News & Politics

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Opinions About DC, Ranked

Is AOC right about our sandwiches, our Metro, and our rents?

Photograph by Evy Mages

As a sentient human being, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has opinions. And sometimes, those opinions are about DC.

On Friday, Ocasio-Cortez appeared on Showtime’s Desus & Mero to mercilessly lambast our poor, defenseless District for its lack of breakfast food and bodega cats. Naturally, Washington had some opinions on her opinions. This is not the first time the freshman Congresswoman from the Bronx has dug her nails into the perfection of our province on the Potomac, or the first time locals have taken to social media to assess her opinions.

You can’t find a good bacon, egg, and cheese here

What AOC said: “[It’s] impossible [to find a good BEC]…I don’t know how anybody eats in Washington, DC.”

How DC responded: From CNN’s Kyle Feldscher: AOC’s apartment building in DC is like a block from a Bethesda Bagels, which is wonderful. There’s a great coffee shop with an amazing breakfast sandwich across the street at the end of the block too.” 

It’s difficult to botch fried eggs, bacon, and cheese, so we’re going to assume the dividing line here is the quality of the carb. New Yorkers, we get it, you have incredible bagels. Consider this your unofficial “congrats for being good at your local delicacy” award. But not all our attempts at the breakfast that powers NYC are slop unworthy of human consumption. Bethesda Bagels, Call Your Mother, and Bullfrog Bagels all sling a deliciously greasy BEC. In fairness, Bullfrog and Bethesda both sell their sandwiches for around $5, and Call Your Mother’s will set you back $9.50. Not exactly economical for someone used to a $3 bodega protein kick. Plus, according to our in-house BEC expert, a “real” BEC is served on a kaiser roll.

Accuracy ranking: 2/5

There are no bodegas in DC

What AOC said: “DC, at least [in] Capitol Hill, does not really have a bodega culture.”

How DC responded: From Jake Kern: “What’s really lacking in DC is the volume of the establishments – there are GREAT bodegas in DC, but NYC has a bodega on every block. In DC they’re replaced with big box chains – the 7-11 at 5&K is a great example, their offerings will mirror a bodegas but they’re not neighbors.”

This rings pretty true for most of the city. Petworth, Columbia Heights, Adams Morgan, and Capitol Hill are all enclaves of the catch-all corner stores, but the rest of the District is reliant on Wawas and 7-Elevens, stuck with Cheeseburger Bites and weird miniature tacos for their late-night fix. And even in those aforementioned neighborhoods, just because it’s a market on the corner doesn’t mean it’s a bodega.

Accuracy ranking: 4/5

WMATA is pretty good

What AOC said: “DC Metro is pretty good, especially when compared to the MTA lately.”

How DC responded: From Neil Stevens: “You can tell she doesn’t depend on it to get to work every day. She’s like every other politician. She rides it occasionally, outside of rush hour, and thinks it’s wonderful.”

Okay, yes, the Metro is expensive if you have to travel a long way. And yes, there’s always some kind of construction on the weekends. And, yes, our tracks do catch on fire every now and then. But Washingtonians, WMATA has nothing on the dumpster fire that is the MTA, where only 25 percent of stations are wheelchair accessible, and car scents range from urine to gasoline. Among the world’s rapid transit systems, New York’s subway has the absolute worst on-time performance: around 80 percent of its riders arrive on time, as opposed to 90 percent here. And, if you’re still not convinced, watch this truly horrific video of a rat pole dancing on the NYC subway. We’re not perfect, but we’re doing okay.

Accuracy ranking: 4/5

DC has no affordable housing 

What AOC said: “I have three months without a salary before I’m a member of Congress. So, how do I get an apartment? Those little things are very real.”

How DC responded: From Morning Consult’s Eli Yokley: “This is real. Imagine giving up your job, not being able to be employed for 3 months and needing to secure a second place to live in one of the most expensive places in the country.”

A lethal combination of height limits, population growth, and good old-fashioned developer greed has left most lower-income Washingtonians paying through the nose or scrambling for a spot in group houses. However, while we have our horror stories (peep this $1.4k a month 9.5-by-28-foot Capitol Hill home), we’ve got nothing on Manhattan, where $900 a month will get you a literal closet. Plus, if you’re looking for affordable housing in the District, AOC’s Navy Yard neighborhood is not the place to hunt. Try Deanwood, Brookland and Takoma.

Accuracy ranking: 4/5 

DC should be a state.

What AOC said: “DC was the 1st territory in the United States to free the enslaved. It’s where Black Americans fled the tyranny of slavery & towards greater freedom, to DC. Yet today it’s where 2nd class citizenship reigns, and the right to vote is denied. It’s time to recognize DC statehood.”

How DC responded: From The Daily Beast’s Molly Jong-Fast: “Dc statehood and Puerto Rico statehood too.”

Preach. AOC can stay.

Accuracy ranking: 5/5

Jane Recker
Assistant Editor

Jane is a Chicago transplant who now calls Cleveland Park her home. Before joining Washingtonian, she wrote for Smithsonian Magazine and the Chicago Sun-Times. She is a graduate of Northwestern University, where she studied journalism and opera.

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