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Ralph Nader > Special Features > Letter to AOC 7.31.20

July 31, 2020

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
229 Cannon House Office Building
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515-3214

Dear Representative Ocasio-Cortez,

Your going to the floor of the House of Representatives to take to task Representative Ted Yoho for his disgusting and sexist epithet following your exchange with him exposed to a national audience the range of such foul talk by more than a few male members of the House. Words matter for they often clothe wrongful attitudes and the conditions behind them.

You are in the eye of the mass media – deservedly so. But such an asset for communicating your actions, policies, and observations may not last very long. At least that is often the history of authentic political figures who take on entrenched interests even from elected office. Ever-higher expectations for your work toward a more just society invites the following suggestions.

Consider three actions to address official inertia and wrongdoing that you could take.

First, the savage sexual predator in the White House, Donald J. Trump – has engaged in more than boastful misogynistic language. He has sexually abused and assaulted many women and repeatedly lied and publicly vilified his victims in the process. As you know, tort lawsuits filed by some of these women are pending in the courts. The MeToo constituency has the opportunity to make Trump’s predatory behavior an issue in this year’s presidential campaign. However, the media and civic groups have failed to continue to make Trump’s deplorable behavior an issue. So has Congress, including both female and male Democratic legislators. In early February, we hand-delivered personally the enclosed letter to nearly 100 House Democratic members, including all 89 Democratic women House Representatives. The staff was more than courteous in receiving what amounted to a documented petition to have a House Committee investigate this deeply rapacious behavior. This “abuse of the public trust,” in our Founders language, by Mr. Trump should not be ignored.

I delivered the letter directly to your office. Not one of the nearly 100 members, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi, even bothered to respond. The lack of response resulted, not surprisingly, in no media coverage by any of 20 reporters, columnists, and editors in the mass media who had previously covered Trump’s brutish assaults. Is he too terrible to hold accountable?

Don’t you think it is worthy of a House Committee’s time to investigate a pattern of behavior that is a destructive role model for boys and young men – as Trump continues to get away with what a small fraction of such transgressions have cost Congressional Democratic Senator Al Franken and Congressman John Conyers?

Second, the New York Times reported a few days ago your demand for Governor Andrew Cuomo to adopt, with the legislature, a “billionaires’ tax” to help a deficit-ridden New York bolster the state’s social safety net. Political observers don’t expect action on this proposal. On the other hand, the New York Public Interest Group (NYPIRG), one of the leading student advocacy groups in American history, assembled a diverse coalition of 50 civic groups and held a press briefing led by NYPIRG director Blair Horner on May 28, 2020. Your office was sent their persuasive media release (see attached) demanding that Governor Cuomo stop rebating some $40 million a day from the tiny stock transfer sales taxes that the state collects and electronically sends back to Wall Street brokers.

This rebated progressive sales tax is well known to state and Congressional legislators. There was no response from you or your staff or from any other members of the N.Y Congressional Delegation. Given NY state’s $16 billion budget deficit this year, the estimated $16 billion in rebated tax revenues could help provide assistance to struggling communities statewide. Isn’t this worth your immediate attention?

Please take the lead here and help shine your media spotlight on something critically important to illuminate.

Third, you’ll remember how President Trump violated the “speech and debate clause,” in our Constitution when he pressed Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu to bar the entry of two members of Congress traveling to Israel and the Palestinian West Bank in the exercise of their Constitutionally protected oversight duties. At the time we urged the excluded Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, to make more of this impeachable offense – unprecedented in American history, according to two constitutional law specialists. Our letter (attached) to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, similar ones to you and other members of the House, went unanswered, except for a call from Rep. Tlaib’s office. You can still send Mr. Trump a stiff written warning to never try this again with many members of the House co-signing. Otherwise, Trump will just add this to his lengthy list of impeachable offenses that the Democrats let him get away with, absent even an official condemnation to also deter such dictatorial behavior by succeeding Presidents.

Were you and the class of 2018 in the Democratic camp more connected from the outset with national progressive citizen groups on a regular basis, meeting with them in your offices, listening to their recommendations, the above three actions might not have been neglected. Right after the 2018 election, I wrote the attached column putting forth several tests that would determine how serious the Congressional newcomers were about getting fundamental neglected actions underway, not just saying the right words and issuing good public statements. History shows that legislators cannot get much done without the close engagement of the civic community (e.g. civil rights and environmental groups, unions) and the civic community can’t get any laws or public hearings without the legislators. Social Justice causes require regular close cooperation, consultation, and open acknowledgment of such to persuade the media that these civic groups have a power base in Congress and vice-versa. Alas, this was not done, with few exceptions, not even by the heralded “Squad.”

We welcome your considered response to each of the above suggestions, notwithstanding many months of unsuccessful striving to connect and having you and others respond to matters of contemporary importance. These include matters of war and peace, and of White House constitutional, statutory and treaty violations (see attached list of 12 impeachable offenses we assembled that were placed in the Congressional Record by Congressman John Larson, December 18, 2019.) Eleven offenses were completely set aside by your Party’s leadership, including some strongly recommended for action by the House Judiciary Committee.

Thank you.

For Peace and Justice,
Ralph Nader

Attachments.