Congresswoman-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez talks about not being bullied by the right, taking action on climate change, Amazon's plans in New York, Nancy Pelosi and more in an interview with MSNBC's Chris Hayes.
Ocasio-Cortez said the letter passed around by anti-Pelosi Democrats doesn't do anything other than call for change for the sake of calling for change.
"When I was reading this letter that was kind of released today, my main concern was that there is no vision, there is no common value, there is no goal that is really articulated in this letter aside from we need to change," she said Monday night.
Ocasio-Cortez warned without Pelosi in charge then Democratic leadership could "get more conservative."
"I mean if anything, I think that what it does that it creates a window where we could potentially get more conservative leadership and when you actually look at the signatories, it is not necessarily reflective of the diversity of the party," the Congresswoman-elect said.
"There’s very few ideological diversity, it’s not like there are progressives that are signing on," she said. "It’s not like you have a broad based coalition. I’m not totally bought into the concept."
Ocasio-Cortez also talked about her opposition to Amazon in Queens and what foreign jobs coming back to America means for housing affordability.
"We’re threatened with rising rents," she said. "We have seen this happen in San Francisco and Seattle. We’ve seen it with Fox Con, in the Midwest as well. And so I -- I -- because I don’t -- because I did not accept any corporate lobbyist contributions in my campaign, I feel like I have the liberty to advocate directly for the community is telling me. And if this is what the community is telling me, it’s my responsibility to voice those concerns."
HAYES: So one of the -- one of the sort of big issues right now is this leadership fight. So there are 16 House Democrats who signed the letter saying the time has come from new leadership, basically saying they won’t vote for Nancy Pelosi. If Ben McAdams wins in Utah that’s -- they’re one vote short of blocking her. Where are you and how do you read this fight?
OCASIO-CORTEZ: Well, for me when I -- when I was reading this letter that was kind of released today, my main concern was that there is no vision, there is no common value, there is no goal that is really articulated in this letter aside from we need to change.
And for me what that says is, you know, I do think that we got sent to Congress on a Mandate to change how government works. To change what government even looks like.
But if we are not on the same page about changing the systems and the values and how we’re going to adapt as a party for the future, then what is the point of just changing our party leadership just for the sake of it.
HAYES: What I’m hearing from you is that you don’t feel like there’s an ideological or substantive sort of agenda driven core of this objection.
OCASIO-CORTEZ: No. I mean if anything, I think that what it does that it creates a window where we could potentially get more conservative leadership and when you actually look at the signatories, it is not necessarily reflective of the diversity of the party.
We -- you know after -- we have about 16 signatories, 14 of them are male. There are very few people of color in the caucus. There are very -- there’s very few ideological diversity, it’s not like there are progressives that are signing on.
It’s not like you have a broad based coalition. So I find it -- you know I -- I’m not totally bought into the concept.
HAYES: You -- Justice Democrats, JustDems (ph), which a group that has sort of worked with your campaign early on, you and they had sort of announced your plans to continue to process or (inaudible) incumbent democrats, which is how, of course, you got to Congress. I wonder like how that -- how does that color the relationships you have with the incumbents there?
OCASIO-CORTEZ: Well, I think what’s important to articulate what Justice Democrats is about is really it’s not -- their mission -- their mission isn’t we’re going to primary democrats.
Their mission is we’re going to support working class candidates to run in midterm elections and -- so they have supported and endorsed candidates in red to blues, in open primaries, and -- but they do not shy away from actual primaries and blue races either.
And so, you know, I don’t -- I don’t -- I’m not sure if it really changes much because incumbent democrats support and endorse against other incumbents all the time. You had Dan Lipinski earlier this year.
HAYES: That’s what incumbency is.
OCASIO-CORTEZ: That is -- you know …
HAYES: That’s being part of the club.
OCASIO-CORTEZ: And so -- but you have people that also support other primary challengers to incumbents as well. Like again, you had Dan Lipinski this year or you have Kirsten Gillibrand, you have Pramila Jayapal that came in and said we need change in this community.
So I don’t think it’s anything too out of -- I don’t think is a departure from precedent at all but I also think that we need to realize, at least for me and what I tell my community is that we don’t -- once we get elected to Congress, we don’t own these seats. We rent them from our communities.
And we have to make our case every single time and that’s not -- I’m saying this to you as an incumbent to be and I realize that that -- that that means that I hold myself to that standard as well but I think it makes our democracy health.
HAYES: Follow up on that. You -- you know a lot of what a congressional office does, obviously, in a district is like social security disability payment was -- got held up in some logistical problem and I’m calling up my member of Congress to be like help me out.
Like that stuff that my -- my understanding is that you don’t have that much experience with that. I mean I know you worked in Ted Kennedy’s office but like are you -- how are you thinking about setting that part of this operation up.
OCASIO-CORTEZ: Yes, and actually the constituents services was what I did in the late Senator Kennedy’s office and that’s where I really learned how important it was for us to have really robust constituent services because that is the real interaction that an everyday person has with their elected official.
They say hey, my Medicare isn’t working out. Hey, my Visa application for my fiancé isn’t -- is getting blocked, what can you do. And so really -- it -- cutting through that red tape of government bureaucracy in order to serve our constituents is a huge service that we can have and it’s something that we’re really looking forward to building out in an innovative way.
HAYES: Your district I think includes or adjacent to the new proposed Amazon headquarters, right, in Long Island City.
OCASIO-CORTEZ: Yes, it’s adjacent.
HAYES: It’s adjacent. So obviously there will be ripple spillover effects. You’ve been quite outspoken against it. Do you think you can put together political coalition to block it.
OCASIO-CORTEZ: Well, you know for me it’s -- it’s not just about me governing top down. The reason that I spoke out on this issue to begin with is because organizers and residents of my community were busting down our doors, saying you need to say something about this because we are threatened with homelessness.
We’re threatened with rising rents. We have seen this happen in San Francisco and Seattle. We’ve seen it with Fox Con, in the Midwest as well. And so I -- I -- because I don’t -- because I did not accept any corporate lobbyist contributions in my campaign, I feel like I have the liberty to advocate directly for the community is telling me. And if this is what the community is telling me, it’s my responsibility to voice those concerns.
HAYES: Right. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, democratic Congresswoman-elect, here in New York. Come back anytime. Thanks for joining.