28-year-old Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez seeks 'generational change' after historic primary election victory

PHOTO: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the winner of a Democratic Congressional primary in New York, reacts to a passerby, June 27, 2018, in New York. Ocasio-Cortez, 28, upset U.S. Rep. Joe Crowley in Tuesdays election.PlayMark Lennihan/AP
WATCH 28-year-old Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez scores historic win over Joe Crowley

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.

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“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.

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.

Her concern for the working class has led her to endorse bold legislation, including a federal jobs guarantee, Medicare for All, and free education.

Her plans for the House seat, which she is heavily favored to win in November, don’t stop at progressive legislation. Affirming that she would support the impeachment of President Donald Trump, Ocasio-Cortez cited, “serious violations of the emoluments clause, among other very large concerns.”

“The increased militarization and willingness to commit human rights abuses -- we are at that point," she said. "It’s unfortunate, but I believe that we are at that point."

“And he should be impeached?” Karl asked.

“Yes,” Ocasio-Cortez said.

Ocasio Cortez exchanged endorsements with Cynthia Nixon, the "Sex in the City" actress challenging Gov. Andrew Cuomo in New York's Democratic gubernatorial primary, the day before the election against Crowley. She noted that Nixon and others face barriers male candidates rarely see.

“Women have a harder time being seen as legitimate,” Ocasio-Cortez said, referring specifically to Nixon and New York state attorney general candidate Zephyr Teachout, all progressive candidates who join Ocasio-Cortez’s call to abolish ICE. “The media coverage of my race was very scarce until the very end.".

The candidate also noted that her victory should be a warning sign to incumbents, who shouldn’t fall asleep behind the wheel.

“There is no such thing as being unassailable, in America," she said.

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