AOC: Redefining American Politics For The Powerless

Straightforward, unusual and steadfast: at 28 years old, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is the youngest woman in the Chamber of Representatives.  Her origins, untamed nature and enthusiastic personality unequivocally define her slogan: “Women like me aren’t supposed to run for Congress.”

Aside from her bold political position and historical achievement, the Bronx representative has established a singular example. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez shows that with opportunities, effort and determination, the disenfranchised now have hope in politics.

[Sarah Silbiger NYT / Redux]

AOC is exceptional in rejecting the ‘big money machine’. The numbers speak for themselves: 98% of her campaign was from individual donations. This contrasts with a paltry 27% of Joseph Crowley’s, her progressive and high-ranking Democrat district rival.

Ocasio pledges Americans “are not going to beat big money with big money. We are going to beat big money with a great organization.” And so, she did.

Donations under $200 added 61% of Ocasio’s fundraising, and merely 0.71% of Crowley’s. For an underdog district, her words, affiliations and feats are more attuned to its needs. Unlike him, she has declined donations from banks, insurance, and real estate PACs incoherent with her political goals.

[Kainaz Amaria/Vox]

Her origins gave her a silver lining: purpose and determination to knowingly represent the working class she comes from. Her Puerto-Rican family moved to privileged Yorktown Heights to find her quality education unavailable in the Bronx, where she was born.

Loans and scholarships later, she secured a degree from Boston College in Economics and International Relations, after switching halfway through. Her father’s death without a will motivated the change, as she struggled with her mother to maintain the small family business and home in the 2008 recession.

Upon graduation, Alexandria worked as a barwoman and waitress to pay her student debt and support her mother, who cleaned houses and drove buses. Her life-built manifesto is to create a society in which no one is too poor to live or succeed.

[Getty Images]

Ocasio-Cortez advocates for high-quality education, a $15 minimum wage, government-guaranteed employment, a single-payer universal healthcare system, and a Green New Deal. She is a Socialist Democrat alike Bernie Sanders, whose campaign she helped organize.

Her core political goals are social, economic and environmental justice to provide for all Americans. Bernie Sanders’ campaign and the Standing Rock movement helped define her principles. These have translated to her advocacy of a Green New Deal. Her courage led her to equate border imprisonment of children to concentration camps, with support from experts.

Despite criticism, she has sparked change and pursued meaningful political debate. These astounding feats and ambitions are only possible by her refusal to be bought by wealthy interests. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s economic integrity and ideological coherence allow her to remain clear, loud-voiced and independent.

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images]

AOC’s story offers a ray of democratic hope for the politically marginalized – particularly Hispanics, young people, women and the working class. By making history, persisting against unlikely odds and creating a community-based platform, her story inspires us to do more than to fight our own battles. She has proved it is possible to succeed in American politics with integrity. Her courage and success energize political participation.

As the youngest congresswoman in history, inspiring the powerless to hope for more in politics is truly her greatest legacy.

As the youngest congresswoman in history, inspiring the powerless to hope for more in politics is truly her greatest legacy.

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