JFAC was one among many groups invited to share their concerns with and ask questions of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC). This meeting was part of an ambition by AOC and Senator Saunders to bring groups from across Queens together to coordinate and implement a progressive, grassroots agenda for our neighbors and borough. This was only the first of many meetings to come, and was a an amazing opportunity for JFAC to meet other groups and interface with public officials to fight for a better Queens and NYC!
WHO IS AOC?
Alexandria is a 29-year-old Bronx native vying to be Congresswoman in NY’s 14th Congressional District (including north central Queens and eastern Bronx*). Her mother immigrated from Puerto Rico; her father was born and raised in the South Bronx. Her platform is closely tied to her working class background and seems rooted in the phrase – “We should all have bread before anyone has cake.” She is pushing for medicare for all, fully-funded public schools and universities, universal jobs guarantee, housing as a human right, justice-system reform, immigration reform, a new green-deal to combat climate change, campaign-finance reform, and more.
*The Queens portion includes the neighborhoods of Astoria, College Point, East Elmhurst, Jackson Heights and Woodside. The Bronx portion of the district includes the neighborhoods of Morris Park, Parkchester, Pelham Bay, and Throgs Neck as well as City Island.
In her talk, AOC touched on a lot of issues and share many of her perspectives. Here are a few notes from the talk:
Overview of her goals and approach to being an elected:
- Representing as a movement, not an election; representing an intergenerational struggle. The issue is one of community health.
- Trump is important but only a symbol and symptom of a broken, corrupt system.
- This is not an economic issue, but a political one. Political corruption is the heart of the issue.
- There are 3 empty luxury homes for every homeless person in NYC.
- We should all have bread before anyone has cake.
- These are systemic failures, and we need systemic solutions if we are to secure justice for all.
- She hopes that District 14 can be a “moral compass” for the country. A District that people turn to when they’re asking “What does progressive policy look like?”
- We can’t be afraid of what they might call us. They’re going to call us that anyway. They’re going to try to make the case that our position and direction is bad for the country. “Bring it on!”
- Republicans are ruthless. We need to be “Red hot!”
On Broken Political System
- Climate Change too is a bipartisan problem. Real estate too. Meaning that we have deniers and people who misrepresent the issue who are Republicans and Democrats. In other words, voting Democrats in, or blaming Republicans has not and will not solve these issues.
- We need to move towards a society based not on maximum profit, but on maximum people’s well-being.
On the role of community organizing:
- Elections are tools – not ends. They are means to larger goals – like social movements.
- We need milestones and tools for holding officials accountable.
- We need continued organizing on the ground.
- We need to revitalize the mass movements of the 20th
- I can only push as hard as the community pushes. She’s focused on building a good relationship between her, the elected, and us, the community.
- This is an important effort considering that Wall St is working to elect members to financial boards to use public money to turn profit.
- We need to counteract this together.
- We need to champion our neighbors causes in Radical Solidarity!
- Public housing has a long history of underfunding. Public systems overall have seen this kind of underfunding. She is a strong advocate for NYCHA, and thinking about how affordable housing is conceptualized anyway.
- Anti-immigration is anti-American
- Census 2020 – there is a push to add a question about whether you are documented or not. Everyone should leave this black, in solidarity with those who may have to leave it blank or identify themselves as undocumented.