Ocasio-Cortez sets new standards

What congress should look like

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Ocasio-Cortez sets new standards

(Flickr Creative Commons: Dimitri Rodriguez

(Flickr Creative Commons: Dimitri Rodriguez

(Flickr Creative Commons: Dimitri Rodriguez

(Flickr Creative Commons: Dimitri Rodriguez

By Chloe Lindahl, Collegian Columnist

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A few months ago, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez beat out incumbent Joseph Crowley in a resounding victory, making her one of the youngest women to ever be elected to Congress. Crowley was one of the most powerful Democrats in the House of Representatives. Crowley represented Queens County and seemed the ideal democratic choice and one of the top fundraisers in office. Despite all of that, Ocasio-Cortez won in a landslide victory, a result Crowley’s polls did not see coming.

The win was believed to be the beginning of a generational change in voters. Although Crowley had gone almost two decades running unopposed, Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign brought out a new wave of voters who often didn’t find the hassle of voting worth it. Young people and elderly people alike were inspired by the message Ocasio-Cortez put forward and her promise of change and proper representation. Her campaign was run by volunteers and public fundraising where she was able to get the funds together to produce a two-minute campaign video called “The courage to change.” The video features clips of her interacting with the public, volunteering at schools, giving speeches and taking the subway home. The video has racked up over 800,000 views since it was originally posted. In the video, Ocasio-Cortez states, “it’s time we acknowledge not all Democrats are the same, that a Democrat who takes corporate money, profits off foreclosure, who doesn’t live here, doesn’t send his kids here, doesn’t drink our water or breathe our air, cannot possible represent us.” It’s an “us for them” mentality, they have money, but we can have the power as long as we reach out and take it. Ocasio-Cortez is a breath of fresh air for the underrepresented people who are tired of the backwards antics of politics.

Of course, it helps that Crowley hardly took Ocasio-Cortez seriously, allowing her to gain more admiration as he relied too heavily on his long-standing presence in office. Crowley failed to show up to the first two debates with Ocasio-Cortez, letting an empty chair with just his nametag and New York City lawmaker Annabel Palmer to represent him. It wasn’t until the third debate that he bothered to show up and even then, he hardly took her seriously. Nevertheless, she hit him with question after question and made sure to explain her own plan. The victor was clear by the end of the debate.

Ocasio-Cortez is a rare breed of politician in several ways. She refuses to accept corporate money, she believes in Medicare for everyone, tuition-free public colleges and a strong stance on immigration rights. She’s a politician for the people, something that’s unfortunately, not seen often anymore. She also resonates with millennials and the younger generation allowing her to utilize skills such as social media to her utmost advantage; her Twitter feed alone has 3.2 million followers. The other day, for example, she was a guest on Stephen Colbert’s Late Night Show where he asked her “on a scale from zero to some, how many f—’s do you give about such comments,” referring to a previous comment made by fellow Democrats who told her to “ ‘wait your turn, go slow, don’t ask for so much so fast right now.” Ocasio-Cortez responded, “I think zero.” The next day headlines for the Hill read “Ocasio-Cortez: I give zero f—’s about pushback from other Democrats.” Ocasio-Cortez responded to the headline by tweeting “I actually didn’t say this, so while I know ‘brown women cursing’ drives clicks, maybe you accurately quote the whole exchange instead of manipulating people into thinking I said this sentence instead of just the word ‘zero.’” The New York Post also ran a similar headline and included an angry photo of her on the show backing up their depicted image of her as an angry minority woman. She made sure to set the record straight on Twitter once again tweeting “….This is how news hysteria develops out of nothing at all.” Ocasio-Cortez’s ability to use social media in this day and age gives her a powerful tool and gives news outlets printing false information a formidable opponent.

It’s not only her social media image that gives her a unique perspective in politics but her socialist outlooks and passion for particular issues. One stance she’s particularly passionate about is global warming and the green deal. Ocasio-Cortez, along with the Sunrise movement and Justice Democrats, “put together a new deal for achieving net zero-carbon emissions by 2030 guaranteeing everyone a good job and providing target investments in low income communities and communities of color. That means upgrading every building and mode of transportation in this country and upgrading our entire power grid to achieve maximal energy efficiency.” This is the best plan for global warming to ever be put forth in this country.

Ocasio-Cortez has risen above and beyond her call of work. She called out corrupt politicians, has taken a stance against corporate America, proposed deals to help the environment and broken barriers for who is “supposed to run for Congress.” She was a hard-working woman from the Bronx who used her intellect, education and community to force change and is totally and unapologetically herself. That’s why Congress needs more people like her filling its seats.

Chloe Lindahl is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at [email protected]