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Young Activists "Have Always Been Seen as Rebellious": Ocasio-Cortez Defends Progressive Lawmakers' Aggressive Push for Bold Reforms

"Our political system is not designed for people like us. They're not designed for working people to succeed, for young people, for women, for people of color."

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) appeared on ABC's "The View" on Wednesday. (Image: YouTube/screenshot)

In an appearance on ABC's popular daytime talk show "The View" Wednesday, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez spoke about what she called a "disconnect" between centrist, establishment members of the Democratic Party and progressive lawmakers who have been viewed as agitators in the party.

Co-host Whoopi Goldberg said that while she had applauded Ocasio-Cortez's surprise victory in her 2018 primary against Wall Street-backed former Rep. Joe Crowley, she has since cooled on the lawmaker due to what she views as a dismissal of baby boomers' past activism. Ocasio-Cortez has pushed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to back a Green New Deal, called on her fellow Democrats to support Medicare for All, and criticized Democrats who take big-money donations from the financial, for-profit healthcare, and fossil fuel sectors.

"Youth and culture has always been seen and cast as rebellious, but ultimately we are not a moment that is disconnected from our past."
—Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.)

"You lost me because it felt like you were saying to people like me that I was too old and didn't do enough," Goldberg said. "I love young people, I was once one. But you're on my shoulders and we have carried this fight...and to sort of hear it sound like you were dismissing us bothered the hell out of me."

Ocasio-Cortez said that such feedback is valuable and helps to counter a political landscape in which Democrats are "disconnected"—but not "divided" from one another.

"The way that we connect is by sharing honestly our takes with each other," Ocasio-Cortez said. "I think there's a lot of incentive to blow up disagreements in the party as huge fights. I think it's important for us to recognize...the people who have been in this fight to allow us to have this window as we do right now."

After acknowledging Pelosi's leadership and that of several progressive lawmakers, the congresswoman added that like baby boomers who demanded an end to the Vietnam War, marched for women's rights and LGBTQ rights, and protested nuclear proliferation, young people today who are leading the fight for climate, racial, and economic justice are seen as "rebellious."

"Youth and culture has always been seen and cast as rebellious, but ultimately we are not a moment that is disconnected from our past," Ocasio-Cortez said. "We are part of a long movement of ancestors and elders that we should always acknowledge."

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Tania Singh, an executive board member with the California Democratic Party, applauded Ocasio-Cortez for her diplomatic response to Goldberg.

"She's a good surrogate for Bernie in terms of outreach to those who are bitter and need their egos stroked to show some solidarity with the problems people are facing today," Singh tweeted. "I would've not been able to maintain composure at the question."

Sanders leads the Democratic primary field among young voters in recent polls, while centrist candidates including former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg and former Vice President Joe Biden are supported largely by voters over age 55.

On "The View," Ocasio-Cortez talked about how young, unapologetically progressive lawmakers like herself and Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) are changing the U.S. political system simply by having a presence on Capitol Hill.

"Our political system is not designed for people like us. They're not designed for working people to succeed, for young people, for women, for people of color," said Ocasio-Cortez, who was working as a bartender in New York just a year before she won her congressional seat.

"Our entire political system revolves around rich men," she added. "And rich men are not the center of my universe, working families are."

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