Public Listening with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

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The whole country is politically energized at the moment with few areas more energized than my part of New York City where a bevy of first time candidates ousted established ones. No one exemplifies this dynamism more than Bronx born Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who beat one of the most senior Democrats in Congress, and the head of the Queens County political machine, in a primary a few months ago. I had the pleasure of bing a public listener for a fundraiser for Ocasio-Coretez at a private home in Jackson Heights a couple of nights ago. She spoke at length about her campaign, her strategy for change, and then fielded questions from attendees. Before and after she chatted one-on-one with attendees.

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She struck me as very down to earth, plain spoken, and a good listener, as well as speaker. The fact that she is 28 years old makes her ascent all the more impressive.

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She has a very ambitious and far ranging agenda, part of which is to help shift the perception of what is possible on the policy front. Her rule of thumb, don’t take the temperature, change the thermostat.

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Since she is heavily favored to win in the general election, she is expending a lot of energy supporting other candidates in New York State and nationally. She said she hopes she’s a foot in the door for other like minded candidates, framing the political struggle in this country as between the top and the bottom, not the left and the right.

One thing that popped out for me is that she did not run to win (even she was shocked when she did win)—-she ran to educate and organize. I will be interested to see how she educates and organizes with her platform as congresswoman.

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Tip of the hat to the incredible Anthony Weeks for the term Public Listener. I believe he coined this phrase.