If you have not heard about Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, you will very soon. She is the Democratic congressional candidate from the 14th Congressional District that includes eastern Bronx and Queens and an advocate for progressive ideals. She is also a proud Latina from the Bronx whose candidacy has been getting a lot of national attention for a very good reason: she listens to the people. “We need to need to uplift our people here,” she said, “by increasing Bronx voter turnout will increase how much they [federal government] will pay attention.”
When Ocasio decided to run for congress, she wanted to know more about non-voting New Yorkers who had the right to vote. She was concerned with why they felt left out and how she could be the candidate to change that. She sought these people out in her district and started knocking on doors to hear them out. This gave people who have completely given up on politics an opportunity to speak about what was really on their minds.
This fall Ocasio-Cortez, a newcomer to politics, defeated Joseph Crowley in the Democratic primary to represent district 14. He has served the district since 2013 without anyone running against him. His defeat turned her into an overnight sensation. It was one of the most surprising voter turnouts and political upsets for Republicans.
Since the primary race, working with citizens has been an ongoing effort for Ocasio and I was lucky to witness it. The opportunity came during a Listening Tour Town Hall event in the Throgs Neck section of the Bronx. It was held at a nondenominational church in the community. Each attendee had the chance to write down a question they could ask Ocasio. All of the seats were filled as they waited for her to arrive.
As soon as she made her entrance, she briefly introduced herself, laid out how the evening would go, and immediately gave the floor to the people. “It’s important that we listen before we talk,” she said to the crowd, “learning where everyone is and meeting them there.”
Ocasio listened attentively and asked the room to applaud each time a neighbor asked a question. The sense of community could be felt with each round of applause. She has hosted a number of Listening Tour events, which she rightfully called the “seed of organizing.” Every person who stood at the microphone represented a different aspect of modern American values as the question topics covered hot topics that have been trending across the nation.
When Ocasio was asked about how she would encourage constituents to get involved in politics, she said, “There is no left or right, there is only a top and a bottom. We need to recognize our abilities right on our own block.”
Another neighbor asked Ocasio how felt about the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (I.C.E.) agency and recent events of deportation in the news, she said, “I.C.E. puts Americans in danger, ideally we want to create a world where deportation isn’t necessary.”
After, Ocasio was asked about being a Democratic socialist, she answered, “They want to give you something to be afraid of. You have to accept what they call you and go back to the common issues. To the opposition is a radical revolution, but it’s putting government back in the hands of the people.”
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (Dem. candidate for NY-14) and Alyssa Perez (Editor of StayBlooming.com)
Ocasio was personable and candid, replying to all of the questions with ease. Before running for Congress, she was “a waitress with no healthcare.” Some have attributed her success to her one-on-one interactions with everyday people. She has made herself available on-foot, on social media, at rallies, at marches, and at events all over New York City.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has been on foot, knocking from door-to-door, and listening to her neighbors. Now they are following her as she paves her way to success.
Make a note to vote on November 6th!