Monday, June 18, 2018

The Big Debate-- Ocasio Eviscerates Crowley In Queens


At Friday night's debate Alexandria Ocasio forced him into, Congressman Joe Crowley was completely out of his depth. When he promised this constituents "good paying jobs... affordable healthcare, they’re hoping that they can send their children to college and get a higher education... retirement security," it was only natural to wonder what he's been doing for the past 31 years since he's been in office. Crowley and his family live in Virginia and has virtually nothing to do with NY-14, the Queens/Bronx district he represents as some kind of absentee landlord. The district includes Steinway, Woodside, Jackson Heights, Corona, East Elmhurst, College Point and Malba in Queens and Throggs Neck, Parkchester, Morris Park, Pelham, Baychester and Middletown, City Island and Eastchester Bay in The Bronx. The Democratic machine boss of Queens, a few years ago Crowley hired a lobbyist to get The Bronx out of his district-- too many people of color. The lobbyist failed and now Crowley's worst nightmare is coming true: a primary challenge from a young Hispanic woman who is forcing him to defend a record that has nothing to do with his own district, just his own careerism.

Briahna Gray reported on the debate for The Intercept. She painted it-- accurately-- as a contest between "establishment and outsider, old guard and upstart, experience and progress, status quo and change." Crowley had his lunch eaten. His "first remarks were those of a professional who felt confident enough to not prepare-- and who realized too late that he should have." He spent the whole debate babbling about fighting Trump, which he hasn't been very successful in doing for the last year and a half. Ocasio scored when she told him that "It’s not enough to fight Trump. We have to fight the issues that made his rise in the first place."

"Ocasio-Cortez’s stridency and urgent framing," wrote Gray, "highlighted the difference between lip service and substantive change, between a movement powered by small donors and a politician funded by Wall Street and luxury real estate developers. Whereas Crowley framed issues in terms of what he thinks his constituents want, Ocasio articulated them as goals she could deliver. Crowley’s nod to 'affordable healthcare' and the 'hope' of higher education sounded anemic next to Ocasio-Cortez’s demand for guaranteed jobs and free public college. And where Crowley emphasized his support of Barack Obama while underscoring how many thousands in the district are helped by the Affordable Care Act, Ocasio-Cortez’s focus was on getting more for her constituents in the form of Medicare for All.
Crowley’s experience and power in Washington are only useful for Queens and Bronx residents if he uses that power to benefit them as opposed to his high-end donors. Crowley’s promise to provide affordable housing felt empty, given that housing has only become more expensive during his long tenure-- especially since, as Ocasio-Cortez has pointed out repeatedly during the campaign, Crowley’s coffers have swelled with donations from luxury real estate developers. One exchange that was damaging to Crowley came when he defended a major development project by claiming that the local community board had been in favor of it. Ocasio-Cortez, however, had been at the vote and protested the development, and she corrected him: the board in fact voted overwhelming against it.

...Viewers looking for a spat about identity politics in the wake of The Intercept’s recent report that Crowley accused his opponent of making the race “about race” were disappointed. Issues of identity barely surfaced from Ocasio-Cartez, who mentioned the diversity of her district and the importance of representation, but left the identity wrangling to Crowley, who, in a clear effort to fend off accusations that he’s insufficiently diverse, sounded off a list the names of all the people of color who, as machine boss, he’s helped get into office. Her response: “This isn’t just about gender and race, but class.” And without missing a beat, she pivoted to a controversial zoning issue in the district which she says was approved will displacing working, disproportionately immigrant families to the benefit of luxury real estate developers.

 In fact, from her opening statement, Ocasio-Cortez made it clear that she wasn’t just an “identity” candidate. “In a district that is 85 percent Democrat, overwhelmingly working class and 70 percent people of color, we deserve a working class champion,” she said.

It’s possible that Ocasio-Cortez simply understands that her relationship to the community she hopes to represent speaks for itself, as was apparent when the candidates answered a question about their favorite restaurants in the district. Crowley offered “Daizies on Sunnyside,” an Italian restaurant.

“Taqueria Tlaxcalli,” Ocasio-Cortez answered with a smile, pronouncing it perfectly. Crowley looked nervous, perhaps wishing her were at Daizies that very moment.

The district has changed from the time when Crowley, who proudly touts his Irish immigrant roots, grew up in it. The question became, regardless of identity, whether Crowley is sufficiently in touch with the neighborhood to meet its evolving needs.

Perhaps the most uncomfortable moment in the short debate occurred when the moderator asked Crowley a question which Ocasio-Cortez has raised consistently throughout her campaign: Why do he and his family choose to live outside the district in the Washington D.C. area? Crowley explained that in his view, he was elected by the taxpayers to represent them in the capital. “And that’s what I’m doing,” he said. “I’m a lifelong New York City resident... My dad was a police officer, my mom was an immigrant,” he said (skipping over how his father also went to law school and became a partner in a firm). “I love this city. I went to school here,” he said. “I went to [Queens College]. This is my borough. This is my city and I love it very much.”

Goal ThermometerOcasio-Cortez followed: “If a person loves their community they would choose to live here... They would choose to drink our water and breathe our air. It takes away fundamental understanding of our community when they’re raised somewhere else.”

Crowley struggled for an answer. “It’s very hard to raise a family,” he said. “I’m just doing the best that I can, quite frankly, as a father.” He seemed to come close to admitting the fundamental issue underlying Ocasio-Cortez’s point: It’s hard to raise kids in New York City. But it shouldn’t have to be.
Please consider helping Alexandria do something historic by replacing Crowley, something that will send a chill up the spine of every blue seat Democrat in Congress who thinks he or she can take their constituents for granted. Please tap the 2018 congressional thermometer on the right and contribute what you can.

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At 6:32 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

yeah, she sounds better. but if Crowley goes down, that just means another Pelosi leadershit bi-annum. And that isn't helpful.

Also, as a frosh democrap, she'll be irrelevant unless someone else like her can displace Pelosi, hoyer and the next 30 in line for leadershit plus another 100 in the caucus.

Bottom line, it won't matter.

At 7:18 AM, Anonymous ap215 said...

Here's the link to donate her campaign

As for the debate she was light's out brilliant on all the issues the voters wanted to hear the two things i didn't like from Joe Corrupt the Reddit smear & his claim that he's the progressive in the race both BS i have proudly voted for her & all the progressives against the corporate elite candidates i'm hoping they all win including the No IDC candidates on the 26th but if they lose then the next election cycle will come around & i & my fellow New Yorkers will work even harder this won't be the end game it's only the beginning & we'll be up for the challenge best of luck to Alexandria & all the true progressives next Tuesday.

At 8:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Showing up one of the "rising stars" of the "democratic" Party means that the Old Guard will redouble their efforts to change the rules to ensure that they don't lose control of the money machine. After all, they will soon need new stilettos.


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