A new name has begun circulating the nation after the news of a young woman, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, came out victorious in the 2018 primary against Joseph Crowley, the 4th Democrat in the Congressional House, who also, was thought to be the next Nancy Pelosi.
Ocasio-Cortez, often known by her initials AOC, appeared to many as a pleasant surprise. Only 28 years old at the time of her campaign, she made her debut appearance to the world.
Prior to this, what fueled her interest in politics was her internship for Bernie Sanders’ Presidential campaign in 2016. From then on, she was set on a mission for change.
She has publicly expressed her support and push for progression for immigrants, women, the youth, other minorities, and in general, for modern change. She identifies as a Democratic-Socialist whose main purpose is to advocate for several ideas: 1. the Green New Deal, the plan tackling climate change, 2. Medicare for All, providing all with support in any health related endeavors, 3. a federal jobs guarantee, the insurance that all will be provided a job by the government, and 4. most especially, the abolishment of ICE, in efforts to keep families together.
Being born and raised in a low income Puerto Rican family in Bronx, New York, she faced adversity regularly. Her mother cleaned houses and her father owned his own architectural business.
In 2008, while Ocasio-Cortez was just a teenager, her father died of lung cancer. This placed their family in an enormous amount of financial stress, especially as it struck during the national recession.
Ocasio-Cortez took on several simultaneous low wage jobs to get by. She was a waitress and bartender, among other jobs.
Despite this, she went to Boston University, class of 2011. She majored in economics and international relations. This was around the time where she interned for Sanders’ campaign and was exposed to the up close national struggles, specifically the heartbreak of the separation of families in the ICE system.
She is applauded for being the youngest woman in Congress ever. However, what caused her to receive so much attention was not only her background, but what she stood for.
Many of the younger generations, particularly “Generation Z”, feel and believe that she is speaking for the people, agreeing with her progressive thinking.
“I know when I was growing up, I didn’t see any women like me in positions of leadership. And so when you’re only seeing white dudes just like, running the world, you think you need to act like a white dude to run the world,” said Ocasio-Cortez.
Her age as well as her thinking attracts more and more people.
“What really made her stick out to me is how relatable she was, she just seems more down to Earth. She is like someone that you could talk to,” commented Kaylin Keithely (11).
What really sparked the mass’ interest, specifically towards women empowerment, was her argument with Representative Ted Yoho, more notably her response.
In argument with Ocasio-Cortez, Yoho found it incredibly shocking how she believes the spike in poverty and homelessness aids towards the increase in crime rate in New York City. Frustrated, he called out several sexist slurs directed towards her.
In response, Ocasio-Cortez inducted a speech that rallied women everywhere to her side.
“It is a culture of a lack of impunity, of acceptance of violence and violent language against women, an entire structure of power that supports that,” Ocasio-Cortez stated after describing the normality of women receiving such disrespect and abuse on the daily.
Nevertheless, with any public figure comes the controversy. For AOC, her age strikes a harsh slander to her reputation. Many believe her to be too young and ambitious to be so outspoken.
In fact, when asked if the praise she is receiving is deserving, student Ryan Sanders (11), went against the majority’s opinion.
“I think she is bright, but not practical for the best interest of the U.S. economy and people,” said Sanders.
Sanders is not alone in this belief. Patriot Alyana Santillana (11) agrees with Keithley and in that AOC is a great role model for future politicians and young girls everywhere, but she does not believe in the reason behind her motions.
“While I do think her progressive values are deserving of attention, as they can foreshadow the future of government, I do think her policies regarding climate change and economics leave a little to be desired,” added Santillana.
Controversial or not, there is not doubt in that AOC has created a frenzy within society. An inspiration to many. Threat to others. The name Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez will remain a prominent household name in the present and future of politics.