She’s not shy. And she’s not afraid to ruffle a few feathers. Since taking office in January 2019, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (also known by her initials, AOC) has stepped to the plate with bold policy proposals, even as she uses social media to demonstrate her lighthearted side. She’s part of a wave of unapologetically liberal freshmen dedicated to bringing a fresh perspective to Washington, DC—and shaking things up in the process.
The youngest woman ever elected to Congress, Ocasio-Cortez is the US Representative for New York’s 14th congressional district. In the 2018 midterm election primaries, she unseated the 10-term incumbent, Joe Crowley, a stunning upset victory that brought her into the spotlight. Now that she’s in Washington, her progressive platform continues to grab headlines. A central issue for the congresswoman? Climate change. And she doesn’t mince words.
In a January MLK Now event interview with Ta-Nehisi Coates, Ocasio-Cortez called the fight to reduce the effects of climate change her generation’s “World War II.” If she got blowback for her comments, Ocasio-Cortez doesn’t take the faultfinding personally. In fact, she got so used to verbal (and written) attacks during her congressional campaign that she’s even developed a bit imitating her critics: “We’re not scared of you,” she’ll say in a nasal voice. “We’re laughing at you!”
But AOC is poised to get the last laugh, even when condemnation gets ugly or borders on the surreal. In a January tweet that included a video of a college-aged Ocasio-Cortez dancing, AnonymousQ1776 opined, “Here is America’s favorite commie know-it-all acting like the clueless nitwit she is.” Ocasio-Cortez’s response? She posted a new video of her dancing outside her Capitol Hill office. “I hear the GOP thinks women dancing [is] scandalous. Wait till they find out Congresswomen dance too! Have a great weekend everyone,” she tweeted. She’s unbowed, in other words, with a worldview perhaps best summed up by her response to another critical tweet, this one about her wardrobe: “Dark hates light—that’s why you tune it out,” she posted. “Shine bright & keep it pushing.”
Indeed, Ocasio-Cortez keeps it pushing as she brings passion and commitment to the table. “[A]s you climb up this ladder, you should be contributing more,” Ocasio-Cortez said in a January interview with Anderson Cooper for 60 Minutes. She was referring to her proposed tax on the wealthiest Americans, which Ocasio-Cortez suggests could fund a “Green New Deal” addressing climate change. When Cooper commented that the freshman congresswoman’s agenda is radical, Ocasio-Cortez was happy to agree.
“Abraham Lincoln made the radical decision to sign the Emancipation Proclamation. Franklin Delano Roosevelt made the radical decision to embark on establishing programs like Social Security,” she said. “If that’s what radical means, call me a radical.”
And, most recently, during a House Oversight Committee hearing in early February, Ocasio-Ortiz highlighted the need for campaign finance reform in what has been called her “Corruption Game” speech. A video of the speech has since gone viral, and on February 12, Newsweek reported that according to a video analytics firm, the video had become “the most viewed video of any politician in Twitter history.” Ruffling a few feathers, indeed.
Janice Deal is a writer, an editor, and a lover of found objects. Her short-story collection, The Decline of Pigeons (Queen’s Ferry Press, 2013), was a finalist for the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction. Her first novel, The Sound of Rabbits, was recently named a finalist in the Many Voices Project Prose competition. Janice lives in Downers Grove, Illinois, with her husband, daughter, and three disreputable cats.
Please feel free to contact us with any comments or questions.