Do you ever deal with people who blame the current political climate on an assumption? “Young people just don’t care about politics,” they say. Just by looking at those around me, I can attest to a growing percentage of younger folks who truly don’t give a damn about politics. But in my case, I believe that politics in general, is a fascinating, encompassing, albeit frustrating subject. For most, the problem is not the concept of politics, but rather a scarcity of competent politicians to care about. The bar is so low in American politics, that “competent” is an adjective most of us would be happy with. History has shown that when communities are a part of a corrupt system for a long time, they tend to become numb or apathetic to the ideals of political prosperity. Politicians and public servants often cheat the system, abuse their power for monetary gain, and ignore the demands and concerns of the constituents that got them in their positions. In the last few years, we have seen an influx of new faces in the political circuits. Our new senators and congress men and women are more diverse than ever. One of the most prominent names in politics today is one of those new voices, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. In just a couple years, she has cemented herself as a new progressive voice making young people excited about politics again. Ocasio-Cortez’ background, relatable personality, and proposals represent the new direction the future of politics is taking. As a nation, we are fed up with the domination of the rich, old, white, corrupt politicians, and we are ready for the era of AOC.
Ocasio-Cortez is a congresswoman who drew national attention in 2018 by challenging Joe Crowley for New York’s 14th congressional district. Up to that point, Crowley had been a 10-term incumbent, often running unopposed; a classic case of a politician who won’t make any positive changes to the community but somehow continues to get elected by default. AOC saw the need for change and decided to take matters into her own hands. By creating a grassroots campaign driven by young communal efforts and social media she was able to defeat Crowley and get the attention of the media. “A 28-year Old Former Bartender From Queens Defeats Joe Crowley In A Shocking Election.” Sensationalized headlines like the above-mentioned sparked a national interest in AOC. She was previously an activist and worked as a waitress and bartender before running for Congress in 2018. Taking office at 29, Ocasio-Cortez is the youngest woman ever to serve in the United States Congress. Her story was inspiring for sure, but it was her views, proposals, and stances that made her a superstar in the Democratic Party.
Ocasio-Cortez self-describes as a Democratic Socialist, a label that makes many people uncomfortable. When asked about what that label represents, she says that simply, “in a modern, moral, and wealthy society, no one should be too poor to live.” Ocasio-Cortez supports other policies such as single-payer Medicare for all, tuition-free public college and trade school, a federal job guarantee, the cancellation of all $1.6 trillion of outstanding student debt, guaranteed family leave, abolishing ICE, ending the privatization of prisons, enacting gun-control policies, and energy policy relying on 100% renewables. These policies are always deemed “too progressive” by conservatives (who are not affected by any of these issues anyway). I’m tired of politicians telling me that my essential needs are concepts that are too progressive. I’m tired of seeing people around me get sicker because they can’t afford insurance. I’m tired of having senseless killings and seeing people flaunt their assault riffles on social media. If progressive is what is going to change things, then we need more of that.
The world of politics is mostly white, old, and male. By being a young, Hispanic woman, Ocasio-Cortez was already facing opposition from within the system. What makes AOC one of my personal role models is her resilience against a system that wants to see her fail. She has faced so much opposition from her colleagues, they are threatened by her mere presence. I can see her becoming the first female president of the United States. She is a young, working-class WOC, eloquent, dynamic, self-made, confident; she represents everything that is lacking from politics. She will be elegible to run for President on 2024 because of the constitution’s age requirement. This will give her some time to build momentum, continue to push legislatures, and further cement herself as the future of the democratic house. Today we are facing a very disappointing presidential election, the question is basically, do you want to be shot in the heart or in the foot? This is our reality and as tough as it is to pick the “lesser of two evils” we all know who we need to pick this election. This cannot be 2016 all over again. So for now, suck it up, vote #45 out, and continue to invest in our new politicians. Let’s reject antiquated ideals and promote those who are fighting for our future. Let’s continue to support those who are here to make a change. Let’s get ready for the era of AOC.