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28-year-old who scored historic primary election victory seeks 'generational change'

Wednesday - 27/06/2018 18:32
Fresh off her surprise victory over Rep. Joe Crowley in New York's 14th Congressional District, 28-year-old Democratic Socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez argued that "we need to see a generational change in leadership" in an interview on ABC News' "Powerhouse Politics" podcast.

“Millennials -- they think of us as punk kids, but we’re in our late twenties, we’re in our thirties, and we’re the ones that are going to have to deal with climate change, with automation, with a changing economy,” she told hosts, ABC News' chief White House correspondent Jonathan Karl and political director Rick Klein. “We deserve to have a seat at the table.”

PHOTO: Progressive challenger Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez celebrates with supporters at a victory party in the Bronx after upsetting incumbent Democratic Representative Joseph Crowly on June 26, 2018 in New York.
Scott Heins/Getty Images
Progressive challenger Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez celebrates with supporters at a victory party in the Bronx after upsetting incumbent Democratic Representative Joseph Crowly on June 26, 2018 in New York.

Ocasio-Cortez, who less than a year ago was earning money by waiting tables while she launched her winning campaign, said that the outcome came as a surprise.

“It was a complete shock,” she said of her victory over Crowley, the fourth-ranking House Democrat.

(MORE: In historic upset, 28-year-old Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez unseats 4th ranking House Democrat Joe Crowley)
(MORE: Ocasio-Cortez, progressives highlight immigration in bids to unseat NY incumbents)

However, she sees the defeat as fitting into a growing movement, linked crucially to the economic concerns of young Americans.

“Working class Americans are ready and willing and eager to hear a message of economic, social, and racial justice,” Ocasio-Cortez said.

Although commentators have often emphasized the candidate’s appeal in one of the most diverse districts in the country -- she is a third-generation Bronx woman of Puerto Rican descent -- Ocasio-Cortez often leads with the language of class interests, in addition to race and gender.

PHOTO: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, is photographed while being interviewed in Rockefeller Center, June 27, 2018, in New York City.
Mary Altaffer/AP
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, is photographed while being interviewed in Rockefeller Center, June 27, 2018, in New York City.

She has repeatedly rejected the supposed divide between economic concerns and “identity politics,” a frequently invoked diagnostic tool for Democratic races, as a false dichotomy. Instead, Ocasio-Cortez stresses class as just one more category of “intersectionality,” or the compounding effects of multiple categories of marginalization.

“This is about weaving in an intersectional message of an economic and social agenda that is going to ensure that families are safe, and also can prosper economically, not just in the years to come but for future generations,” she said.

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