How have I never written about this brilliant queen before? Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez aka Rep. Ocasio-Cortez aka AOC is the representative for New York’s 14th Congressional District and my personal heroine (briefly mentioned in my International Women’s Day post) who won her election in November of 2018, making her the youngest woman ever to be elected to the House of Representatives. Rep. Ocasio-Cortez decided to run for office against ten-term incumbent Congressman Joe Crowley because she believed working people, especially lower income people of color, were not being represented by the centrist corporate Democrat (who now works with Republicans as a corporate lobbyist! Shocker!) and knew that her values were needed in the party. Crowley was a Goliath if she’d ever seen one, raising over $3 million during his primary campaign and garnering endorsements from New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, New York Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, Planned Parenthood, NARAL Pro-Choice America, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, and countless other big name corporations and organizations. Rep. Ocasio-Cortez herself raised just around $300,000 and was endorsed by progressive organizations like Black Lives Matter, MoveOn, Justice Democrats, and Democracy for America, while earning support from Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and the likes of gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon. Rep. Ocasio-Cortez ran her campaign while she was working as a bartender at a taqueria in Union Square, knocking on doors and keeping all of her campaign papers and donations in a paper grocery bag. No one expected her to win against such a force like Crowley, but Rep. Ocasio-Cortez’s platform truly spoke to both her constituents in the Bronx and Queens as well as people all across America. The Democratic Socialist Latina was the honest and courageous breath of fresh air the country needed, running on a platform of Medicare for All, Green New Deal, abolishing ICE, federal jobs guarantee, free public college, criminal justice reform, and a 70% marginal tax rate on the wealthy who earn over $10 million. So on June 26, 2018, she beat Crowley after receiving 57.13% of the votes to his 42.5%, which was named the biggest upset of string of 2018 elections. In the general election on November 6, she defeated Republican Anthony Pappas by a whopping margin of 78% to 14%, securing her seat in the freshman class of the 116th Congress.
Rep. Ocasio-Cortez grew up in Puerto Rican household in the Bronx to a small business owner father and a mother who cleaned houses and drove a school bus. As a high schooler, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez loved science, coming in second place in the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair’s Microbiology category with her project on effect of antioxidants on the lifespan of the nematode C. elegan. Because of her victory, the MIT Lincoln Laboratory named the 23238 Ocasio-Cortez asteroid after her. Rep. Ocasio-Cortez attended Boston University where she had a John F. Lopez Fellowship, interned in Senator Ted Kennedy’s office, and graduated cum laude in 2011 with a degree in economics and international relations. After her father passed away from lung cancer in 2008, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez began waiting tables and working as a bartender to help her mother stay afloat and save their home. After graduation, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez moved back to the Bronx where she worked as an educational director, founded Brook Avenue Press– a publishing firm that published books about the Bronx, and worked for the National Hispanic Institute before landing a job with Senator Bernie Sanders’ team during his 2016 presidential campaign.
Since she was sworn in to the House of Representatives on January 3, 2019, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez has shaken the government to its core. She, along with other fearless and inspiring freshmen Congresswomen Rashida Tlaib (MI-13), Ilhan Omar (MN-5), and Ayanna Pressley (MA-7) have brought voices to the table that weren’t previously heard by the likes of centrist Democrats Chuck Schumer and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, who have spent most of their careers in politics and have more money to their names than most Americans would ever see in their lifetimes. Having working class representatives actually representing the needs and desires of their constituents put these women in the spotlight for attacks from Democrats and Republicans alike. However, none of these vicious verbal tirades are slowing Rep. Ocasio-Cortez down as she’s made quite a name for herself in the House in such a short period of time. As a member of the Committee on Financial Services and the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, AOC has given her fair share of brilliantly planned rounds of questioning and arguing in committee hearings as shown here:
Rep. Ocasio-Cortez is not afraid to call out bullshit when she sees it and addresses injustices and corruption head on. I’m sure we would all like to believe that our representatives are constantly working to make a better world for us all, but that’s obviously not the case. Politicians like M*tch McConnell and Linds*y Graham are two of the biggest names in Republican politics today and they’ve shown time and time again that they’re not fighting for Americans, but for themselves and their better interests (they’re also white supremacists, but one issue at a time right?). Instead of re-electing people who do not give a shit about their constituents, it’s important that we uplift leaders like Rep. Ocasio-Cortez who shines in committee meetings and hearings while allowing everyday people to witness what their political leaders are engaging in through her smart use of social media. Whether she’s taking us on a tour of her congressional office on IG TV, cooking dinner and discussing policies on Instagram live, or tweeting photos of her ice cream after work, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez has mastered the art of using social media in an engaging and professional way. Although she’s only been in office for less than a year, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez has given me, and I’m sure many other women of color hope. She represents a future of possibilities where our leaders can look like us and fight tooth and nail for us, acting as a surrogate big sister/superhero who gives no f*cks while also giving all the f*cks. I don’t live in New York (yet…2020 come quicker!) and I’m not running for office (yet…), but knowing that strong and smart women like Rep. Ocasio-Cortez, Rep. Tlaib, Rep. Omar, and Rep. Pressley are standing up for all of us in their seats at the table makes me believe that not all hope is lost for the future and one day, I’ll be able to vote for a woman who looks like me for our President (AOC 2024!).