Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: Under estimate her at your own risk

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The top photo is a C-SPAN YouTube screenshot of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

I am always amazed by the commitment New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has to the working class. While the rest of us are focused on — and stressing about — the Biden transition and Trump’s laughable and democracy-damaging efforts to overturn the will of the American voters, AOC is talking about her personal experience being a low wage food service worker and bartender with little or no health and other benefits. She does so because Republicans like to mock AOC, using her past work history as a joke, compared to theirs. 

A Texas Republican compared his background as a SEAL in Afghanistan to that of AOC’s as a bartender. I wonder if GOP Rep. Dan Crenshaw*, a decorated and disabled veteran, could have been a good bartender, remembering off the top of his head the price of every shot of the various whiskeys, tequilas, bourbons, gins, vodkas and other alcoholic beverages? What’s the price of a 10-ounce glass of Miller Beer, compared to a 10-ounce glass of Harp? Do bars even sell Harp in such a small glass? To be honest I don’t know. I haven’t had a drink in over 36 years so I’m a bit removed from thee scene. But AOC remembers many of those details, including the difference between sparkling water and seltzer. I’m going to snitch on myself and admit I don’t know or care. I always wanted the sparkling. But if you are a bartender you better know the difference.

Plus, as a woman AOC had to put up with guys hitting on her the entire time she was behind the bar, mixing their drinks and pouring their draft beers, taking their food orders and turning down requests to have “just one” shot with the boys. And she did all of this for an income that forced her to struggle from pay check to pay check trying to make ends meet.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez easily has more knowledge of what it is and means to be a part of the working poor than any Republican in Congress today. She has more knowledge of it than many Democrats. I was about to compare AOC to Senator Elizabeth Warren who had been a Harvard scholar and law professor, but then remembered Warren used to be a school teacher in Oklahoma. You know how little teachers get paid Oklahoma? How little funding public education gets in the Sooner state? Many of the teachers in Oklahoma are paid less than $34k per year. And all of them have to supplement the classroom supplies out of their own pockets. Elizabeth Warren knows what it means and feels like to be a public school teacher in Oklahoma. 

One could see vast differences between Ocasio-Cortez and Warren, but the one big, glaring similarity is that they both know what it means to be a part of the working poor. They know how it feels to struggle to make ends meet, waiting on the next pay check for a few moments to feel some relief. Then it’s back to paying the bills, buying food, setting some aside for transportation costs. For the working poor, living in America often feels like a nightmare.

Ocasio-Cortez and Warren, along with a large majority of the Democrats in Congress, want to change that, with bills to raise the minimum wage, which, if anyone asks me, is too low at $15 per hour. It should be closer to $23 per hour, but getting the raise to $15 is such a heavy lift, a real living minimum wage is just a fantasy right now.

Right now the GOP is beating the Democrats over the head with the Green New Deal. I blame the Democrats for that. President-Elect Joe Biden tries to run away from it when asked, even though much of his platform includes pieces of the Green New Deal. Democrats let the GOP make it a cudgel, instead of getting out there in front of the cameras and microphones to talk about everything in the proposal that will help the working class and working poor. In other words, average Americans.

One of the main goals of the Green New Deal is: “Guaranteeing a job with a family-sustaining wage, adequate family and medical leave, paid vacations, and retirement security to all people of the United States.” Wow, so effin’ radical. But wait, it gets even more radical: “Providing all people of the United States with – (i) high-quality health care; (ii) affordable, safe, and adequate housing; (iii) economic security; and (iv) access to clean water, clean air, healthy and affordable food, and nature.”

Neither one of those tenets are the least bit radical. All of us should expect to have clean water, air and land, plus have access to affordable and healthy food. We should all have access to good health care and be assured of a secure retirement so we don’t have to take part-time jobs at fast food restaurants to make ends meet. And of course we should protect the land and waterways that have already been set aside to endure as wild spaces, plus we should be setting aside even more land and waterways for protection against development and mineral exploration.

Rebuilding America with green technology will not only lower our carbon footprint by a significant amount, it will also provide hundreds of thousands of jobs to rebuild roads, bridges, hospitals, airports, and every other damn thing we take for granted, but would sorely miss if it went away.

Get high speed internet to the entire nation — without cost — and let those of us who are happy with our high speed internet providers keep what we have at the price we are paying.

Airplane manufacturers are already working on green technology to make their jets fly cleaner with better mileage, just like the brand new cars in the lot. Many industries see which way the wind is blowing and they are trying to get a piece of the new green technology. In other words, the Green New Deal has already started.

All the Democratic Party needs to do — starting with President-Elect Joe Biden and Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris — embrace what is in the Green New Deal. Call it something else if it makes them feel better, but it’s time to deliver for America’s middle class, working poor and the indigent. 

Saw this on social media: “It’s weird how every single thing we’ve been told that happens under socialism is happening under capitalism. The hours of waiting in lines for food, extremely high unemployment and authoritarianism.”

Or, paraphrasing Vermont Independent Senator Bernie Sanders: “The GOP loves corporate welfare for the ultra wealthy, but when it comes to the rest of us we’re supposed to be rugged individualists.”

Instead of trying to be Republican-Lite, let’s be progressive. Put something in that COVID-19 relief bill for the average Americans, put money in their pockets every month until this pandemic has passed, when everyone that wants it, gets vaccinated. Money they will spend in an economy that is spiraling down a deep, dark hole. That will be the engine that revives the economy, not another give away to big corporations. Don’t give the big corporations a pass when it comes to their employees getting infected with the coronavirus at work. Force the companies to provide safe environments for their workers, or face being sued for not providing a safe workplace.

The richest people in America made over $100 billion in this pandemic. And you think giving the middle class, working poor and indigent $1,200 is too much? Canada has been giving its citizens $2k per month. They pay small businesses to stay closed and pay their employees to stay home from work.

Canada now has over 423 thousand confirmed cases with 12,777 deaths from COVID-19. That’s just over 14 deaths per 1 million people. In the United States we have a staggering 84 deaths per 100,000 people. Currently we have nearly 15 million cases in the U.S. with 284,111 fatalities.

President-Elect Joe Biden made a great choice today when he announced Dr. Rochelle Walensky to head the CDC. She “… is the Co-Director of the Medical Practice Evaluation Center at Massachusetts General Hospital, Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, and a practicing Infectious Disease physician at Massachusetts General Hospital.” I copied and pasted from her profile at Mass Brigham General, but if you watch the news channels you may have seen some of her testimony regarding the coronavirus. Dr. Walensky knows infectious diseases and will be a great leader in that agency. Dr. Anthony Fauci is staying on as well. Things are looking up.

Biden announced California Attorney General Xavier Becerra to be the Secretary of Health and Human Services. Well, he’s off the list of potentials to fill the Senate seat that will be vacated when Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris is sworn in January 20, 2012. Congresswoman Barbara Lee would be a nice choice, Governor Newsom. Or, Congresswoman Karen Bass. Both are tough fighters when it comes to the working class, working poor and indigent people in California and America.

So, Mr. Biden, make another great decision and commit to putting all our efforts into ending the coronavirus pandemic and the climate crisis. Look at the Green New Deal and use everything that adds good paying jobs that decreases our carbon footprint. And if you need some input on what it means to be a part of the working poor, just call Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. She also knows how to use social media to push an agenda and take apart Republicans that dare to mock her and the other progressive members of the Democratic Party.

Old-time entertainer Will Rogers once said, “I am not a member of any organized political party. I am a Democrat.” Maybe it’s time to get a little more organized and start helping the regular folks of America and save the planet at the same time. Is that a radical idea?

Huh … I forgot to rant about Trump and the Trump Cult … next time.

*As much as I disagree with his political and social views, I tip my hat to Rep. Crenshaw for his devotion to our nation. He paid a price few of us ever will to defend our Constitution.