Susan Sarandon Leads Protest Against Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez & Other Progressives

Actress Susan Sarandon poses for photographs at an event.
Gettyimages | Theo Wargo
US Politics

When Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan got elected to Congress in 2018, they vowed to fight for working class Americans and change the Democratic Party from within.

This election cycle, Jamaal Bowman of New York, Cori Bush of Missouri and several others joined the so-called squad, expanding its influence in the House of Representatives.

Unhappy with the progress the squad has made in advancing left-wing policies, progressives this week organized protests, per Salon, and actress Susan Sarandon led one of them.

Medicare for All

Above all, activists have urged Ocasio-Cortez and other progressives to force a vote on Medicare for All, the single-payer universal healthcare policy popularized by Independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Ocasio-Cortez and other House progressives have refused to use their leverage, however, letting right-leaning Democrats control the chamber.

Members of the squad also voted for Nancy Pelosi -- who remains opposed to progressive policies -- as speaker, without demanding concessions or a floor vote on Medicare for All.

Activists also claim that Ocasio-Cortez and others should have pressured President Joe Biden to expand Medicare amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Susan Sarandon

Sarandon led the protest outside Ocasio-Cortez's Bronx office. During her speech, Sarandon reminded the congresswoman that she had promised to fight for universal healthcare.

"I'm here to say to the squad, and especially AOC, who, you know, did make a lot of promises, that we still have faith in you and we would like to see if you have a better plan than we've been able to see, please share it.

"If there's a pathway you've got that we're not aware of, please share it. Because we're losing hope here that you represent us," Sarandon added.

Watch Sarandon's Speech Below

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, Congress passed several relief bills that were meant to help Americans handle the unprecedented crisis, but none of them expanded Medicare.

Biden, for his part, said last year that he would veto Medicare for All and he has refused to use executive authority to improve access to healthcare for 30 million Americans who lack it.

Sarandon said it was "very disheartening" to see progressive lawmakers ignore activists.

"It's so difficult for people that are independent to get elected in the first place and then to see the very people that sponsored the bill not stand up for it, is very disheartening," she said.

Squad Has Faced Other Criticism

Democratic New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez delivers a speech.
Gettyimages | Brittany Greeson

Ocasio-Cortez and other progressives have also been criticized for refusing to oppose new funding for Capitol police, after spending months arguing that police departments across the country need to be defunded if not abolished.

"AOC and two other Squad members -- who spent months chanting 'Defund the Police' -- had the power to stop this," Pulitzer-prize winning reporter Glenn Greenwald wrote on Twitter, referring to the bill that provided more funding.

"They originally agreed to vote 'no,' but instead voted 'present' at the last minute to avoid angering Pelosi," Greenwald added.