by Sarah Whitman
She’s everywhere: making buzz at the water cooler, taking over news headlines, up and down your Instagram feed, and definitely on the nerves of more than a few establishment politicians. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is taking over. This political force of nature, also known as AOC, is the newly-elected 29-year-old Congresswoman from the Bronx who is unapologetically stirring up Washington D.C. There’s a lot to say about this badass lady, but let’s start from the beginning.
Ocasio-Cortez first made headlines after she beat Democratic incumbent Joe Crowly in the primary election for New York’s 14th Congressional District. TBH, we don’t think Crowly paid much attention to the challenge of a self-proclaimed Democratic-Socialist, but he lost and very graciously endorsed Ocasio-Cortez and continued to support her throughout her candidacy.
This win pushed AOC into the limelight. Challengers so rarely beat incumbents in the primary, especially frontrunners like Joe Crowley who are viewed favorably in the party (in fact, he was poised to become Speaker of the House if he won). This defeat was the first symbol of the shake-up that would unfold in Congress, including the youngest and most diverse freshman class we’ve ever seen.
AOC embodies exactly what millennials want out of their politicians. She’s become a celebrity, and not just with political junkies like us. Her campaign jumpstarted with a 2-minute video (approximately the attention span of the under-40 crowd) introducing herself and what she’s going to fight for. She continued to demonstrate her social media prowess throughout her campaign and is now giving Americans an inside look into the life of a Congressperson through her Instagram stories. She’s making a concerted effort to be as transparent as possible and hosts Instagram lives so people can ask her questions while she’s talking. She’s also the queen of Twitter clap backs.
AOC ran on an extremely progressive platform, including policies like Medicare for all, fully funded public schools and universities, universal jobs and housing guarantee, criminal justice reform and marijuana decriminalization, and abolishing ICE. One of her biggest policy initiatives is the Green New Deal (which SameSide is supporting). The Green New Deal would create new jobs by implementing a 100% renewable energy system to the U.S. by 2035. The idea is based on the original New Deal, implemented by FDR in 1933 to combat the Great Depression. Additionally, The Green New Deal creates public works jobs with the specific intent of fighting climate change.
So why have we been hearing so much about AOC? Well, first of all, she’s freaking great. She is unabashedly herself, which includes wearing an all-white pantsuit, bright red lipstick, and huge hoops to her swearing in. Like, yes put me on that level hunny. She often talks about how someone like her isn’t supposed to be in Congress, and yet, here she is making politics cool again. Second, she’s pushing policy pretty far to the left. Recently she floated the idea of a 70% top tax on the wealthy, which would finance the Green New Deal program. Ocasio-Cortez is not afraid to call out the wealthy and believes that billionaires should not exist when “exist when there are parts of Alabama where people are still getting ringworm because they don’t have access to public health.” Her stances are bold, but more importantly, they’re clear. Whether you’re with her or against her, you have no question where she stands. And in a Washington intoxicated by corporate interests and PAC money, it’s refreshing to see someone wipe away the fog.
The real reason you probably see AOC so often in the headlines...the establishment HATES her. Pundits have called her out for everything from dancing in college to being the most dangerous person in America. Yes, seriously - and it’s not just the far-right. According to a recent Politico story, established Representatives in the Democratic Caucus have called her out for voting against the Democratic bill to end the shutdown (because it included funding for I.C.E., which was a key pillar of her campaign) and saying she will back primary challengers if the incumbent Democrat seems too moderate.
This young, vibrant, woman of color has come into Congress with the mindset to get sh*t done. And she’s not taking no for an answer. She answers every criticism with grace and poise and continues to garner support. We can’t wait to see what kind of things she’ll accomplish.
Photo by Win McNamee from Allure