Fecteau: Ocasio-Cortez Victory Shows The American Dream Lives On


On June 26th, 2018, I regained some of my optimism in our political system when Ms. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez won her Democratic Primary in New York City.

When we elected President Barack Obama, I never could have been more proud of our wonderful country. I felt that we have come so far, and there was no turning back. This was a miracle.

With the election of President Donald Trump, I felt sick. I couldn’t believe we elected a man whose platform is that of race-baiting, sexism, and divisiveness. I became much more skeptical and cynical as a person who aspires to make the world a better place.

Part of my skepticism stemmed from the past. I was the Ocasio-Cortez in 2014. Our movement took on another establishment politician named Congressman David Cicilline (D-RI), with a similar platform. Cicilline had the organization, the money, and the name recognition. He took generously from the corporate interests I so despised while lying about his progressive agenda.

Remembrance of Things Past

Just like Ocasio-Cortez, the odds were stacked against our campaign. No one would talk to us. The Democratic Party rigged the system against us. We were even laughed out of certain events. I lost my election with a strong return, but came away with a grim realization: money buys elections.

Since then, I was concerned the American dream was on life support, if not simply dead. Someone shouldn’t need millions of dollars to run for office. But the ugly truth is that you do.

I was working doing some volunteer work on a sister Congressional campaign of another upstate in Brooklyn, New York named Adem Bunkeddeko. I met him briefly at Harvard a couple times and he is a decent person that I thought could change the world. While staying in Queens, I remember Ocasio-Cortez as a candidate I met once briefly. She was sincere, very articulate, and inspiring; a decent person too. I didn’t think she had a shot in this political environment.

On that election night, I couldn’t believe what I saw. Ocasio-Cortez unseated one of the most powerful, establishment Democrats in the country, U.S. Congressman Joe Crowley (D-NY). Her election was meaningful to people like me that are more cynical about politics than ever; that seemingly lost hope in a political system hijacked by corporate interests. I am not so naïve as to believe that Ocasio-Cortez’s victory will solve all our problems. But it is a start.

Dare To Dream

No, Ocasio-Cortez’s election won’t solve all the woes facing our great country.  There is such pervasive poverty, healthcare is too expensive, and mass shootings are pervasive as ever.

However, her election goes a long way to show the United States is still a place of miracles. America is still place where anything is still possible even if a political candidate has little money in the bank. Nowhere else in the world could something like this be conceivable.

Ocasio-Cortez’s past makes a statement all itself. Ocasio-Cortez was a simple waiter just a year before running for office. She had never ran for office before. She was an underdog against a better-funded, better-organized, and well-known Democrat.

Ocasio-Cortez ran on a ticket of authenticity, genuineness, and hope. She showed the people of New York and the United States that elected office is not an entitlement. Just because you have millions in the bank, that doesn’t mean you can buy an election even. She proved people like me so wrong.

The Ocasio-Cortez victory was a slap in the face to the crooked Democratic and Republican establishment that thinks it can simply buy elections using corporate money. She has proven that no incumbent is safe, despite their fast fortune. While this is just one victory against a failed establishment, this victory is the light shining in the darkness. It shows all of us that the United States is still a land of opportunity and a country where miracles are still possible–even if Mr. Trump is still our president.


Matthew Fecteau
Matt Fecteau of Pawtucket, Rhode Island is a graduate of the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and an Iraq War veteran. Send him email at Matthew.Fecteau@gmail.com