Why? Because no one else has even tried. Because no one else has even tried. So people are like, ‘Oh it’s unrealistic. Oh it’s vague. Oh it doesn’t address this little minute thing.’  And I’m like, ‘You try. You do it. Cuz you’re not. Cuz you’re not. So, until you do it, I’m the boss.’ How about that?’”

During an Instagram live video appearance on February 24, 2019, Ocasio-Cortez suggested that people might be well-advised to not have children, because of the horrors that climate change was likely to inflict upon the earth in the near future: “Our planet is going to hit disaster if we don’t turn this ship around and so it’s basically like, there’s a scientific consensus that the lives of children are going to be very difficult. And it does lead, I think, young people to have a legitimate question, you know, ‘Is it okay to still have children?’”

In early March 2019, the New York Post published an exposé revealing that despite Ocasio-Cortez’s dire warnings about the dangers of carbon emissions from fossil-fuel combustion, her congressional campaign, over the course of 18 months in 2017-18, “heavily relied on those combustible-engine cars — even though a subway station was just 138 feet from her Elmhurst campaign office.” Specifically, Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign spent $29,365.70 for 1,049 transactions with Uber, Lyft, Juno, and other car services — “even though her Queens HQ was a one-minute walk to the 7 train.” By contrast, the campaign “shelled out only $8,335.41 on 52 MetroCard transactions.” In addition, Ocasio-Cortez and her campaign staff logged “66 airline transactions costing $25,174.54,” as compared to only 18 trips with Amtrak – “despite high-speed rail being the cornerstone of her save-the-world strategy.” The Post also noted that Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign “billed only seven rides in yellow cabs in a year and a half,” despite her recent lamentation that “yellow cab drivers are in financial ruin due to the unregulated expansion of Uber.”

In April 2019, Ocasio-Cortez posted a tweet claiming that climate change was a key cause of global migration patterns: “The far-right loves to drum up fear & resistance to immigrants. But have you ever noticed they never talk about what‘s causing people to flee their homes in the first place? Perhaps that’s bc they’d be forced to confront 1 major factor fueling global migration: Climate change.”

During her 2018 congressional campaign and into the early months of 2019, Ocasio-Cortez repeatedly warned that if humanity were to fail to solve the climate crisis within about twelve years or so, the window of opportunity for saving the planet would be lost. For example:

  • At a January 2019 Martin Luther King Day forum in New York City, Ocasio-Cortez declared, to a round of applause from the audience: “I think the part of it that is generational is that millennials and people, in Gen Z, and all these folks that come after us are looking up and we’re like, the world is gonna end in 12 years if we don’t address climate change.
  • In April 2019, she tweeted: “Climate change is here + we’ve got a deadline: 12 years left to cut emissions in half. A #GreenNewDeal is our plan for a world and a future worth fighting for.
  • In an April 2019 video titled “A Message From the Future with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the congresswoman again said that the world had just “twelve years to change everything and to “transform our economy before “hundreds of millions of people would be more likely to face food and water shortages, poverty, and death.”
  • When an Instagram live-stream viewer subsequently mocked Ocasio-Cortez over the claim, the visibly annoyed congresswoman replied: “We have twelve years left to cut emissions by at least 50 percent if not more. For everyone who wants to make a joke about that, you may laugh, but you’re grandkids will not, so understand that the internet documents everything. Ocasio-Cortez then likened the skeptical viewer to the “bigoted people who had once “fought against principles of equal rights in the United States during the early civil-rights movement. “People who are trying to mock and delay this moment, I mean—I just feel bad for you, said the congresswoman. “I just pity you for your role in history right now.

But as her Green New Deal became increasingly unpopular and failed even to gain legislative support from congressional Democrats, Ocasio-Cortez suddenly changed her narrative and mocked her Republican critics for having taken her dire warnings about a 12-year time limit literally. On May 12, 2019, she tweeted: “This is a technique of the GOP, to take dry humor + sarcasm literally and ‘fact check’ it. Like the ‘world ending in 12 years’ thing, you’d have to have the social intelligence of a sea sponge to think it’s literal.

In a May 2019 stream-of-consciousness video discussion about composting, the Green New Deal, and community gardens, Ocasio-Cortez suggested that the vegetable cauliflower was an emblem of colonialism:

“Looks like they’ve got composting going on, which is so awesome, too, because composting is really hard to do in a neighborhood like this. We just don’t have the pick ups and the ease of it that a lot of other communities have. So that’s really how you do it, right, that is such a core component of the Green New Deal, is having all of these projects make sense in a cultural context…. But when you really think about it, when someone says that it’s too hard to do a green space that grows yucca instead of, I don’t know, cauliflower or something, what you’re doing is that you’re taking a colonial approach to environmentalism, and that is why a lot of communities of color get resistant to certain environmentalist movements, because they come with the colonial lens on them. And it should be no surprise that sometimes a lot of these projects don’t work out occasionally because our communities are naturally attuned to live in an environmentally conscious way.”

In an August 2019 live video session on Instagram, Ocasio-Cortez opined that climate change might unleash a variety of deadly diseases for which the modern world is unprepared. Said the congresswoman: “Scientists fear that there’s a potential that a lot of diseases could escape these melted glaciers, things that were frozen for thousands of years, and that they’re going to get into our water, and that humans could contract them, and they are going to be diseases that are thousands of years old that have vectors that we are not prepared for, that we have never seen.”

Immigration & Refugee Policy

In the fall of 2018, Ocasio-Cortez voiced solidarity with the massive “caravan” of thousands of Central American migrant asylum-seekers who had candidly voiced their intent to violate U.S. immigration laws and cross America’s southern border illegally. When hundreds of those migrants stormed past Mexican riot police, rushed the U.S. border at the port of entry in San Ysidro, and threw rocks at American authorities on November 25, Ocasio-Cortez tweeted: “Asking to be considered a refugee & applying for status isn’t a crime. It wasn’t for Jewish families fleeing Germany. It wasn’t for targeted families fleeing Rwanda. It wasn’t for communities fleeing war-torn Syria. And it isn’t for those fleeing violence in Central America.”

In February 2019 as well, Ocasio-Cortez delivered a speech wherein she called for the elimination of the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency, for the disregard of existing immigration laws, and for open borders between the United States and Mexico — while at the same time emphasizing that “we are a nation and land of laws”:

“[ICE] do not deserve a dime until they can prove that they are honoring human rights, until they can make a good faith effort to expand and embrace immigrants … Until they can prove good faith to an American ideal, they do not deserve any resources for their radical agenda. We have to have respect for children, respect for families, respect for human rights, and respect for the right of human mobility because it is a right. It is a right because we are standing on Native land, and Latino people are descendants of Native people. And we cannot be told and criminalized simply for our identity and our status. We are a nation and land of laws, not just [one where] some people are subject to laws and others are not. We are a land of laws.”

During a February 15, 2019 live stream for her political supporters, Ocasio-Cortez likened President Trump’s proposed border wall to the Berlin Wall that once separated communist East Germany from the free world. Said the congresswoman: “No matter how you feel about the wall, I think it’s a moral abomination. I think it’s like the Berlin Wall. I think it’s like any other wall designed to separate human beings and block out people who are running away from the humanitarian disasters. I just think it’s wrong.”

In a June 2019 Instagram video, Ocasio-Cortez said that the United States “is running concentration camps on our southern border” — a reference to detention centers where American authorities hold people who are apprehended for crossing illegally from Mexico into the United States. “That is exactly what they are,” she added. “They are concentration camps. If that doesn’t bother you…I want to talk to the people that are concerned enough with humanity to say that ‘never again’ means something…. The fact that concentrations camps are now an institutionalized practice in the home of the free is extraordinarily disturbing and we need to do something about it…. This isn’t just about immigrant communities being held in concentration camps being a crisis, this is a crisis for ourselves. This is a crisis on if America will remain America in its actual principles and values or if we are losing to an authoritarian and fascist presidency. I don’t use those words lightly. I don’t use those words to just throw bombs. I use that word because that is what an administration that creates concentration camps is. A presidency that creates concentration camps is fascist and it’s very difficult to say that.”

When making the foregoing remarks, Ocasio-Cortez failed to note that the president who had ordered the internment of Japanese-Americans in the 1940s was Democrat Franklin Delano Roosevelt, whom the congresswoman had recently praised for having “believed [that] healthcare, housing, education, and a living wage should be guaranteed rights in the United States of America.”

In response to pushback which she received from Republican legislators who claimed that her remarks about “concentration camps” minimized the Holocaust and were anti-Semitic, Ocasio-Cortez tweeted: “For the shrieking Republicans who don’t know the difference: concentration camps are not the same as death camps. Concentration camps are considered by experts as ‘the mass detention of civilians without trial.’ And that’s exactly what this administration is doing.”

Soon thereafter, a reporter from the Intercept asked Ocasio-Cortez: “How do you respond to Republicans who are talking about physical barriers being part of any package that deals with the actual crisis in terms of the traffic coming across?” The congresswoman replied: “If they want to do that, that’s fine … but they should not be using a humanitarian crisis as a bargaining chip to make sure they pursue their little torture project.”

Comments About Donald Trump

At a town hall meeting in December 2018, Ocasio-Cortez said told Cooper that while President Trump “certainly didn’t invent racism,” “he’s certainly given a voice to it and expanded it and created a platform for [it].” When Cooper asked the congresswoman if she believed that Trump was a racist, she replied: “Yeah. Yeah. No question…. When you look at the words that he uses, which are historic dog whistles of white supremacy. When you look at how he reacted to the Charlottesville incident, where neo-Nazis murdered a woman, versus how he manufactures crises like immigrants seeking legal refuge on our borders, it’s— it’s night and day.”

In January 2019 as well, Ocasio-Cortez voiced support for the rapper Cardi B, who had just stated that President Trump’s supporters were “fu**ing racist rednecks,” and that she personally “would have motherfu**in’ punched the wig out of Trump” if she had been in his presence during a recent White House event. When a TMZ reporter asked Ocasio-Cortez if more people like Cardi B should speak out about political matters, the congresswoman replied: “I do, I do. I mean, Bronx girls are gonna re-open the government, okay?” (This was a reference to the partial government shutdown that had been in effect for approximately four weeks.)

Ignorance About Government

In a video that she tweeted out on January 18, 2019, Ocasio-Cortez failed to accurately name the three branches of government. She said it was vital for Democrats to “work our butts off to make sure that we take back all three chambers of Congress, uh, rather, all three chambers of government — the presidency, the Senate and the House — in 2020.”

Racial Matters

In a January 21, 2019 interview conducted by Ta-Nehisi Coates, Ocasio-Cortez stated that the United States should pay reparations to the non-white communities that had been impacted in a negative way by President Roosevelt’s New Deal in the 1930s. Said the congresswoman: “People think reparations is reparations for slavery, but really, economically speaking, reparations are for the damage done by the New Deal and redlining because that is where we saw a compounding of the existing inequity from the legacy of slavery, where we drew red lines around black communities. We said white communities will get home loans and they will get access to the basic bedrock of wealth in America and this will be your heirloom and we gave white America the heirloom that appreciated over time, that people still benefit from today and we did not give to African-American and Mexican communities, Puerto Rican communities.” “It’s important,” she added, “to tell the story of where we’ve been and what others are doing as well because we look at, for example, Germany, and how they’ve been able or they’re attempt to try to heal after the Holocaust. Germany paid reparations and they went through that process and they had that truth-telling process. And until America tells the truth about itself, we’re not going to heal.”

The Amazon.com Controversy

Also in February 2019, the corporate giant Amazon, in response to vociferous opposition and criticism from Ocasio-Cortez and other left-wing activists in New York City, decided to cancel its plan to build an expansive corporate campus that would have brought some 25,000 new jobs to the city. The congresswoman opposed Amazon’s intended move into New York because of: (a) the significant tax incentives that were being promised to the company; (b) the company’s longstanding efforts to prevent its employees from unionizing; and (c) the “dehumanizing conditions” under which those employees allegedly worked. Upon hearing of Amazon’s decision to back out of its New York deal, Ocasio-Cortez tweeted victory: “Anything is possible: today was the day a group of dedicated, everyday New Yorkers & their neighbors defeated Amazon’s corporate greed, its worker exploitation, and the power of the richest man in the world” — a reference to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.

In an interview soon thereafter, Ocasio-Cortez said:

“… I firmly believe that if we want to take that $3 billion dollars that we were willing to give to Amazon and invest it in our local community, we can do that. We can make those jobs. We can make 25,000 jobs. But we don’t have to give away and allow our subway system to crumble so that Amazon essentially owns a part of New York City. We can create 25,000 jobs with Mom-and-Pops; we can create 25,ooo jobs with companies that are willing to come to the table, but we should not be giving away our infrastructure, our subway system, our schools, our teachers’ salaries, our firefighters’ budgets, to a company that has not shown good faith to New Yorkers. And we can ask for more because we deserve more.”

A Daily Wire analysis subsequently noted: “What Ocasio-Cortez apparently doesn’t or won’t understand is that there is no $3 billion out there that New York could spend; it was simply $3 billion in unpaid taxes from which Amazon would have benefited by staying in New York.”

In a June 2019 appearance on ABC’s “This Week,” Ocasio-Cortez speculated that Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos might lose his status as a billionaire under a “true progressive program,” saying: “[Bezos] being a billionaire is predicated on paying people starvation wages and stripping them of their ability to access health care.” In response, Amazon tweeted that all of its employees — even those in entry-level positions — were paid at least $15 per hour plus “top-tier benefits.”

Condemning America

In a February 28, 2019 tweet, Ocasio-Cortez lamented “our nation’s history of slavery, Jim Crow, & mass incarceration”; its “targeting of indigenous peoples”; and its “classist, punitive agenda targeting working families.”

Possible Election-Law Violations

On March 6, 2019, the Daily Caller reported that according to corporate filings which it had obtained, Ocasio-Cortez and her top aide, Saikat Chakrabarti, had held “majority control over Justice Democrats,” a political action committee whose support was crucial to Ocasio-Cortez’s election victory in 2018, “ever since December 2017.” The article added: “Chakrabarti resigned from the Justice Democrats’ board in August 2018 … and the PAC’s website no longer lists Ocasio-Cortez as a governor, but government documents show the two still hold majority control…. Ocasio-Cortez never disclosed her control of the PAC to the FEC. If the congresswoman intentionally withheld that information from the FEC, both she and Chakrabarti ‘could be facing jail time,’ former FEC Commissioner Brad Smith told the [Daily Caller News Foundation, or DNCF].” Added the Daily Caller:

“Former FEC commissioners told the DCNF that if Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign was operating in affiliation with the PAC, [she] could be opened up to ‘massive reporting violations’…. Experts say it could be a felony if Ocasio-Cortez and her chief of staff knowingly and intentionally withheld this information [regarding their control over Justice Democrats] to skirt campaign contribution limits. PACs and campaigns must share a contribution limit when being controlled by the same person or group of persons.”

Though attorneys for Ocasio-Cortez said that she had been taken off of JD’s board in June 2018, she continued to be listed an “entity governor” of the organization through March 14, 2015. On March 15, JD quietly removed Ocasio-Cortez and Saikat Chakrabarti from its list of board members.

Abortion

In response to recently enacted laws restricting abortion access in several states, Ocasio-Cortez tweeted in May 2019:

  • “To the GOP extremists trying to invoke ‘the unborn’ to jail people for abortion: Where are you on climate change? OH right, you want to burn fossil fuels til there’s hell on Earth. If they were truthful about their motives, they’d be consistent in their principles. They’re not.”
  • “What angers me about the GOP’s attempts to turn the United States into a far-right Christian theocracy is how dishonest they are about it. At least be forthright about your desire to subvert and dismantle our democracy into a creepy theological order led by a mad king.”
  • “The GOP doesn’t care about babies at all – especially brown, black, or poor ones. If they did, they’d: – cosponsor the Green New Deal or at LEAST have a real climate plan – guarantee healthcare so ALL can get prenatal care – not stand for the death+caging of babies on our border”

In another tweet later that same month, Ocasio-Cortez suggested that recently passed state laws limiting abortion access were part of a larger conspiracy by religious people to ban sex: “Abortion bans aren’t just about controlling women’s bodies. They’re about controlling women’s sexuality. Owning women. From limiting birth control to banning comprehensive sex ed, US religious fundamentalists are working hard to outlaw sex that falls outside their theology.” In a separate tweet, the congresswoman characterized abortion bans as “a brutal form of oppression.”

Opposition to Citizenship Question on National Census

In a June 2019 House of Representatives hearing, Ocasio-Cortez stated that the proposal to include a question about citizenship status in the U.S. Census would be, if implemented, every bit as unjust as the 1857 Dred Scott Supreme Court decision, which held that black slaves could not petition for their freedom, or the 1944 Korematsu decision that justified the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II. She said:

“Unspeakable horrors have been executed by the United States in the name of citizenship. In the name of determining who is a citizen. And, by citizen, we mean who is a person in our democracy. That is what citizenship means. It is an acknowledgment of personhood, in American democracy, an acknowledgment of power.

“And, when I think about the Supreme Court decision, with this, I think about Dred Scott. I think about Korematsu versus the United States, where the Supreme Court upheld Japanese internment regardless of the citizenship status of Japanese-Americans.

“And, how did that start? It started with the United States Census. It started with the United States Census. We have laws on the books, saying that information from the census cannot be used in any other way, that it must be confidential. And what happened? When the federal government, the executive branch, the president of the United States – I don’t care if he was a Democrat; I don’t care if he was a Republican, it was wrong.”

“And what he did, he asked for information, and the Census Bureau broke the law, and divulged information on zip codes where Japanese-Americans were concentrated. And that information was used to intern (sic) American citizens and non-American citizens alike, and the Supreme Court upheld that. Dred Scott, a black man suing for his freedom, came right before the United States Supreme Court, and what they said was that the U.S. Constitution did not give African-Americans citizenship.” …

“They have gotten it wrong. The Supreme Court has gotten it wrong. And unspeakable violations of human rights and civil liberties have been executed by the United States government in that, in light of that. And I can tell you, with this Supreme Court argument, they could very well get it wrong again.”

Refusing to Condemn Antifa

After an activist affiliated with the communist/anarchist Antifa movement attempted to carry out a terror attack against an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facility in Tacoma, Washington on July 13, 2019, a reporter from Rebel Media repeatedly asked Ocasio-Cortez, who had often characterized ICE’s treatment of migrants as brutal, if she planned to condemn the incident, and whether she felt any personal responsibility for it. The congresswoman mostly ignored the questions and tried to walk away, though a couple of times she said that she would be “making a statement” on that matter at some point. (See video.)

White Supremacy

In a series of tweets which she posted in the wake of an August 2019 mass shooting by a white supremacist in El Paso, Texas, Ocasio-Cortez wrote:

  • “Supremacists are those who have been completely overcome by the disease, but supremacy—the virus—exists on a larger scale beyond just the infected. It also lays dormant.”
  • “White supremacy is often subconscious and clearly, our nation has not been inoculated. WS is our nation’s original sin; the driving logic of slavery, of Native genocide, of Jim Crow, of segregation, of mass incarceration, of ‘Send Her Back’ [a reference to chant which Trump supporters had recently used in reference to Rep. Ilhan Omar, a native of Somalia]. It never went away. It was just dormant.”
  • “We wish it was as simple as denouncing a white hood, a burnt cross, vile language. But we need to address where supremacy *begins,* not just where it ends.”
  • “Recognizing white supremacy in ourselves—our institutions, our subconscious, our own past remarks or acts (no matter how consciously unintentional), is what makes the healing work ahead challenging.”
  • “It is incredibly important that we recognize that perfectly normal, good people are capable of aiding racism & white supremacy. Recognizing that is not about pillorying people. It’s about learning to recognize *the virus* & end an oppressive system designed to hurt us *all.*”

Ocasio-Cortez’s Chief of Staff Departs

On August 2, 2019, Ocasio-Cortez’s chief of staff, Saikat Chakrabarti, left the congresswoman’s D.C. office in order to take a job with an outside group focused on pushing the Green New Deal. Also departing from Ocasio-Cortez’s D.C. office was her communications director Corbin Trent, who announced that he would head communications for the congresswoman’s 2020 re-election campaign.

Opposition to the Electoral College

In an August 2019 Instagram video, Ocasio-Cortez characterized the U.S. Electoral College as “a scam” that negatively affects minorities. “We’re coming to you live from the Electoral College,” the congresswoman said sarcastically in a video that showed her driving along a sparsely populated desert highway. “Many votes here, as you can see. Very efficient way to choose leadership of the country. I mean I can’t think of any other way, can you?” “Due to severe racial disparities in certain states, the Electoral College effectively weighs white voters over voters of color, as opposed to a ‘one person, one vote’ system where all our votes are counted equally,” Ocasio-Cortez continued. “Could you imagine if we had this kind of democracy-altering ‘fairness’ provision for literally any other group? If we weighed, for example, black and indigenous voters more because of unfairness?… Facts are facts, America. The Electoral College has to go.”

In a series of tweets that she posted a few days later, Ocasio-Cortez elaborated on her opposition to the Electoral College:

I see Fox News is big mad about abolishing the electoral college. So let’s talk about it.

1) If the GOP were the “silent majority” they claim, they wouldn’t be so scared of a popular vote. They *know* they aren’t the majority. They rely on establishing minority rule for power.

2) This common claim about “if we don’t have the Electoral College then a handful of states will determine the presidency” is BS.

a. It’s the *EC itself* that breaks down power by state, pop vote decentralizes it

b. The EC makes it so a handful of states DO determine elections

3) LASTLY, this concept that the Electoral College is provides “fairness” to rural Americans over coastal states doesn’t hold any water whatsoever. First of all, virtually every state has rural communities. NY. California. Much of our states are rural. But very importantly…

4) We do not give electoral affirmative action to any other group in America. Do Black Americans have their votes count more bc they have been disenfranchised for 100s of years? Do Reservations get an electoral vote? Does Puerto Rico and US territories get them? No. They don’t.

5) The Electoral College isn’t about fairness at all; it’s about empowering some voters over others. Every vote should be = in America, no matter who you are or where you come from. The right thing to do is establish a Popular Vote. & GOP will do everything they can to fight it.

Further Reading

Background / Congressional Campaign & Election of 2018: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Under Fire For Lying About Her Wealthy Background” (Inquisitr.com, 7-1-2018); “Who is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez? Five Things You Need to Know …” (Fox News, 6-27-2018); “A Primary Against the Machine” (TheIntercept.com, 5-22-2018); “Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: A 28-Year-Old Democratic Giant Slayer” (NY Times, 6-27-2018); “Meet Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (Chicago Tribune, 6-27-2018); “Democratic Heavyweight [Joe Crowley] Loses in New York as Trump Picks Win” (Associated Press, 6-27-2018); “Ocasio-Cortez’s Wealthy Chief Of Staff Avoids Disclosing His Finances” (Daily Caller, 6-18-2019); Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Says She’s Going to ‘Run Train on the Progressive Agenda’” (Mediaite.com, 1-16-2019).

Stance on Israel:Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Struggles to Explain ‘Occupation of Palestine’ Stance” (Washington Times story on PBS interview, 7-16-2018); “Far-Left Democrats … Are Normalizing Anti-Semitism In Democratic Party” (Daily Wire, 2-4-2019, re: Democracy Now! interview and Robert Akleh); “Ocasio-Cortez Praises Notorious Anti-Semitic British Political Leader [Jeremy Corbin]” (Daily Wire, 2-3-2019); “Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Agrees With Claim That There Are ‘White Supremacist Jews’” (Algemeiner.com, 7-31-2019).

Ties to Radical Islamists: “Far-Left Democrats … Are Normalizing Anti-Semitism In Democratic Party” (Daily Wire, 2-4-2019).

Views on Socialism, Capitalism, & Economics: Who is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez? Five Things You Need to Know …” (Fox News, 6-27-2018, re: Vogue interview); “7 Staggering Quotes Made by Progressive Democrats’ New Star” (The Daily Signal, 11-6-2018, re: Pod Save America interview); “Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: A System That Allows Billionaires to Exist Alongside Extreme Poverty Is Immoral” (CNBC, 1-22-2019); “Ocasio-Cortez Calls Capitalism an ‘Irredeemable’ System” (FoxBusiness.com, 3-11-2019, re: Intercept interview); “AOC Imagines a World Where Everyone Lives in ‘Luxury’ Public Housing as a ‘Human Right’” (PJ Media, 6-4-2019).

Health Care: 7 Staggering Quotes Made by Progressive Democrats’ New Star” (The Daily Signal, 11-6-2018).

Environmentalism: “7 Staggering Quotes Made by Progressive Democrats’ New Star” (The Daily Signal, 11-6-2018, re: Nazi Germany comparison); “‘There’s No Debate’ That Fossil Fuel Production Should Stop” (Fox News, 10-12-2018); The ‘Green New Deal’ Started with Six College Grads. Now, They’re Recruiting an Army of Young People.” (PRI.org, 1-14-2019, re: “moonshot”); Transcript of Anderson Cooper’s Interview with Ocasio-Cortez (CBSNews.com, 1-6-2019); Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to Democrat Establishment: ‘We’re in Charge’” (Breitbart.com, 2-23-2019); “‘I’m the Boss!’: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Lashes out at Critics of Socialist Green New Deal” (TheBlaze.com, 2-24-2019); “Ocasio-Cortez: People Maybe Shouldn’t Reproduce Due To Climate Change” (Daily Wire, 2-25-2019); “Gas-Guzzling Car Rides Expose AOC’s Hypocrisy Amid Green New Deal Pledge” (NY Post, 3-2-2019); “Ocasio-Cortez Claims Climate Change Is Driving Migrant Crisis” (Fox News, 4-10-2019); “Ocasio-Cortez: I Was Joking About The World Ending In 12 Years, And You’re An Idiot If You Believed Me” (Daily Wire, 5-13-2019); “Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Joins the War on Cauliflower” (National Review, 5-23-2019); “Ocasio-Cortez Warns That Melting Glaciers Could Release Ancient Diseases” (Fox News, 8-28-2019).

Immigration & Refugee Policy: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Compares Migrant Caravan to Jews Fleeing Holocaust” (Daily Caller, 11-25-2018); “Ocasio-Cortez Calls to Abolish ICE, Says Latinos Must Be Exempt from Immigration Laws …” (Fox News, 2-8-2019); “Ocasio-Cortez Raises Eyebrows after Comparing Trump’s Border Wall to Berlin Wall” (Fox News, 2-19-2019); “Ocasio-Cortez: U.S. ‘Running Concentration Camps’ on Southern Border; Trump a ‘Fascist’ President” (Washington Times, 6-18-2019); “Ocasio-Cortez Says U.S. Should Be Ashamed of WWII ‘Concentration Camps’ – Gets Reminded Her Hero [FDR] Built Them” (Pluralist.com, 6-19-2019); “Ocasio-Cortez Says Republicans Running ‘Torture Project’ Along US-Mexico Border” (Hannity.com, 6-27-2019).

Comments About Donald Trump: The ‘Green New Deal’ Started with Six College Grads. Now, They’re Recruiting an Army of Young People.” (PRI.org, 1-14-2019); “Ocasio-Cortez Supports Cardi B Calling Trump Supporters ‘F*cking Racist Rednecks’” (Breitbart.com, 1-18-2019).

Ignorance About Government: “Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Flubs Basic Government 101 Facts” (Daily Caller, 11-19-2018).

Racial Matters: “Ocasio-Cortez Compares America’s Past to Nazi Germany, Says U.S. Should Pay Reparations Like They Did” (Daily Caller, 1-22-2019).

The Amazon.com Controversy: “Ocasio-Cortez Displays Her Economics Genius Once Again” (Daily Wire, 2-15-2019); “Amazon Invites Ocasio-Cortez to ‘See for Yourself’ after She Slams ‘Dehumanizing’ Working Conditions” (Fox News, 2-16-2019); “Amazon Slams AOC for Saying It Pays ‘Starvation Wages’” (NY Post, 6-17-2019).

Possible Election-Law Violations: “Ocasio-Cortez and Top Aide Run Outside Group Leading ‘War’ on Establishment Democrats, Documents Show” (Daily Caller, 3-6-2019); “Media Ignores, Mishandles Allegations of Campaign Finance Violations by Ocasio-Cortez” (Daily Caller, 3-7-2019).

Abortion: “Rep. Ocasio-Cortez: Pro-Life Republicans Want to Create ‘Hell on Earth’” (CNS News, 5-17-2019); “Ocasio-Cortez: Abortion Ban Is about Fundamentalists Trying to ‘Outlaw Sex’” (Daily Caller, 5-16-2019).

Opposition to Citizenship Question on National Census:Rep. Ocasio-Cortez: ‘Unspeakable Horrors Have Been Executed by the U.S. in the Name of Citizenship’” (CNS News, 6-13-2019).

Refusing to Condemn Antifa: “Ocasio-Cortez Pressed About Terror Attack On ICE Facility. Here’s Her Response.” (Daily Wire, 7-15-2019).

White Supremacy:Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Says White Supremacy Is Like a Virus …” (Newsweek, 8-8-2019).

Opposition to Electoral College:Ocasio-Cortez: The Electoral College Is a ‘Scam’” (National Review, 8-20-2019); “Ocasio-Cortez: Electoral College is ‘Affirmative Action’ for Rural Americans” (by Aaron Lee, 8-24-2019).


Additional Resources

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