Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., rallied for the Democratic party to be the “progressive party once more” at a sold-out event Saturday at the University of Colorado Boulder’s Glenn Miller Ballroom.
Throughout her address at the Boulder County Democratic Party’s 44th annual Truman Dinner, the freshman congresswoman shared her hopes for the future of the Democratic party. She touched on climate change activism, giving power to the working class and returning to “FDR roots.”
Perhaps alluding to the late president’s famed “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself” speech, Ocasio-Cortez in her address to the party dinner also called on people to be fearless.
“Nothing to fear except inaction,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “The only thing we should be scared of is our future if we do nothing. We have to be bold and audacious and ambitious as possible.”
Her words throughout the evening were often received with cheers and applause, a likely testament to just how excited the crowd was to see her. She drew the largest crowd in the annual dinner’s history, and many attendees arrived more than three hours early to wait outside the ballroom.
The congresswoman seemed just as thrilled to see the large crowd.
“This room is so packed tonight,” she said. “It’s thrilling to see so many people here.”
Ocasio-Cortez, a former Bronx bartender, said Congress should be made up of working-class people, like teachers and nurses.
“We cannot have people who are using our public trust as a piggy bank for personal profit,” she said. “For so long, the rooms that have governed our country have been behind closed doors with small groups of people with exceedingly high incomes that don’t understand the plight of working class people in America.”
She also nodded to Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s push to raise taxes on the wealthy.
“It is not acceptable that most Americans don’t have more than a $1,000 in their bank account to survive an emergency,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “It is not acceptable that people don’t know if they can survive, because they can’t afford their insulin.”
To move the party’s political agenda forward, Ocasio-Cortez said the Democratic party needs to be “grassroots party,” made up of working people and not dependent on corporate support.
“Boulder is an epicenter for that,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “It is very clear what you all are beginning to accomplish in the state of Colorado.”
Congressman Joe Neguse, D-Boulder, introduced Ocasio-Cortez at the dinner. He has a record of bringing congressmen and women to his district, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who visited Broomfield earlier this summer to talk about healthcare.
Neguse said when he learned about the Green New Deal she was cosponsoring, he said he was intrigued by the concept to reduce carbon emissions and stop climate change.
“She was convinced that if we worked hard enough, this would be something that could transform our country for the better,” Neguse said. “That together, we could fight the existential threat of climate change in a very substantive way and we could leverage the ingenuity of the American work force.”
According to Neguse, 100 House Democrats have backed the Green New Deal. The proposed deal is not immune from criticism and its opponents have called it lofty and expensive.
Earlier Saturday, Ocasio-Cortez visited Boulder High School, where she called on youth to continue efforts to fight for action on climate change.
She also visited several families who have alleged that their lives were impacted negatively by the fracking industry and Ingrid Encalada Latorre, a Peruvian woman who is living in sanctuary in a Boulder church while she resists a deportation order.
Back at CU Boulder, the excitement for Ocasio-Cortez’s appearance was palpable outside the ballroom, even hours before her speech would begin.
“I’m looking forward to hearing from a young, intelligent female change-maker,” said Wendy Rochman, of Boulder, who waited with friends for the venue’s doors to open at 6 p.m. “I want to see some of her tactics and perhaps use them in my conversations.”
For Geri Mitchell-Brown, of Boulder, Saturday night would mark the second time she had come out to see the congresswoman. Mitchell-Brown and her daughter, Tessa Brown, 14, saw Ocasio-Cortez earlier in the day when she spoke before a packed house at Boulder High School.
“It’s really important to me that she sees young, powerful women, who are change makers, who aren’t afraid to speak up and speak out,” Mitchell-Brown said. “Joe Neguse said AOC is fearless. We have to be fearless, if we are to change things for the way that aligns with my values.”
Mitchell-Brown cited the Green New Deal, legislation Ocasio-Cortez crafted alongside Sen. Edward Markey D-Mass., to reform the energy and economy sectors to be less harmful to the environment.
“The whole issue around climate is it is based around and unsustainable, profit-based economy,” Mitchell-Brown said. “Her (AOC’s) policy is rooted in science and economy.”
The sold-out event drew more than 1,000 people to the ballroom. Before they were all snapped up, tickets for the event were highly coveted. The Lisa Smith campaign team, which said they secured two tickets, offered to dole out the tickets to the first people to donate $400, which was to go to the Boulder County Democratic Party.
While media was not initially permitted to attend, the Boulder County Democratic Party sent out last minute invitations the evening before.
This content was originally published here.