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N.Y. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez On How The Democratic Party Is Evolving


Tomorrow, the best-known freshman member of Congress advances a signature issue. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez will propose what she calls a Green New Deal, a plan to fight climate change in ways that also create jobs. The New York Democratic socialist has been in the limelight since she beat a veteran Democrat in a primary race last year. She once avoided saying she would support Nancy Pelosi for speaker, and she remains an insurgent within her party. Activists linked to her are promoting primary challenges to mainstream Democrats. Today, our colleague Steve Inskeep asked Ocasio-Cortez how her view of her party is evolving.

STEVE INSKEEP, BYLINE: How would you describe your involvement in orchestrating primary challenges to some of your fellow Democratic members of Congress?

ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ: I think that there is certainly a movement after my win because a year ago, I was bartending. And I think that there's a lot of other teachers and nurses and police officers and whomever out there, activists, saying, wait, maybe I can do that, too. With respect to my involvement, I think I'm - right now, I'm just sitting here watching how that unfolds. I'm not trying to...

INSKEEP: Although there are groups you're associated with that...

OCASIO-CORTEZ: There are groups that endorsed me that I continue to - you know, in their support of me, as well their support of my colleagues, like Ayanna Pressley, Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar, I think that we have a responsibility to keep the door open and support avenues that allow working-class people to run.

INSKEEP: How's Nancy Pelosi doing?

OCASIO-CORTEZ: I think she's doing great. One thing that I think I've increased in my respect for her on is the fact that when you are the speaker of the House and when you are the leader of the party, there is a necessity - no matter what your political opinions are, there's this kind of, you know, herding cats of trying to bring people together, some of whom don't believe in my opinion and women's rights and others who are the staunchest progressives in the party. And when your job is to get all of those people to do the same thing, it's extremely difficult to do. And I think that she's done a really good job so far.

KELLY: That's New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. She talks about her proposal for a Green New Deal on tomorrow's Morning Edition. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Steve Inskeep is a host of NPR's Morning Edition, as well as NPR's morning news podcast Up First.