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  • Ocasio-Cortez told Vogue magazine that socialism, to her, means "democratic participation in our economic dignity, and our economic, social and racial dignity."

    Ocasio-Cortez told Vogue magazine that socialism, to her, means "democratic participation in our economic dignity, and our economic, social and racial dignity." | Photo: Reuters

Published 27 June 2018

Ocasio-Cortez's grassroots campaign struck a chord with her voting base, New York's 14th District which is nearly 50 percent Hispanic or Latino. 

"I cannot put this into words," proclaimed Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, wide-eyed and dumb-founded. "I cannot believe these numbers right now, but I do know that every single person here has worked their butt off to change the future of the Bronx and Queens."  

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Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the 28-year-old former Bernie Sanders volunteer and member of the Democratic Socialists of America, scored 57.5 percent against 10-term Rep. Joe Crowley's 42.5 percent, in a race for a district of New York City that included parts of Queens and the Bronx. 

The second generation Puerto Rican took to Twitter in the midst of her campaign to slam the Israeli army, IDF, over the recent killings of innocent Palestinians on the Gaza border. 

"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 anymore," said Ocasio-Cortez in May at the height of the activities of the Palestinian Great March of Return. 

She also told the journalist, Glenn Greenwald, that her affinity to the Palestinian cause stems from her Puerto Rican roots. “Puerto Rico is a colony that is granted no rights, that has no civic representation,” she said, according to Haaretz. “If 60 of us were shot in protest of the U.S. negligence in FEMA I couldn’t imagine if there were silence on that.” 

Increasingly, she added, "People are separating the actions and status of Palestinians from even the greater geopolitics of the area. People are looking at Palestinians through a humanitarian lens."

She has also drawn a comparison between the Palestinian resistance and the civil rights activism in the United States.  

South Bronx native garnered overwhelming support for her grassroots campaign where she focused on the issues plaguing the immigrant, working-class communities of color which struck a chord with the voters. She even visited the Mexico border on the eve of the election to emphasize her call to abolish ICE.   

"This is the start of a movement," she tweeted.  

With 98 percent of the votes counted, Ocasio-Cortez, a former Bernie Sanders volunteer and member of the Democratic Socialists of America, took 57.5 percent and Crowley had 42.5 percent, in a race for a district of New York City that included parts of Queens and the Bronx. 

Ocasio-Cortez's grassroots campaign struck a chord with her voting base, New York's 14th District which is nearly 50 percent Hispanic or Latino.

Ocasio-Cortez maintained distance from the corporate donations and relied on small independent donors for her modest, grassroots campaign. 

“Our campaign was focused on a message of economic, social and racial dignity for working-class Americans, especially those in Queens and the Bronx,” Ocasio-Cortez told MSNBC’s Morning Joe show on Wednesday morning. 

Ocasio-Cortez who was working at a Manhattan cocktail bar this time last year defeated Crowley, widely considered to be Nancy Pelosi’s likely successor as House speaker if she stepped down, by pointing out that he was out of touch with the working class realities of the increasingly diverse district.  

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's historic win is being hailed as a major victory for progressives in the United States.  

A staunch believer of socialism, Ocasio-Cortez told Vogue magazine that socialism, to her, means "democratic participation in our economic dignity, and our economic, social and racial dignity."

"To me, what socialism means is to guarantee a basic level of dignity. It’s asserting the value of saying that the America we want and 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," she stated. 

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Progressives like Bernie Sanders believe that Ocasio-Cortez's win could usher a new era for the leftist movement in the country. Sanders congratulated Ocasio-Cortez on her “extraordinary upset” in a tweet.

"She took on the entire local Democratic establishment in her district and won a very strong victory,” the independent from Vermont said. "She demonstrated once again what progressive grassroots politics can do." 

"2018 is a remarkable opportunity not just to swing certain red districts blue, but to bring much more clarity to the Democratic Party, change the guard and champion the messages working-class Americans have been waiting for," Ocasio-Cortez, the first female candidate to run from New York's 14th district told the Newsweek. 

Some of the highlights of her campaign include criminal justice reform by ending private prisons, Medicare for all, tuition-free public colleges, greater gun control, and “housing as a human right.”

Ocasio-Cortez also endorsed the DREAM Act of 2017 and talks of abolishing the U.S. immigration body, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, ICE,  to pave a "clear path to citizenship, and protecting the rights of families to remain together."

"Any American who’s concerned with due process should be concerned with ICE," Ocasio-Cortez said, according to the Newsweek. "Calling to abolish ICE is less radical than the establishment of ICE in the first place."

Housed within the Department of Homeland Security, ICE comprises of nearly 20,000 employees and receives an annual funding of about US$6 billion. In February 2018, in order to expand the agency's operations targeting the undocumented immigrants, the Trump administration sought nearly US$8 billion for the agency.

Other progressive candidates who won the gubernatorial primaries include 2016 Bernie Sanders ally and former NAACP head Ben Jealous who won in Maryland and Rep. Jared Polis in Colorado.  

The 28-year-old Congresswoman has also laid emphasis on ridding Puerto Rico of its debt through her campaign.

"Cancellation of Puerto Rico’s Wall Street debt: this debt has been accrued by vulture funds using irresponsible and unjust behavior reminiscent of the 2008 financial crisis," her campaign statement read. 

"A Marshall Plan for Puerto Rico, helping the island not only recover from Hurricane Maria, but thrive with modern infrastructure and renewable energy systems. An immediate waiver and full review of the Jones Act, which hamstrings the Puerto Rican economy with restrictions that other American communities do not have to face." 


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