MetroFocus: September 23, 2021

“THE AOC GENERATION”: THE TAX THE RICH DRESS IS MORE THAN A FASHION STATEMENT. IT’S “HOW MILLENNIALS ARE SEIZING POWER AND REWRITING THE RULES OF AMERICAN POLITICS”

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, aka “AOC,” is the youngest woman ever to be elected to Congress. She is the most visible representative of a resurgent, largely young and very passionate, progressive movement. And she’s arguably the most famous politician in the country after the President. But who is she? Who are the people who catapulted her from an unlikely victory into cultural stardom? How did they do it and why? Tonight David Freedlander, contributor to Politico and New York Magazine, and the author of “The AOC Generation: How Millennials Are Seizing Power And Rewriting The Rules Of American Politics” reveals all.

TRANSCRIPT

> THIS IS 'METROFOCUS' WITH RAFAEL PI ROMAN, JACK FORD AND JENNA FLANAGAN.

'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III, SYLVIA A. AND SIMON B. POYTA PROGRAMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT ANTI-SEMITISM, THE PETER G. PETERSON AND JOAN GANZ COONEY FUND, BERNARD AND DENISE SCHWARTZ, BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG, THE AMBROSE MONELL FOUNDATION.

AND BY -- JANET PRINDLE SEIDLER, JODY AND JOHN ARNHOLD, CHERYL AND PHILIP MILSTEIN FAMILY, JUDY AND JOSH WESTON, DR. ROBERT C. AND TINA SOHN FOUNDATION.

> GOOD EVENING AND WELCOME TO 'METROFOCUS,' I'M RAFAEL BYPI ROMAN.

IN 2018, JOSEPH CROWLEY, ONE OF THE TOP DEMOCRATS IN CONGRESS AND ONE OF THE MOST POWERFUL ELECTED OFFICIALS IN NEW YORK CITY WAS DEFEATED IN HIS RE-ELECTION BID IN NEW YORK'S 14th CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT BY AN UNKNOWN 29-YEAR-OLD BARTENDER, ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ.

OCASIO-CORTEZ, WHO WENT ON TO BECOME THE YOUNGEST WOMAN EVER TO SERVE IN CONGRESS, IS NOW AOC, ARGUABLY THE MOST FAMOUS POLITICIAN IN THE COUNTRY AFTER THE PRESIDENT.

AND THE MOST VISIBLE REPRESENTATIVE OF A RESURGENT LARGELY YOUNG AND VERY PASSIONATE PROGRESSIVE MOVEMENT.

BUT WHO EXACTLY IS ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ?

WHAT WERE THE FORCES AND WHO WERE THE PEOPLE THAT MADE HER UNLIKELY VICTORY AND CONSEQUENT POLITICAL AND CULTURAL STARDOM POSSIBLE?

AND WHERE DOES AOC AND THE AOC GENERATION GO FROM HERE?

JOINING US NOW TO ANSWER THESE AND OTHER QUESTIONS IS DAVID FREEDLANDER, A CONTRIBUTOR TO POLITICO AND 'NEW YORK MAGAZINE' AND THE AUTHOR OF 'THE AOC GENERATION: HOW MIN LEN Y'ALLS ARE SEIZING POWER AND REWRITING THE RULES OF POLITICS.'

DAVID, THANK YOU FOR BEING HERE.

GOOD TO BE HERE.

DAVID, FIRST OF ALL, I WONDER IF YOU CAN GIVE US A QUICK EXPLANATION OF WHAT YOU MEAN BY THE AOC GENERATION WHO IS THE AOC GENERATION?

IT'S A GREAT QUESTION.

AND I THINK WHEN YOU SORT OF TALK ABOUT GENERATIONS, IT CAN ALWAYS BE A LITTLE MUDDLED, RIGHT, AND SORT OF NOT NECESSARILY A RIGOROUS WAY OF KIND OF DESCRIBING SOCIAL PHENOMENON.

AND I THINK WHAT I MEAN BY IT IS, IT'S NOT JUST LIKE THE PEOPLE WHO WERE BORN IN 1990 OR WHATEVER, BUT IT'S REALLY FOLKS WHO WERE SORT OF COMING INTO POLITICS, COMING INTO THE ELECTORATE AT AROUND THE SAME TIME OCASIO-CORTEZ WAS, SORT OF IN THE ERA BETWEEN, YOU KNOW, OCCUPY WALL STREET IN 2011 AND THE DONALD TRUMP ERA THAT WAS SORT OF 2016 TO 2020 AND HOW THEY SORT OF PUT DEMANDS ON THE POLITICAL SYSTEM, BECOMING VERY INVOLVED, VERY ENGAGED AND KIND OF WRESTLING WITH SOME OF THE WISDOM THAT A LOT OF FOLKS KIND OF KNEW ABOUT AMERICAN POLITICS.

YOU KNOW, OCASIO-CORTEZ SORT OF ANSWERED THIS QUESTION IN A WAY HERSELF.

WHEN SHE WAS AN UNDERGRADUATE AT BOSTON UNIVERSITY, SHE WAS ASKED TO GIVE A SPEECH TO THE WHOLE CAMPUS ON MARTIN LUTHER KING DAY AND IT WAS ABOUT WHAT SORT OF MAKES A GENERATION, CAN THIS GENERATION BE GREAT AND SHE SORT OF ADDRESSED THAT QUESTION AND HE SAID, THIS IS NOT -- OUR GENERATION IS NOT JUST PEOPLE BORN BETWEEN THE AGES OF 18 AND 35, BUT THEY'RE REALLY PEOPLE WHO ARE SORT OF TRYING TO KIND OF SEIZE POWER AND BE ACTIVE IN THEIR COMMUNITIES AND IN THE POLITICAL LIFE OF THE NATION.

ALL RIGHT, WELL, THE BOOK IS NOT JUST ABOUT HER, BUT ABOUT THEM AND THE SERIES OF QUESTIONS THAT FOLLOW.

KIND OF MIXING THEM ALL UP.

SO, AOC.

WHO IS AOC REALLY?

I MEAN, SHE SOMETIMES DESCRIBES HERSELF AS A WORKING CLASS PERSON OF COLOR FROM THE BRONX, BUT AS YOU KNOW AND AS YOU WRITE, MANY OF HER CONSERVATIVE ADVERSARIES DESCRIBE HER FROM SANDY CORTEZ FROM WESTCHESTER WHOSE FATHER OWNED AN ARCHITECTURAL FIRM AND WHO GRADUATED FROM BOSTON UNIVERSITY, AS YOU MENTIONED, A PRICEY PRIVATE UNIVERSITY.

WHICH IS IT?

YEAH, IT'S INTERESTING, RIGHT?

THAT THAT'S THE KIND OF -- THAT HAS TO BE THE CRITIQUE OF SOMEONE, THAT IF YOU ARE, YOU KNOW, A WORKING CLASS PERSON OF COLOR WHO SORT OF ASCENDED THE RANKS OF AMERICAN POLITICS, YOU SOMEHOW HAVE TO HAVE THIS SECRET PRIVILEGE.

I'M A POLITICAL REPORTER.

I WOULD HAVE LOVED TO HAVE FOUND OUT THAT OCASIO-CORTEZ WAS FAKING PARTS OF HER -- AND I DID NOT FIND THAT AND I SEARCHED.

HER FATHER WAS AN ARCHITECT.

HE WENT TO BROOKLYN TECH, YOU KNOW, HERE IN NEW YORK CITY, TOOK THE SUBWAY FROM THE BRONX, MARRIED A WOMAN FROM PUERTO RICO, THEY LIVED IN A LARGE PUBLIC HOUSING MIDDLE CLASS HOUSING COMPLEX IN THE BRONX, WHERE HE WAS THE KIND OF RESIDENT ARCHITECT OF THAT, SO, DOING INTERIOR AND SMALL JOBS AND THAT KIND OF THING.

GOT CONTRACTS FROM THE CITY.

THEY ENDED UP MOVING TO WESTCHESTER AND, YOU KNOW, WESTCHESTER, OF COURSE, WE OFTEN GIVE IT THIS SUBURB OF NEW YORK AND IT CURRENTLY IS, I THINK HER TOWN WAS NOT REALLY ONE OF THOSE PLACES AND SHE WAS FROM THE OTHER SIDE OF THE TRACKS ON THAT TOWN, LIVING IN A VERY MODEST HOUSE IN THIS SMALL TOWN IN WESTCHESTER.

AND GOT SOME SCHOLARSHIP MONEY TO GO TO THIS FAIRLY ELITE PRIVATE UNIVERSITY, BOSTON UNIVERSITY AND, YOU KNOW, AND THEN KIND OF CAME BACK TO NEW YORK, REALLY TRIED TO FIND A WAY IN THE WORLD.

IT WAS THE DEPTHS OF THE RECESSION.

KIND OF A STORY THAT WE'RE FAMILIAR WITH, PEOPLE IN THEIR YOUNG 20s ARRIVING IN NEW YORK, TRYING TO SORT OF MAKE A GO OF IT AND SHE SORT OF DID VARIOUS THINGS.

SHE WORKED AT A STARTUP FOR AWHILE, BUT IT FAILED.

SHE TRIED TO START A CHILDREN'S PUBLISHING BUSINESS BUT IT FAILED.

HER FATHER HAD PASSED AWAY BY THAT POINT AND SO SHE WAS SORT OF -- HAD SOME RESPONSIBILITIES, I THINK SHE FELT LIKE, FOR HER FAMILY AND ENDED UP GETTING A JOB WAITRESSING AND BARTENDING AT THESE RESTAURANTS AROUND UNION SQUARE BEFORE KIND OF DECIDING TO GO RUN FOR CONGRESS IN A WAY THAT WAS LIKE THE FIRST, LIKE, BIG STEPPING OUT OF ADULTHOOD KIND OF THING.

LET'S TWO TO THAT.

I MEAN, WHY DID SHE DECIDE -- I WAS INTERESTED TO FIND OUT THAT SHE WASN'T REALLY FROM HIGH SCHOOL OR COLLEGE A POLITICAL ACTIVIST AND THAT POLITICS WASN'T, YOU KNOW, SHE HADN'T SET HER SIGHTS ON ELECTORAL POLITICS THROUGHOUT MOST OF HER YOUNG LIFE.

I MEAN, IT SEEMS, CORRECT ME IF I'M WRONG, THAT IF NOT FOR THE B BERNIE SANDERS 2016 PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN AND DONALD TRUMP'S 2016 PRESIDENTIAL VICTORY, THE AOC THAT WE KNOW TODAY WOULD NOT HAVE BEEN HERE.

IS THAT CORRECT?

I THINK THAT'S ABSOLUTELY CORRECT.

I MEAN, YOU KNOW, YOU HAVE THIS SORT OF ORGANIZING AND THIS MOVEMENT HAPPENING, REALLY, I MEAN, SHE DESCRIBES GOING TO VOTE FOR BARACK OBAMA, SHE ACTUALLY TOOK -- SHE INTERNED WITH TED KENNEDY IN COLLEGE AND TOOK THE BUS HOME TO NEW YORK TO GO VOTE FOR BARACK OBAMA AND LATER GOING ON THE COMPUTER AND LOOKING UP AND SEEING ALL OF THE KIND OF, LIKE, CORPORATE DONATIONS THAT HE HAD RAKED IN FROM GOLDMAN SACHS AND PLACES LIKE THAT AND KIND OF FEELING A LITTLE BIT DISGUSTED BY IT.

WHEN BERNIE SANDERS A FEW YEARS LATER DECIDED TO RUN FOR PRESIDENT.

HE WAS KIND OF TAPPING INTO THAT, I THINK, DISGUST AND DISSATISFACTION THAT MANY OF THE LEFT FELT WITH OBAMA.

OF COURSE, THAT BECAME A PHENOMENON THAT FEW REALLY IMAGINED POSSIBLE.

YOU KNOW, THERE HAVE BEEN LEFT WING CANDIDATES IN DEMOCRATIC PRIMARIES.

NO ONE EVER DID QUITE AS WELL AS BERNIE SANDERS HAD DONE.

IT WAS SORT OF THIS NATIONWIDE PHENOMENON.

AND SHE ACTUALLY WENT AND VOLUNTEERED FOR HIM AT A VERY LOW LEVEL, BUT SHE DID DO IT IN THE BRONX.

AND THAT KIND OF CREATED ALL OF THIS -- HOWEVER YOU WANT TO PUT IT, LEFT ENERGY, ESPECIALLY AMONG YOUNG PEOPLE THAT WAS SORT OF LOOKING FOR A PLACE TO GO, RIGHT?

AND THEN WHAT HAPPENED AFTER, YOU KNOW, THAT LONG DIVISIVE PRIMARY ENDS IN 2016 IS THAT DONALD TRUMP IS ELECTED.

AND IT IS SUCH A SORT OF SHOCK TO THE AMERICAN POLITICAL SYSTEM THAT WHAT BERNIE HAD SORT OF BEGUN TO CREATE WAS NOT KIND OF EVERYWHERE.

AND EVERYONE SORT OF, I THINK, FELT THAT KIND OF, LIKE, REVOLUTIONARY ENERGY THAT BERNIE HAD HELPED TO IGNITE.

SO LET'S TALK ABOUT SPECIFICALLY THE RACE WITH CROWLEY.

YOU KNOW, I -- I THINK A LOT OF OUR VIEWER, EVEN OUR VIEWERS WHO ARE VERY WELL INFORMED, MAY NOT KNOW JUST HOW POWERFUL THIS MAN WAS.

HE WAS ONE OF THE MOST POWERFUL DEMOCRATS IN THE COUNTRY, RIGHT?

HE WAS THE -- THE ASSUMED SUCCESSOR TO NANCY PELOSI AS HEAD OF THE DEMOCRATS IN THE HOUSE AND THEREFORE AS POTENTIAL SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE AND HERE IN NEW YORK CITY, BECAUSE HE WAS THE HEAD OF THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY IN QUEENS, A LOT OF THE OTHER NEW YORK CITY POLITICIANS WOULD GO TO HIM FOR HIS BLESSINGS AND HIS SUPPORT.

HE WAS AN IMPORTANT GUY.

SO, HOW DOES THIS GUY, WHO, BY THE WAY, THE DAY OF THE ELECTION, YOU KNOW, HIS INTERNAL P POLLING HAD HIM 30% ABOVE OCASIO-CORTEZ.

HOW DOES HE LOSE TO A 29-YEAR-OLD PART TIME BARTENDER?

YEAH, GREAT QUESTION.

YEAH, SO IT'S A FUNNY STORY.

I WAS GOING TO GO PROFILE HIM FOR 'NEW YORK MAGAZINE.'

WE WERE GOING TO FLY AROUND THE COUNTRY, GO TO FUND-RAISERS, BECAUSE HE WAS GOING TO BE THE NEXT SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE.

HE HAD BEEN ELECTED FOR 20 YEARS IN CONGRESS, HE WAS, YOU KNOW, OLD IRISH FAMILY, HAD NEVER REALLY FACED A PRIMARY CHALLENGER WHATSOEVER.

AND WE WERE GOING TO GO AROUND THE COUNTRY AND WE WERE GOING TO CAMPAIGN TOGETHER, I WAS GOING TO BE THERE, THE DEMOCRATS WERE GOING TO RETAKE THE MAJORITY AND HE WAS GOING TO BE THE NEXT SPEAKER, IT WAS ALL KIND OF LAID OUT.

AND IN THE PROCESS OF REPORTING OUT THAT STORY I MET OCASIO-CORTEZ.

AND YOU KNOW, SHE WAS IMMEDIATELY IMPRESSIVE IN A WAY THAT WHEN YOU FIRST MEET CANDIDATES RUNNING FOR OFFICE THE FIRST TIME, THEY KIND OF TEND TO NOT BE VERY IMPRESS ICHLT THEY TEND TO NOT KNOW WHAT THEY'RE TALKING ABOUT, THEY CANNOT ANSWER QUESTIONS.

SHE DID ALL OF THAT.

SHE WAS REALLY SHARP AND POUNCED ON THINGS.

AND WHAT ENDED UP HAPPENING, SO, OF COURSE, THEN, YOU KNOW, SHE ENDED UP BEATING HIM IN A HUGE UPSET, WHICH I REALLY THINK WAS ONE OF THE BIGGEST POLITICAL UPSETS, REALLY IN RECENT AMERICAN POLITICAL HISTORY.

I COULDN'T THINK OF ONE BIGGER.

AND PART OF THE STORY I TRY TO TELL IN THE BOOK, THE REASON THAT KIND OF CAME ABOUT WAS, YOU COULD SORT OF TRACE THE -- THE SORT OF ANGER REALLY BEGINNING WITH OCCUPY WALL STREET, BUT BERNIE SANDERS, POST-BERNIE SANDERS, THROUGH TRUMP, THERE WAS ALL THIS ACTIVISM, ALL THIS EXCITEMENT AROUND LIBERAL POLITICS AND THAT ALL OF THAT KIND OF FORMED AROUND OCASIO-CORTEZ AND SHE JUST -- I MEAN, SHE CRUSHED HIM, SHE BEAT HIM BY 18 POINTS OR SOMETHING LIKE THAT.

AND IT WAS BECAUSE NO ONE -- YOU KNOW, AS YOU MENTIONED, THE CROWLEY WAS POLLING UP BY 30 POINTS, BUT NO ONE WAS AWARE OF THIS OTHER PHENOMENON THAT WAS HAPPENING.

ALL OF THESE PEOPLE THAT WERE JUST SO ANGRY AT WHAT HAD HAPPENED IN AMERICAN POLITICS OVER THE LAST SEVERAL YEARS, WERE KIND OF COMING TOGETHER AND SHE SORT OF RODE THAT WAVE TO VICTORY.

AND WHO WERE THOSE PEOPLE IN HER DISTRICT?

YOU WRITE AT ONE POINT THAT HER SUPPORTERS CAME FROM, AND I THINK THIS IS A QUOTE, ALL RACES, ETHNIC BACKGROUNDS, EDGING CASUAL LEVELS AND SOCIAL CLASSES.

I THINK -- YOU LIVE IN HER DISTRICT, IF I'M NOT MISTAKEN.

I'VE SPOKEN TO A LOT OF PEOPLE FROM HER DISTRICT, I KNOW A LOT OF PEOPLE THERE, I USED TO LIVE CLOSE TO THAT DISTRICT, AND THEY ALL TELL ME, TO A PERSON, THAT HER FUNDAMENTAL SUPPORT, CRITICAL SUPPORT, ACTUALLY CAME FROM WHITE PROGRESSIVES WHO MOVED TO QUEENS BECAUSE THEY WERE PRICED OUT OF BROOKLYN AND MAT HAT TAN, IN OTHER WORDS, WHAT ONE CALLED THE LOW RENT PROGRESSIVE GENTRY IF IERS OF QUEENS.

IS THAT RIGHT?

OH, THAT'S 100% RIGHT.

THOSE ARE THE VOTERS -- YOU CAN SEE HOW THOSE VOTERS WOULD BE REALLY ANGRY AT THE STATUS QUO, RIGHT?

I MEAN, THESE ARE FOLKS WHO HAVE COLLEGE DEGREES, HAVE GOOD JOBS, CAN'T AFFORD TO LIVE IN TWO OF THE FIVE BUFR ROW BOROUGHS OF N CITY.

AND HAD REALLY BEEN ACTIVATED BY BERNIE SANDERS.

ALSO YOUNGER, HAVE COLLEGE DEBT, COULDN'T AFFORD TO BUY A HOUSE.

HAD SORT OF BEEN CAUGHT UP IN THE GREAT RECESSION.

FOR SURE, IT WAS A VERY MUCH A -- A PHENOMENON OF GENTRIFICATION.

I REMEMBER TALKING TO A JOE CROWLEY CAMPAIGN OPERATIVE, HIGH LEVEL OPERATIVE THE DAY AFTER THE ELECTION AND HE SAID IT QUITE WELL, THE BERNIE BROS JUST GOT TO US, WHICH IS WHAT HAPPENED.

IT WAS LIKE THE BERNIE SANDERS VOTERS WHO TENDED TO NOT SHOW UP IN MIDTERM ELECTIONS, JUST CAME OUT IN REALLY MASSIVE WAYS FOR HER.

YEAH.

THE POLICY INITIATIVE THAT AOC HAS COME TO BE MOST ASSOCIATED WITH IS THE GREEN NEW DEAL, I THINK THAT'S SAFE TO SAY.

NOW SOME, BOTH OPPONENTS AND SUPPORTERS, ARGUE THAT THE GREEN NEW DEAL IS THE AOC GENERATION'S VERSION OF -- IT'S THEIR WAY TO ACHIEVE 21st CENTURY SOCIALISM IN THIS COUNTRY.

ON THE OTHER HAND, YOU KNOW, YOU QUOTE SOMEBODY WHO BASICALLY SAYS THAT THEY SEE THE MORE P POPULAR ECONOMIC ITEMS IN THE GREEN NEW DEAL, SUCH AS THE FEDERALLY GUARANTEED EMPLOYMENT AS A TROJAN HORSE TO INTRODUCE A RADICAL CLIMATE CHANGE AGENDA THAT PEOPLE MIGHT NOT OTHERWISE SUPPORT.

WHICH OF THESE IS THE GREEN NEW DEAL, IS IT SOMETHING ELSE ALL TOGETHER?

I THINK WHAT HAPPENED IS THAT CLIMATE FOLKS HAVE ALWAYS FELT LIKE -- THAT THEY WERE ALWAYS ON THE DEFENSIVE, BECAUSE THE CHOICES, THE WAY THE ISSUE WAS ALWAYS FRAMED WAS EITHER JOBS OR CLIMATE.

OR, IF IT'S NOT JOBS OR CLIMATE, IT'S AT LEAST SORT OF SACRIFICE OR CLIMATE, RIGHT?

YOU HAVE TO RECYCLE, YOU HAVE TO NOT USE AS MUCH, YOU HAVE TO NOT RIDE ON AIRPLANES, YOU HAVE TO, LIKE, DO ALL THESE THINGS THAT ARE DIFFICULT FOR PEOPLE IN THEIR LIVES TO DO AND, IN FACT, YOU SORT OF CAN TELL VERY FEW PEOPLE ACTUALLY VERY REALLY DO THAT.

I DON'T KNOW THAT ANYONE THAT DOESN'T TAKE A COMMERCIAL AIRPLANE TRIP BECAUSE THEY'RE WORRIED ABOUT THE ENVIRONMENT.

SO, ASKING, LIKE, THE KIND OF, GOVERNMENT TO MANDATE THAT KIND OF BEHAVIOR IS REALLY HARD.

AND I THINK THAT WHAT THE PEOPLE BEHIND THE GREEN NEW DEAL CAME UP WITH IS, WHAT IF WE KIND OF MADE IT SO IT WASN'T SORT OF, YOU KNOW, CLIMATE MINUS, BUT IT WAS CLIMATE PLUS.

YOU HAVE CLIMATE PLUS YOU GOT JOBS, YOU GOT CLIMATE PLUS YOU GOT EQUALITY, YOU GOT CLIMATE PLUS YOU GOT ALL THESE OTHER THINGS.

IT WAS SORT OF THE GENIUS OF THEIR IDEA, WAS TO, LIKE, YOU KNOW, MAKE IT A NET BENEFIT RATHER THAN A NET LOSS.

THERE WAS SOME PROBLEMS WITH THE ROLLOUT OF THE GREEN NEW DEAL, AS YOU MAY RECALL, LIKE, A DRAFT SORT OF VERSION OF IT GOT RELEASED AND TALKED ABOUT BANNING COWS OR SOMETHING --

YEAH, BANNING AIRPLANES.

WELFARE EVEN IF THEY COULD WORK, THAT KIND OF THING, I REMEMBER.

RIGHT, RIGHT.

ALTHOUGH THE JOBS GUARANTEE IS SORT OF, LIKE, QUITE NOT THAT GREAT, IT'S FOR ABLE BODIED PEOPLE TO MAKE SURE THEY ARE WORKING.

AND, YOU KNOW, IT'S A HUGE ISSUE, I THINK, FOR, LIKE, YOUNGER VOTERS, EVEN YOUNGER THAN OCASIO-CORTEZ -- CLIMATE IS A CRISIS FOR THEM IN A WAY IT ISN'T FOR OLDER FOLKS LIKE US.

THEY ARE THE ONES THAT ARE GOING TO BE LIVING THROUGH THIS, YOU KNOW, CHANGE IN THE WEATHER THAT WE'RE DEALING WITH.

WE'RE IN NEW YORK TODAY, I MEAN, IT'S HARD TO BELIEVE THAT IT'S MID-SEPTEMBER HERE, IT FEELS TROPICAL.

AND SO IT WAS VERY IMPORTANT TO THEM AND THEY ENDED UP, OF COURSE, SITTING IN NANCY PELOSI'S OFFICE, IF YOU RECALL, YOU KNOW, CLIMATE ACTIVISTS, AND WHAT WAS REALLY EXTRAORDINARY ABOUT THAT MOMENT IS THAT OCASIO-CORTEZ JOINED THEM FOR THAT SIT-IN.

I DON'T KNOW IF SHE HAD BEEN SWORN IN YET.

NO, SHE WAS NOT SWORN IN YET.

IT'S A GUTSY MOVE.

YEAH.

SO SHE'S GOING IN THERE TO JOIN THESE, LIKE, SCRUFFY YOUNG ACTIVISTS TO SIT IN NANCY PELOSI'S OFFICE, EVEN BEFORE SHE GETS HER SORT OF, YOU KNOW, SEAT ASSIGNMENT, OFFICE ASSIGNMENT IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES.

AND I THINK IT REALLY SHOWED THE KIND OF MIND-SET THAT SHE WAS BRING WITHING TO WASHINGTON.

SURE.

NOW, COULD THE GREEN NEW DEAL HAVE ACHIEVE D THE WIDE A ACCEPTANCE THROUGH THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY IF NOT FOR OCASIO-CORTEZ'S LEADERSHIP ON THAT ISSUE?

NO, I MEAN, OF COURSE NOT.

A LOT OF TIMES I -- WHEN PEOPLE ASK ME ABOUT HER, A COMMON KNOCK ON HER AND IT'S SORT OF A FAIR ONE, IN A WAY, SHE HASN'T REALLY DONE ANYTHING, SHE HASN'T -- WHAT HER ACCOMPLISHMENTS, SHE HASN'T PASSED ANYTHING, THAT'S CERTAINLY TRUE.

SHE IS A SECOND TERM MEMBER OF CONGRESS, SHE HAS NO SIGNATURE LEGISLATION TO HER NAME, EVEN THAT SAID, I DON'T THINK THERE'S A LOT OF LEGISLATION AT ALL PASSING RIGHT NOW, AND SO WHATEVER, BUT WHAT SHE HAS IS THIS STAR POWER AND SOCIAL MEDIA SKILLS THAT REALLY KEEPS -- IT'S HARD TO SORT OF LOOK AWAY FROM.

THE GREEN NEW DEAL, ON THE ONE HAND, IT BECAME DIVISIVE AND THIS THING THAT FOX NEWS AND THE THING THE REPUBLICANS TALKED ABOUT AND THE STAND-IN FOR, YOU KNOW, THE COMMUNIST TAKEOVER OR THE UNITED STATES OR SOMETHING, BUT SOME EXTRAORDINARY NUMBER OF DEMOCRATIC ELECTED OFFICIALS RALLIED TO THE BANNER THAT W WAS -- THAT WAS FOISTED BY THIS, YOU KNOW, FIRST TERM CONGRESSWOMAN.

I MEAN, I THINK SOMETHING LIKE 22 OUT OF 23 DEMOCRATS RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT ENDORSED IT, YOU KNOW, HALF THE SENATE, HALF THE HOUSE, I MEAN, AND I THINK THAT'S ALL JUST THE KIND OF TAP INTO WHAT SHE HAD ALREADY STARTED.

NOW, YOU DON'T WRITE ABOUT THIS IN THE BOOK, BUT I WONDER IF YOU KNOW WHAT AO C's TAKE IS ON THE ODD PHENOMENON, ODD FOR AT LEAST SOME OF US OF A CERTAIN AGE, OF THE SO-CALLED WOKE CORPORATIONS, WHICH INCLUDES ALL THE MEGAMONOPOLIES, UNIVERSALLY ADOPTING THE CULTURAL ASPECTS OF THE OCASIO-CORTEZ GENERATION POLITICS.

CRITICAL RACE THEORY, ET CETERA, THEY GAVE A LOT OF MONEY TO SOME OF THE MOST FROM AGGRESSIVE MOMENTS, BUT YET THEY HAVE NOT LOST ONE PENNY OF PROFIT AS A RESULT AND THEY HAVE NOT LOST ANY MEASURE OF POWER AS A RESULT.

SO, IT'S THIS ODD COMBINATION OF SEMIPROGRESSIVES AT, YOU KNOW -- WHAT DOES OCASIO-CORTEZ THINK ABOUT THAT?

I DON'T KNOW EXACTLY.

I WILL SAY, YOU KNOW, SHE DIDN'T PARTICIPATE IN THE BOOK.

I WROTE IT WITHOUT HER, WHICH MADE ME SORT OF HAVE TO GO DIGGING AND I DID FIND THESE BLOG POSTS SHE HAD WRITTEN WHEN SHE WAS IN COLLEGE ABOUT THIS VERY ISSUE AND SHE SORT OF EXPRESSED SOME KIND OF, YOU KNOW, DISGUST OR DISCOMFORT WITH THAT SORT OF, LIKE, WOKE CORPORATISM THAT YOU DESCRIBE.

I THINK THAT THERE IS -- I MEAN, THERE'S SORT OF TWO THINGS TO IT.

I THINK SHE IS VERY AWARE OF THE SORT OF -- THE ORIGINAL IMPETUS FOR PROGRESSIVISM, FOR LEFT POLITICS WAS INEQUALITY, WAS TO HELP POOR PEOPLE.

AND SO SORT OF LEVEL THE PLAYING FIELD AND TO MAKE -- NOT MAKE AN EFFORT TO KIND OF GET DISTRACTED BY THAT.

ON THE OTHER HAND, YOU KNOW, I THINK THAT SHE IS NOT A -- LIKE, SHE'S NOT A SCOLD, WHICH I THINK SOME PEOPLE ON THE LEFT CAN OCCASIONALLY BE.

YOU AND I ARE TALKING, I THINK IT WAS JUST THIS WEEK, RIGHT, THAT SHE APPEARED AT THE MET GALA IN THIS DRESS THAT SAID 'TAX THE RICH' ON IT.

AND A LOT OF PEOPLE WERE REALLY UPSET BY THAT.

EVEN A LOT OF LEFTISTS WERE REALLY UPSET BY THAT.

BUT I THINK HER THING IS, LIKE, YOU GOT TO HAVE A KIND OF A LITTLE BIT OF FUN AND YOU GET TO KIND OF LIVE IN THE WORLD AND YOU DON'T HAVE TO, LIKE, SPEND ALL YOUR EVENINGS, YOU KNOW, GOING TO SOCIALIST WORKERS MEETINGS.

NOW, YOU KNOW, PIGGY BACKING ON THAT, WHATEVER THE EXPRESSION IS, YOU KNOW, AT ONE POINT IN THE BOOK, YOU QUOTE PART OF A PHONE CONVERSATION THAT AOC HAD WITH DSA ACTIVISTS AND ORGANIZERS AND THIS IS WHAT SHE TOLD ME, EDITED BY ME TO SAVE A LITTLE BIT.

THIS MOVEMENT IS ABOUT MAKING SURE THAT WE ARE REALLY REACHING OUT AND MAKING THIS THE MOST INVITING WAY OF POLITICS THAT IS MOST INSPIRING TO MOST PEOPLE IN THIS COUNTRY.

AND THAT IS THE POSTURE WE NEED TO HAVE OR WE WILL NOT WIN.

SO, IT'S POSSIBLE TO BE BOTH REVOLUTIONARY AND ALSO CREATE AN OPEN ENOUGH POSTURE WHERE PEOPLE ALL ACROSS THE COUNTRY ARE WILLING TO BUY IN, CLOSED QUOTE.

SHE WAS TALKING TO DSA AND YOU WRITE IN THE BOOK EARLIER ABOUT THE DSA CONVENTION VIDEOS, THE 2018 DSA CONVENTION WHICH SHOW, YOU KNOW, SOME PEOPLE CONSIDERED IT, YOU KNOW, KIND OF A SPOOF OF POLITICAL CORRECTNESS, SOME PEOPLE COMPARED IT TO A MONTY PYTHON SKIT.

IT WITH WAS LITTLE -- SO, I WONDER IF SHE WAS KIND OF MILDLY TELLING THEM, LOOK, YOU KNOW, WE HAVE TO TALK LIKE REGULAR PEOPLE TALK.

IF YOU WANT TO BE INVITING TO WORKING CLASS PEOPLE, OF ALL RACES, WHO WEREN'T COLLEGE EDUCATED, WE GOT TO TALK THEIR TALK.

WAS SHE KIND OF EFED A MONNENISHING THEM IN THIS CONVERSATION?

I THINK SHE WAS.

YOU KNOW, THOSE DSA MEETINGS, ESPECIALLY BEFORE, YOU KNOW, BEFORE 2016, I MEAN, PEOPLE WHO WENT TO THEM CAN SAY THAT THEY WERE JUST INTER MINABLE.

THEY WOULD BE HAVING THESE DEBATES ABOUT THINGS THAT HAPPENED IN THE 1930s AND WHAT THE PROPER PHRASE WAS AND, YOU KNOW, SORT OF COMPARISON OF WHAT TRACKS YOU HAVE READ AND, YOU KNOW, I WAS AT THAT DSA CONVENTION IN 2018 AND IT WAS -- IT WAS MIND-NUMBING.

AND IT WASN'T JUST THAT IT WAS -- YOU'RE CONSTANTLY WORRIED THAT YOU WERE GOING TO SAY SOMETHING THAT WAS THE WRONG THING WHEN YOU'RE TALKING TO SOMEONE.

BUT WHAT STRUCK ME ABOUT IT WAS THAT THERE'S ALL OF THIS TIME SPENT ON FIGURING OUT, LIKE, WHAT THE -- WHAT THE SORT OF PROCESSES AND RULES WERE GOING TO BE AND I WAS SOMEBODY WHO HAD NEVER ATTENDED ONE OF THOSE FOR.

I THOUGHT THEY WERE FIGURING THE PROCESSES AND RULES FOR THE DSA FOR THE NEXT YEAR OR TWO.

THEY WERE FIGURING THEM OUT FOR THAT WEEKEND CONVENTION.

YOU KNOW, LIFE IS SHORT, LIKE, THERE IS WORK TO BE DONE.

AND WHAT DID WE DO?

LET'S JUST GET THROUGH THIS SO WE CAN MOVE ON WITH WHAT WE'RE HERE FOR, WHICH IS --

BUT SHE'S RIGHT, SHE SAYS, YOU KNOW, A PROGRESSIVE MOVEMENT IS NOT GOING TO BE IT ON THAT.

NO.

SHE'S GOING TO CONFEREVINCE TO MOVE AWAY FROM THAT.

WHEN SHE WAS ELECTED, PEOPLE LUMPED HER IN WITH THE DSA, AND SHE WAS BUT SORT OF WASN'T.

I CAN'T REMEMBER NOW IF SHE'S STILL ACTUALLY AN ACTIVE MEMBER.

IT'S IN THE BOOK, I JUST DON'T RECALL OFFHAND, BUT LIKE, SHE WAS GOING TO DSA MEETINGS BECAUSE, LIKE, A LOT OF YOUNG PEOPLE IN 2016 AND 2017, WERE GOING TO DSA MEETINGS.

AND THEY WERE ALL THERE.

LIKE, NONE OF THEM HAD BEEN THERE A FEW MONTHS PRIOR.

AND SO SHE WAS TRYING TO TAP INTO SOME OF THAT ENERGY BUT SHE WAS NOT EVER NECESSARILY, LIKE, A TRUE BELIEVER IN THAT PARTICULAR CAUSE OR WAY OF ORGANIZING AND I THINK SHE WAS TELLING THEM, YOU KNOW, LIKE, WE -- SHE'S DONE OTHER THINGS SINCE THEN.

I HEARD OTHER PHONE CALLS WITH HER WHEN SHE TOLD THEM, LIKE, THIS KIND OF POLITICS IS NOT GOING TO BE SUCCESSFUL IF WE ARE -- IF WE.

Reporter: ARE ALIENATING OTHER PEOPLE.

I KNOW A CATHOLIC MONSIGNOR THAT HAD A CONVERSATION WITH HER AND SHE WAS FLOORED BY HOW PERSONABLE AND HOW MUCH SHE WANTED TO OPEN UP AND ENGAGE IN A CONVERSATION ABOUT THINGS THAT SHE PROBABLY DIDN'T AGREE WITH.

SO, THAT'S SOMETHING.

FINALLY DAVID, WE HAVE LESS THAN TWO MINUTES, YOU WRITE THAT AOC BUSTED OUT OF THE BOUNDS OF BEING MERELY A POLITICAL FIGURE TO BEING A CULTURAL ONE, THAT'S INDISPUTABLE.

I MEAN, I WOULD SAY THAT SHE IS IN THE CATEGORY OF THE TRANSFORMATION LIKE THE BEATLES, LIKE ELVIS, LIKE BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN.

IT WAS THAT DRAMATIC, THAT TRANSFORMATION.

DO YOU KNOW HOW THAT HAS EFFECTED HER PERSONALLY?

HOW HAS SHE BEEN ABLE TO KEEP GROUNDED AND BALANCED?

WHAT YOU SAY IS REALLY TRUE.

I MEAN, WHEN I -- SHE WAS ELECTED, I WAS IN A SURF SHOP IN COASTAL NORTH CAROLINA AND THERE WERE STICKERS OF HER, YOU KNOW?

MY -- SHE BECAME A SUPERSTAR OVERNIGHT.

I THINK IT'S REALLY HARD, I MEAN, I THINK THAT IS A KIND OF, LIKE, WHAT THIS CULTURE DOES TO PEOPLE IN A WAY, IT'S ALMOST INHUMAN.

SHE WENT TO BED OBSCURE ONE NIGHT AND BECAME ONE OF THE MOST FAMOUS PEOPLE IN THE COUNTRY IF NOT THE WORLD THE NEXT DAY.

AND I THINK IT'S BEEN HARD.

I THINK SHE HAS TO HAVE SECURITY THAT SHE DIDN'T USED TO HAVE.

EVERYBODY'S WATCHING HER MOVE, YOU KNOW, HER NEXT MOVE.

SHE TALKS ABOUT SOMETIMES NOT SURE SHE WANTS TO BE IN POLITICS ANYMORE.

I DON'T THINK THAT'S TRUE, BUT YOU COULD SEE HOW THIS MAY NOT BE THE LIFE FOR HER AS IT WOULD BE FOR ANYONE.

ALL RIGHT.

I THINK WE'RE JUST ABOUT DONE WITH THE TIME AND I WANT TO MAKE SURE I PLUG THE BOOK, IT'S 'THE AOC JEB RATION: HOW MILLENNIALS ARE SEIZING POWER AND REWRITING THE RULES OF AMERICAN POLITICS.'

DAVID, IT'S A GOOD BOOK.

I CERTAINLY HOPE PEOPLE PICK IT UP AND READ IT.

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING US TODAY.

THIS WAS A LOT OF FUN.

I APPRECIATE IT.

> 'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III, SYLVIA A. AND SIMON B. POYTA PROGRAMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT ANTI-SEMITISM, THE PETER G. PETERSON AND JOAN GANZ COONEY FUND, BERNARD AND DENISE SCHWARTZ, BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG, THE AMBROSE MONELL FOUNDATION.

AND BY -- JANET PRINDLE SEIDLER, JODY AND JOHN ARNHOLD, CHERYL AND PHILIP MILSTEIN FAMILY, JUDY AND JOSH WESTON, DR. ROBERT C. AND TINA SOHN FOUNDATION.

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