7 Reasons Why AOC May Make America a Better Place
By Shahed Ezaydi
In 2021, it’s a pretty safe bet that you’ve probably heard the name Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, or the initials ‘AOC’, which is how she is commonly referred to. The Democrat that took US politics by storm in the 2018 midterm election not only was the youngest woman ever to be elected into congress (aged 29) but also, defeated the 10-term incumbent, Joe Crowley. A huge political upset for Crowley, who was once seen as a possible Democratic leader of the House. AOC is the whole package, and the world is watching. Here are 7 reasons why we love her, and why we think she may actually help make America a better place.
She is the people
AOC was elected to represent New York’s 14th District in January 2019. A district that covers parts of The Bronx and Queens, the former being where AOC was born and raised. She was raised in a working-class family, where her father owned a small architecture business, and her mother cleaned houses. She went on to study international relations and economics at Boston University. Before being elected to congress, and even during her campaign, AOC worked as a waitress; and even though this fact has been used against her by some Republicans, she is unashamedly proud of her background and believes voters see themselves in her. Her working-class background contributed to how she saw the world politically, but her father’s death, in her second year at university, also played a huge role. AOC has previously said her father’s death, and the subsequent financial troubles, really helped shape her political views on healthcare and the economy.
2) She believes in healthcare for all
And her words definitely do match up with her actions as a congresswoman so far. AOC is a firm advocate for Medicare for All, a universal single-payer healthcare system where every person would have access to healthcare. It’s a policy introduced by Bernie Sanders and formed a key part of both his 2016 and 2020 presidential campaigns. The political stances of both AOC and Sanders are quite similar, hence why AOC endorsed Sanders for the Democratic presidential nomination. She’s also consistently criticised the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, saying it failed her and everyone around her.
3) She fights for the rights of immigrants
AOC has been very vocal about immigration and is a fierce advocate for the rights of immigrants. As the representative of one of the most diverse districts in the US, it’s an issue close to her heart. She made abolishing the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) one of her top policies in her election campaign. Even going as far as to criticising members of her own party for their support or neutrality when it came to ICE. In June 2019, AOC co-sponsored the American Dream and Promise Act, which successfully passed. It’s a bill that would ‘provide a pathway to citizenship to undocumented immigrants who were brought to the US as children, known as DREAMers’. AOC has also co-sponsored a number of other bills, ranging from allowing asylum seekers to work, to preventing the separation of families at borders.
4) She is ambitious about climate justice
But what’s really driven AOC’s political career so far is her Green New Deal proposal. It’s a bill introduced by AOC and Senator Ed Markey in February 2019 and aims to both fight inequity and tackle climate change. It’s a broad and ambitious proposal that looks at establishing a green economy and infrastructure and overhauling carbon-heavy sectors. The Green New Deal, of course, has come with a lot of criticism: conservatives called it socialist, while the moderates (on both sides) called it extreme. Senator Ted Cruz even went as far as to say that this proposal would result in ‘the end of hamburgers’.
5) She is not scared to critique capitalism
What makes AOC really stand out from the sea of Democrats is the fact she’s not afraid to criticise capitalism and its effects on the economy, healthcare, and the environment. She’s called capitalism ‘irredeemable’ and sees herself as a Democratic socialist. A fact about AOC, and others, that Donald Trump and the Republicans have run with when it comes to criticising them and their policies. They want to drum up fear in Americans around the Democrats being ‘radical’ and ‘communists’, something we also saw in this year’s US election too.
6) She has integrity
AOC famously takes no corporate donations or pledges, inspiring other Democrats to follow suit. She’s also gone toe to toe with huge corporations, such as Amazon recently, publicly criticising the amount of tax these corporations pay (or don’t pay), and the sheer amount of wealth and power they have. In her year or so as a politician, AOC has gone to work on making her policies and values a reality for Americans.
7) She connects in the right ways
Another aspect of AOC’s political career that has garnered a lot of attention is her use of social media. She’s no stranger to jumping on an Instagram Live or making videos that infuse both pop culture and politics - or even helpful information about the Covid-19 vaccine in recent weeks. It’s something that is rarely seen in US politics, or politics in general. But what this infusion of politics and social media has done is extend her base beyond her district, allowing her to get her views and policies out further afield. And with the younger generations typically not coming out to vote, as much as their older counterparts, the use of social media to engage all people with politics is key. AOC has proven that she represents a new kind of politician and a new kind of leader. A politician who isn’t out of touch with the people they represent, but is still very much connected.
So, what next for AOC? Well, as a public critic of President-Elect Joe Biden, her focus will be on him and putting pressure on him to deliver on key policies. The left-leaning Democrats, like AOC, have always said that the priority in the US election was to evict Donald Trump. And so, they threw their support into Biden’s campaign. But now the time and energy will be going into making sure Biden actually implements meaningful change for Americans. There are also rumours that AOC may be eyeing up the New York senate seat, which will be up for election in 2022. A rumour that she’s neither confirmed nor denied. One thing’s for sure, AOC has made a name for herself as a genuine and inspiring politician, and that’s something politics is in urgent need of.