Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, 29, was sworn in as the congresswoman for New York's 14th congressional district on Jan. 3. The new representative and the youngest woman to ever be elected into Congress is a unique addition to that chamber.
AOC is a progressive member of the Democratic Socialists of America and was an organizer for the Bernie Sanders campaign.
She shockingly defeated the longstanding Democratic incumbent, Joseph Crowley, in the primary elections with a strong social media presence and backing by national progressives. The last time Crowley had been challenged in a primary was in 2004.
She easily won the general election on Nov. 6 against Republican Anthony Pappas.
Her district encompasses parts of Queens and the Bronx where she grew up. She was raised by working class Puerto Rican parents. After the death of her father, AOC worked multiple minimum-wage restaurant jobs to fill the financial void. Before her campaign she was working as a bartender in Manhattan.
AOC claims she speaks for marginalized Americans because she is young, female, an ethnic minority and not rich. She also proclaimed her war on big money’s influence in politics.
Her campaign ad starts “Women like me aren’t supposed to run for office.”
In 2016, New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a Democrat, told The New York Times, “Women are the biggest self-doubters” when it comes to running for office.
AOC’s plans according to her campaign website reach far left. Agendas including: housing as a human right, Medicare for all, $15 minimum wage, “strictest gun laws in the country,” abolition of ICE, and tuition-free public colleges and trade schools among a slew of other radical proposals will be supported by AOC’s plan to raise taxes on the “super rich” to 70, 80, and 90 percent.
The economic implications and risks of her grand socialist plans are main talking points of some of her detractors. Her hard-left, us vs. them rhetoric is also a point of contingency. Donald Trump said last week at a rally in El Paso, Texas, “Too many Democrats are focused on tearing down their opposition instead of building up our country.”
Bill Gates said to The Verge, “You do start to create tax dodging and disincentives, and the incentive to have incomes show up in other countries and things. But we can be more progressive …”
Following backlash by AOC and her supporters in Queens, Amazon recently abandoned plans to build a second headquarters in New York City that was projected to employ 25,000 people within the next 10 years.
Her “Green New Deal” plans to phase out all non-renewable energy sources by 2035, raising the costs of electricity. AOC warned that “the world is going to end in 12 years if we don’t address climate change.” She added, “This is our World War II.”
Far left ideas could be pushing more people to the right, or the politics of Trump could be forcing liberals to embrace absolutely left ideas; political analysts are torn. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is important because she could be a sign of a shift in Democratic politics.