Nadler’s UWS Town Hall Features Boisterous Rhetoric and (Gasp!) Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez


From left to right: Rep. Jerry Nadler, NOW NY President Susan Ossorio, Democratic congressional candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Swing Left Deputy Political Director Ian Christie.

By Michael McDowell

At home on the Upper West Side, Congressman Jerrold Nadler held court at a boisterous and well-attended town hall on Monday night, which served as both a celebration of recent Democratic victories and a rally to mobilize voters ahead of the November 2018 midterm elections.

The event, which was held at Symphony Space on Broadway and 95th Street, featured the unexpected appearance of Congressional candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, as well as a number of other prominent New York City Democrats.

City Comptroller Scott Stringer, who introduced Rep. Nadler, rallied the crowd with talk of impeachment—after Democrats flip the House of Representatives in November, that is.

“The energy in New York City is real, people are so fired up, so ready to go, so ready to take back our democracy, so ready to make sure that Congressman Jerry Nadler becomes Chair of the Judiciary Committee,” Stringer said, to loud applause. The Judiciary Committee, among other activities, considers articles of impeachment; Nadler, if Democrats do take the House in November, would become its Chair.

Nadler, however, did not address impeachment, and instead focused on the importance of November’s midterms.

“I don’t have to tell you what’s at stake in this election, that this election is critical. Nancy Pelosi often says that we come before you every two years and we say ‘This is the most important election, ever.’ And it’s usually true. It’s certainly true this year. We must stop this administration, and the Republicans who are using this moment to push the worst possible agenda, and to attack the foundations of our democracy. Simultaneously, we must move to the positive, proactive things we want to do to protect our values and people,” he said.

Nadler sketched the road ahead, if Democrats are to regain control of the House.

“Right now there are over a hundred targeted races around the country in the House, of which about 53 or so are extremely competitive for Democrats…We need 23 seats gained to get the majority…But in order to do this, we have to win seats that are traditionally Republican, seats like Max Rose in New York’s 11th Congressional District. Max is our candidate, Donovoan is the Republican incumbent, in Staten Island and Southern Brooklyn. Candidates like Antonio Delgado’s Race in the 19th Congressional District in the mid-Hudson Valley against Faso. And I have a particular interest in Faso because when I was in the Assembly years ago, Faso was the Minority Leader, and he’s just as fascist now as he was then. Seats like Andy Kim in New Jersey’s 3rd Congressional District, MacArthur is the incumbent, who introduced a particularly devilish amendment against the Affordable Care Act. Seats like Mikie Sherrill in the 11th Congressional District not too far from here in New Jersey. Seats like Susan Wild in Pennsylvania 7th, where the Republican incumbent is retiring. These races are going to depend on turnout and energy.”

The audience was particularly enthusiastic when Nadler turned to the recent defeat of members of the state’s Independent Democratic Conference (IDC). To a roar he introduced Robert Jackson, who last week defeated State Senator Marisol Alcantara, a former member of the IDC. After a contentious primary, Jackson emphasized the need for Democratic unity, and said that November is “about all of us working together in order to make sure that New York State is truly blue, and to make sure that the House is flipped!”

But it was Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a rising Democratic star who is likely headed to Congress next year, who stole the show. Her appearance, which produced an audible gasp, was unannounced.


Ocasio-Cortez posed for pictures.

“As Congressman Nadler stated, the stakes in this election couldn’t be higher…Our Founding Fathers always stated that this is the pursuit of a more perfect union—and our job is to find out what more perfect means to our generation. So to me what more perfect means is a livable wage for every person in this country. To me what more perfect means is a criminal justice system that elevates justice over the persecution of communities of color. To me what more perfect means is one man, one person, one vote—and that dollars do not mean more than people in this country.”

The power of the individual to effect change in politics was a key theme of the evening, and major community organizers were well represented. National Organization for Women New York head Sonia Ossorio invited volunteers to participate in get-out-the-vote efforts. “You will be successful when you have worn out your sneakers or your flats,” she said.

Ian Christie, Deputy Political Director for Swing Left, reminded the audience that there remain only 50 days—or seven weekends—before the November elections.

“When you think about Danny O’Connor [in Ohio] losing an election by 1600 votes, 0.4 percent difference between win or lose, when you think of Conor Lamb in Pennsylvania’s 18th winning by 755 votes, it means that if you sign up to go knock on doors during that last weekend…you may be the difference,” Christie said.

Nadler himself is no stranger to close elections.

“When Ian talks about close elections…I was elected to the State Assembly years ago by 73 votes. Prior to that, I lost an election, once, by 18 votes. After that election, I cannot tell you how many people came up to me and said, ‘If I had known, I would have voted!’”

State Assembly Member Linda Rosenthal, who represents the Upper West Side and Hell’s Kitchen, encouraged the audience to mobilize, “so you can help with the revolution, so you can help make sure Jerry is Chair of Judiciary, and I look forward to being there with you because we’ve got to flip this country back to where it belongs.”

Members of the audience had a diverse range of questions. A man asked about the representation of people with disabilities in campaign materials, as well as the efforts Democrats are making on behalf of Americans with disabilities.

“One of the battles we have in Washington, which so far we’ve actually won, the Republicans every couple of years try to eviscerate the Americans with Disabilities Act. It comes before the Judiciary Committee, and we have managed to beat them back every time, so far. But this is also at stake,” Nadler said.

Ocasio-Cortez also responded.

“I believe that we really truly do have the seeds of a renewed ADA movement in this country. In the town halls and listening stops we have in New York’s 14th—my district is in the Bronx and Queens—and even in other places in the country, in Delaware, in Michigan, this topic comes up in every single conversation.”

Regarding messaging, a member of the audience expressed his concern over the increasing prominence of socialism in the Democratic Party.

“I would like all of you to get away from this socialist turn—I would like you to say, ‘We are Democrats who believe there are certain things that should not be run for profit. We believe in capitalism, but we believe in capitalism with regulation. We don’t want to take away capitalism, but we know human nature, and it needs regulation.’ Socialism is a word that infuriates the other side,” he said.

Ocasio-Cortez responded.

“Don’t let the right define us…I’m not here to sell an -ism. I don’t think any Congressman comes out and says, ‘Hey, I want to knock on your door and talk about late-stage hypercapitalism. I’m a late-stage hypercapitalist, let me sing the joys of a less-than-living wage. Republicans don’t say that. And we don’t name it either. We don’t say they believe in extremist capitalism in which people should be paid less than the amount that they can afford to live in this country.”

Calling attention to the august demographics of the audience, a woman asked where the younger folks are, and what Democrats are doing to engage them.

Ocasio-Cortez had an answer.

“There’s this idea of the non-voter as apathetic, uneducated, not understanding of the system, but in my congressional primary we expanded the electorate 68 percent over the last off-year midterm…In fact, if you look at the breakdown, it was young people, young voters voting in an off-year midterm primary election that really brought home the win. It was young people across race, across income, across class.”

She continued.

“I think two dimensional and left and right is the most mistaken frame that we can possibly use to understand the electorate…our politics are not left and right, our politics are up and down. We, as Democrats, are champions of the bottom—we are champions of the middle class, the working class, and the poor, and I will never shy away from that…A rising tide lifts all boats.”

Nadler urged attendees to mobilize.

“The more we join forces, the more organized we are—it’s good that we’re angry—but we have to be organized and strategic…and if we do the work to help campaigns around the country, we will win, we will win control of the House, maybe even control of the Senate. I’m beginning to think that’s possible.”

Nadler, who recently became a grandfather, has represented the Upper West Side in some capacity since 1977.

Also in attendance were State Sen. Brian Benjamin and City Councilman Mark Levine.

NEWS | 29 comments | permalink
    1. John McDowell says:

      Brilliant!

    2. Hugo says:

      Ocasio is Telegenic and talks a good talk, but when it comes to numbers and facts, she’s clueless. She has NO idea where the money will come from to pay for her ideas. She’s actually dangerous because she has followers when she has no idea how to implement her ideas.

      • Lilly says:

        I totally agree with you. Someone needs to reign her in and have her mentored by a more veteran Democratic politician (long time Brooklyn Rep. Nydia Velasquez) whom she could respect since her platform seems to be directed at the Latino community.

      • Sid says:

        Why only Ocasio? Plenty of politicians have grand ideas with no initial plans of how to fund it, and we don’t stamp them out.

    3. UWSHebrew says:

      I don’t vote for communists.

    4. Sherman says:

      If Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez represents the future of the Democratic Party then it’s in big trouble.

      This woman is little more than the left wing equivalent of Sarah Palin.

      After the crushing defeat that “progressives”, ie Cynthia Nixon, took from the primaries last week I had hoped the Dems would have gotten a little smarter. Apparently they haven’t.

      These politics might appeal to some lefty voters on the UWS and Park Slope but they will alienate just about everyone else. The Dems are not going to defeat Trump and his gang by veering to the loony left.

      Furthermore, Nadler should be ashamed of himself for trying to legitimize candidates like AOC and even standing on the stage with her.

      • You says:

        All of the haters on this comment area are just scared white men. How about you judge her by her actions?

        • Woody says:

          Did you mean (in)actions? I think that’s his point.

        • ZoomZ says:

          OK You says, lets talk about her actions.
          She claimed to be raised in the Bronx, dirt poor.
          In reality, she was raised in Westchester county, very middle class life, not poor at all, and NOT from the Bronx.
          I’ll stop at that.

        • Lilly says:

          I am not a “scared white man” and I find Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez dangerous in that she promises a lot but cannot say how she plans to implement these socialist plans. She is just another Bernie Sanders who single-handedly destroyed this party with all his false promises.

          He split this party in two and now she is doing the same thing when it is crucial that we have a strong platform and stand together. Her story does not add up.

    5. Adam says:

      Under Socialism, food is just like dark humor.

      Not everyone gets it.

      • dannyboy says:

        As a political science expert, what explains the current widespread poverty, hunger, and food insecurity?

    6. Williamhraudenbush says:

      Denmark, Iceland, Norway, Sweden and Finland are the Democratic Socialist models Occasio is representing,

      Norway, for example, with their cradle-to-grave welfare and healthcare system and nearly impenetrable worker protections, still is more productive than the US with a per capita GDP of $70,000.00 after correction for the over dominance of the oil sector. Compare that with US per capita GDP of less than $60,000.00.

      Turns out, people work pretty hard when they are secure knowing they won’t be on the streets if god forbid they gets cancer despite working 40 hours a week.

      Our country has never before seen such a large wealth gap. I think those who criticize Occasio for being too far left are historically ignorant as to what birthed FDR’s new deal, and currently, the political rise of the only living generation set to be worse off financially throughout their lives than their parents (Milllenials) Thise sane young people are still largely stuck in the shadow of a completely preventable 2009 economic crash. Pretty sure they were the only adult generation alive on 2009 who had nothing to do with causing it. *cough*

      I hope Occasio’s critics are also champions of sensible financial regulations, of which we have almost none more than we had in 2008. I also hope they remember that a New England democrat named Joe Lieberman killed Medicare for all, and the hopes girbObama single payer. No nwonder the poorest and youngest, of which there are many in Ms. Occasio-Cortez’s district, are pushing their district’s politics leftward. Politicians who don’t offer solutions, will not get offered votes from the kinds of people most in need of substantive action to give them opportunities for basic security for their families in return for heir hard work. If the current system was working, you’d have never heard the name Occasio-Cortez.

    7. John says:

      When my relatives in NC ask how I can live here surrounded by all these “liberal” I just show them this page. The posters on here are usually just as reactionary as some of the Trumpists down home. Being in favor of Social Security and Medicare, two of her core positions, are hardly radical. Separating babies from their mothers and fathers, on the other hand, is.

      • ZoomZ says:

        Obama separated children fro parents for 8 long years.
        No one brought it up. It was OK to do so because saint Obama was doing it.
        Comes the devil himself – Trump – doing the same thing saint Obama did, and it’s the end of the world.

        • Sarah says:

          B.S.

          https://www.factcheck.org/2018/06/did-the-obama-administration-separate-families/

          There may have been occasional family separations in emergency situations (e.g., suspected trafficking), but it was not the policy of the administration. As the DHS secretary at the time said, “It’s not something that I could ask our Border Patrol or our immigration enforcement personnel to do.” Trump did it as a matter of systematic policy, he did it on purpose to hurt and scare people, and he STILL hasn’t fully complied with a court order to reunify families. IIRC, the last number I saw of kids still separated was around 500.

          Obama may not have been a saint (his immigration policy was not, in fact, great), but you’re going to have a hard time in this lifetime finding someone closer than Trump in sheer gratuitous cruelty to the devil.

          • ZoomZ says:

            B.S. right back at you Sarah.

            Obama was just as bad (some say good) as the devil Trump, but of course, he is Obama, and The Donald is evil, so lets not speak of truth, please, shall we?

    8. AC says:

      Spanish Latino Man here , , , Democratic party is going to implode if it continues to support Socialism. The future of the Democratic party is hinging on a young woman who is living in Utopia.

      Good Luck!

    9. eric dreyfuss says:

      strongly support all democratic socialism positions,,I feel that now there is at least some hope but will take some time to have a true democratic socialistic country with fairness and equality for all with the wealthy paying their fair share of taxes to accomplish all of this.This is a rich country and we can,should and will do all of this./I have just returned from California and most of the rich are excited and can’t wait to start paying their fair share

    10. steve says:

      the answer, my friend, is blowin in the wind.

    11. UWSGal says:

      AOC on how we are going to pay for her agenda

      “Uh…Um..yeah…so…um… like…”

      No thank you.

    12. Davie says:

      I won’t be voting for Jerry Nadler this November. He really doesn’t do that much for folks like me. He doesn’t help create new middle class jobs. He mostly just shows up for photo ops. I always wish that we could get someone to run against him in the Democratic Primary. Don’t you think it’s strange that he always gets re-elected without any real challengers? Think about it. Yes, I may be crazy, but you’re the ones that just keep putting him in office.

    13. Ben David says:

      Google: “CNN: The $40 trillion question Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez couldn’t answer” !!
      “Free stuff sounds great! But free stuff is almost never free.”

    14. Chris says:

      When will the socialists start seizing apartments over 1 million dollars?

    15. Catherine Brooks says:

      Great piece! Made me feel I was right there in the room with all the funny, odd, talking-over-each-other upper West Side neighbors we’re lucky to have taking today’s politics seriously Thanks for bringing the neighborhood alive.

    16. Pjay says:

      Not good to be seen w her… we aren’t socialists.? We all work hard& pay high taxes….