Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a socialist ex-bartender described by a top Democrat as the “future of our party,” is scheduled to appear at two campaign fundraisers this week in Southern California — including an event intended to “mobilize communities across Los Angeles in pursuit of a better, socialist future.”
In the June primary, the 28-year-old political neophyte upset a 10-term incumbent Democrat in a New York congressional district that encompasses parts of the Bronx and Queens.
Her L.A.-based fundraising will begin Thursday at a downtown luncheon titled “Coast-To-Coast Revolution,” where planners say Ocasio-Cortez will explain “the blueprint she is creating for winning against corporate Dems.” She will also discuss several progressive ballot measures that residents in the L.A. area will soon decide in upcoming elections, such as the possible establishment of a public bank “for the 99%,” expanding rent control throughout the state, and a proposed voter referendum that would increase civilian oversight powers over the county Sheriff’s Department. Event organizers recently posted online: “We have sold out of the advanced tickets. Tickets may be purchased at the door.”
Friday night, Ocasio-Cortez’s second fundraiser in L.A. is scheduled to take place inside a Koreatown house of worship that “seeks to establish economic and social justice for the church’s neighborhood and the world.” The gathering, which has also sold out, is sponsored by the L.A. chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) — a branch which has close to 1,500 members. It will feature a conversation with Ocasio-Cortez addressing such topics as “people-powered” campaigns, “taking on the political establishment,” and rallying individuals and communities to advance socialist policies and ideas.
Ocasio-Cortez joined DSA while angling for the group’s endorsement for her debut congressional run. Less than one year ago, she was bartending in a New York City restaurant. Now she is vying to become the first DSA member to serve in Congress since the late Rep. Ron Dellums (D-CA) left office 20 years ago. The former Bay Area Congressman died earlier this week of cancer. While U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) considers himself a democratic socialist, he is not an official member of DSA, which has experienced a spike in membership in the political era of Donald J. Trump.
According to NPR, “membership has grown sevenfold since 2015, from around 6,000 then to 43,000 as of early July.” That rapid growth was also attributed to enthusiasm from Sen. Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign and Ocasio-Cortez’s primary win last month. She is the most prominent DSA comrade currently up for election, but the New York Times previously reported that “dozens of D.S.A. members” are “running in this fall’s midterms for offices across the country at nearly every level.”
Ocasio-Cortez is expected to return to Los Angeles in three weeks to participate in the second annual Left-Coast Forum. She is listed as a keynote speaker along with Dr. Melina Abdullah, lead organizer for the L.A. chapter of Black Lives Matter; and Eric Mann, a former Weather Underground radical who has spent several years organizing students enrolled in L.A.’s public school system.
Follow Jeffrey Cawood on Twitter @Near_Chaos.