This past Sunday, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the new darling of the progressive movement after her defeat of political titan Rep. Joe Crowley in Tuesday’s Democratic Congressional Primary, was not knocking on doors or talking at churches in her district. She had done plenty of that over the past few months. Instead, she was on the border of Texas and Mexico, visiting children who were separated from their parents and being held at the Tornillo-Guadalupe migrant internment camp. She reiterated to outlets like Vogue and The Intercept her commitment to abolishing Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), as she stood thousands of miles away from the district in which she was running against a political giant.
Her choice to forgo the traditional run-up to a primary election may not have impacted the outcome of the race. She may have been on the path to victory already because of the effort she had put forth in the weeks and months leading up to voting day. Some may view her actions as a political stunt to get Latinos in her district to the polls by connecting with them, although it seems unlikely that one grand move like this would be what led thousands to head to the polls and pull the lever for her.
Our take is that even if Ocasio-Cortez’s decision to go to the border was cynical and driven by a desire to win her election, it was the right move.
The revelations of the travesties taking place at the border has left our country hurting, and our political leaders need to show that they are as scarred by this as their constituents, and demand action and answers. Ocasio-Cortez did this, and in doing so proved that she is more than qualified and ready to represent the people of the 14th Congressional District.
During the campaign, Ocasio-Cortez made abolishing ICE a key piece of her platform and a rallying cry as she traveled around the majority-minority district. The shifting demographics in this district, coupled with the fracturing of the Democratic Party on a local and national scale, provided an opening for 28-year-old Ocasio-Cortez. While the abolishment idea is unrealistic and likely never to happen, campaigns are the place for big ideas. If you can’t talk about your long-term hopes for the future of the land you love during a campaign, then it’s likely the conversation will never happen.
Incumbent Rep. Joe Crowley ran a fairly traditional campaign, rolling out key endorsements of local, citywide and statewide elected officials and organizations. We endorsed him in last week’s issue because he is the fourth-most-powerful House Democrat and was on track to potentially be Speaker. History has shown us that that type of clout can lead to great benefits back home in Queens.
But the people have spoken in electing Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. They want passionate leaders with ambitious goals who will cut through red tape, fiercely fight for their beliefs, and demand action immediately. We wish Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez well. We know she will fight for the people of Queens. We just hope she can quickly learn the ropes of D.C. and be an effective voice for the people of the 14th Congressional District. And we encourage Rep. Crowley and the Queens Democratic Committee to help her.
Now it is up to her and the Democratic party to find dozens just like her to put the Democratics in the majority after the midterms.