Democratic mega-star Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez barnstormed San Francisco Tuesday, appearing at two fundraisers, including one that, owing to her immense popularity, sold out twice, as event organizers scrambled for a larger venue.
But most interestingly, and unnoticed by the mainstream media, the pricier of the two fundraisers for her congressional campaign, hosted by San Francisco Supervisor Jane Kim and other leading local progressives, was held at a new clubhouse for women, called the Assembly, that illegally bars male members.
Discrimination in public accommodations based on sex is prohibited under San Francisco law.
The exclusionary venue for the posh fundraiser, where tickets ranged from $50 to $2700, was ironic for a campaign that is supposedly all about inclusion.
Octavio-Cortez’s campaign did not respond to an email asking if she knew about the prohibition on male members and whether she would speak there again. The issue of clubs excluding men has percolated this year with the New York Times devoting a massive feature to the topic, and the center of the movement has been in California, where the Unruh Civil Rights Act, forbids discrimination by any business establishment based on a person’s sex, race and other characteristics.
Only 28, Octavio-Cortez catapulted to fame this June with her surprise primary victory over veteran New York Congressman Joseph Crowley, the number four House leader. The self-described Democratic socialist supposedly represents the new wave of the party because she is young, Latino and female. So she is clearly all the range among San Francisco’s hearty progressives.
The other fundraiser was sponsored by the San Francisco Progressive Alliance, a coalition that includes the Democratic Socialists of America SF chapter, the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club and the Latino Democratic Club. Ticket prices ranged from $10 to $250 and it was originally scheduled for the El Rio bar. But tickets sold out within hours after they went on sale last Wednesday July 25. So the shindig was moved to the Grey Area performing arts center. Tickets for that 500 seat venue quickly sold out as well.
In her 19-minute speech Tuesday night Ocasio-Cortez promised to run a broad based campaign and also expressed amazement at her sudden success, which sounded genuine as opposed to the contrived self-effacement of many politicians.
“Our swing voter is not red to blue, it’s nonvoter to voter,” she declared. “They stay home because they don’t feel like we’re fighting hard enough for them.”
“There is no normal way to prepare as a human being for what is happening,” she said. “Literally, just imagine you just wake up one morning and CNN’s writing articles about you — that’s kind of my life right now.”
“Literally, a couple of months ago, I was bartending in Union Square,” she said with amazement.
But the newly-minded Dem luminary also trotted out some familiar leftist refrains, urging the Democratic Party to support Medicare for all and a national jobs program.
Speaking for young people like herself she said “We are convinced that we are more marginalized and alone than we are. We are ashamed into not talking about twenty, thirty, fifty, one hundred thousand-dollar student loan debts. We are ashamed to say that we can barely afford our rent. We are ashamed to say that we don’t have health insurance because we can’t afford it.”
“And that lack of talking about it contributes to a lack of power,” she said. “So we’re going to talk about it. Because too many Americans make less than $30,000 or $40,000 a year.”
“And in the wealthiest society in the history of humanity, we can have good things.”