After working as a bartender in New York City and going on to represent New York’s 14th Congressional District as the youngest woman ever elected to Congress, the rise of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has been nothing short of meteoric. Being a young, unapologetically progressive, intelligent and well-spoken Latina woman, it’s no wonder there are new highlights of her speeches or viral tweets making news multiple times a week. All politics aside the media has fallen in love with her, if only because she gives them something to write or do a segment about. With all the newfound attention, AOC has undeniably become one of the new faces of the the progressive movement.
What’s been particularly interesting about the nonstop news surrounding Ocasio-Cortez is the attention she has received from conservatives. Her unspoken opposition to the Trump Presidency prompted Donald Trump Jr. to lead a crowd in a chant of “AOC sucks!”. Quite a lot of attention given to a 29 year old freshman Congresswoman by the right wing elites.
The most fascinating aspect of all the discussion among the right wing about AOC is their inability to make up their minds on how best to portray her to their audiences. A viral video on Youtube with nearly two million views that claimed AOC was a paid actress picked out of a casting call was quickly picked up by Fox News. In the video the voice of the man explaining his theory about the rising progressive star is cold and sinister, portraying her as a cunning, evil, Manchurian politician. Right Wing pundits took it incredibly seriously, as if politicians sent by their constituents to represent them shouldn’t know how to handle media attention or how to speak to the public. Not a month later, Donald Trump Jr. was declaring that Ocasio-Cortez hadn’t even known the three branches of government until three months ago.
So, which one is it? Is she cunning and conniving, or just some bartender? Is she dangerous to the American people, or just another liberal snowflake they feel knows nothing?
When it comes to the right wing media, it seems as though it really doesn’t matter as long as their audience is angry or afraid of her. It’s becoming evermore apparent that she is their new favorite woman to taunt, point to, and name the enemy. The chants of “lock her up!” that surrounded Hillary Clinton have been replaced by “AOC sucks!”, and of course that has not gone unnoticed by AOC. When asked about it, she responded with: “He doesn’t have another woman, Hillary Clinton, or whoever else to vilify anymore so they need to find another woman to kind of prop up and become a lightening rod.”
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a self-made woman of color who has deep-seeded and outspoken beliefs about what needs to be changed in this country and how to change it. Simply put: she is everything that the Republican establishment and their base is afraid of. There is nothing worse than a liberal woman with a voice that resonates. She defeated a democratic incumbent who hadn’t had a primary challenger since 2004, and has not come to play any games. Republicans love to encourage the American people to pick themselves up by the bootstraps. Unfortunately for them AOC did just that, and they’re not sure how to respond to her or the message she has brought with her. They don’t know how to handle a democratic politician who refuses be handled. When Donald Trump made a point to refer to her as a “young bartender”, Ocasio-Cortez simply responded in a tweet with: “the last man who underestimated me lost. I’ll just leave it at that.”
We must also ask ourselves: would the relentless vitriol that AOC continues to face be as intense if she wasn’t a young woman? We must also ask if it would be this intense if she wasn’t a young woman of color. The intersection of challenges that millions of women across this country are facing in their day to day lives have not escaped AOC, and one could easily argue that it has only intensified for her. After numerous death threats, the Capitol Police decided her staff must be trained in risk assessment of visitors to her office.
Regardless of everything that she has been forced to put up with since she took office just three months ago, Ocasio-Cortez has remained unswayed in her fight against the powers that be. With the political climate becoming increasingly polarized and the rhetoric stoked by President Trump becoming more dangerous, there is something to be said about the incredible courage that AOC continues to display on a daily basis.