By Linnette Cruz 10th grade Journalist
No one has been able to shape the political spectrum of the public – or more specifically, in New York – in the past year more than Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (commonly referred to as AOC), the youngest-ever elected congresswoman in the House of Representatives. With just 31 years of age, she has become the second most talked-about politician in America, after Donald Trump. As a Bronx born and raised young Hispanic woman, she continues to raise the standards and make waves, putting up a tough fight against Trump and his GOP.
Representative Ocasio-Cortez began to attract recognition when she won the Democratic Party’s primary election for New York’s 14th congressional district on June 26, 2018, and has been striking fear among both Democrats and Republicans today. Less than a year ago from this upset win, AOC had been working as a bartender to help support her family. Before this, she worked with the late Ted Kennedy in his office, which allowed her to experience with her own two eyes the effect that the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) had on Latinx children being ripped away from their parents. Due to her own knowledge of being born into a working-class family, democratic socialist Ocasio-Cortez supports the abolishment of ICE and tighter gun-control laws, fights for the disenfranchised, and believes that healthcare is a human right. Her political ideologies make her particularly widespread among progressives looking for social reform.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez also has a significant appeal amidst younger votersand even those who still aren’t eligible to vote. How could this be? AOC is an excellent role model for millennials and Gen Z, managing to reach and inspire a group of like-minded individuals. She is an unapologetic woman of humble upbringing who is not afraid to stand up for herself and others, a true icon to which young people can look up to. Her thoughts and actions actively represent her generation, making them feel advocated for. She first caught millennial and Gen Z eyes with her emblematic speech in response to Rep. Ted Yoho calling Rep. Ocasio-Cortez “out of her freaking mind” on the steps of Capitol Hill, not to mention the other vulgarities she was referred to as. In a more recent example, AOC live-streamed herself playing Among Us, on the popular gaming platform Twitch to encourage young people to vote. This live-stream became one of the platform’s most-viewed streams of all time, clearly influencing the intended demographic. Regardless of the fact that AOC is not old enough to run for US President, many millennials and Gen Z are already planning to cast their ballots for the 31-year-old representative if she decides to run for office in 2024.
Just like Joe Biden to Barack Obama, forming bonds between colleagues in Washington D.C. is of typical occurrence. A new generation of non-white leftist advocates, all who have lived through the struggle of being born into working-class families and facing racial injustice, congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib (first Palestinian-American woman to serve in Congress), Ayanna Pressley (first African-American woman to be elected to Congress from Massachusetts), and Ilhan Omar (one of the first two Muslim women ever elected to the US Congress), are now being referred to as ‘The Squad’. As stated by Rep. Ayanna Pressley, they “are more than four people. We ran on a mandate to advocate for and to represent those ignored, left out, and left behind. Our squad is big. Our squad includes any person committed to creating a more equitable and just world.” These women continue to break headlines and put pressure on the Democratic Party leaders to hear their voices and create change.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and her Squad are the role models that young women and voters need. Their victories are proof that young voices do have the power to make a change in society. These women are all relatable icons that offer the presentation that many need today to feel encouraged. Their humble backgrounds offer hope that no matter where you come from, passion and transparency are the factors that truly attract people. Many simply cannot wait to see what the future has to offer and where they’ll make their mark in this world.