All Things Considered, AOC Has Already Left a Legacy.

No politician is perfect, but Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has certainly made a mark.

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AOC via Getty Images

Tomorrow, my state of New York will be holding their primary election as the nation gears up for the upcoming general election in November. As we get ready to cast our ballots I can’t help thinking about down-ballot candidates inspired to rise to the occasion, and challenge the traditional way politics is done. At the same time, I can’t help thinking about those who have inspired them, and in New York in particular but around the nation as well, congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is certainly one of them.

While of course Bernie Sanders was a spark that ignited a flame, I can’t help wondering how many leftists and progressives were inspired to run themselves after watching AOC rise to the occasion and succeed. Not only did she beat an incumbent, she beat the fourth most powerful democrat in congress. A congressmen who was among those being considered as Nancy Pelosi’s successor for Speaker of the House. She may only have been in congress for two years thus far, but the fact that candidates like Jamaal Bowman are following in her footsteps and challenging a candidate like a nearly forty year veteran lawmaker like Eliot Engel shows that she has already left a legacy.

But of course, it isn’t just her. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib as well have been a breath of fresh air. No politician is perfect, and I still firmly believe it will take a whole lot more than electoral politics to generate the change necessary for this nation to move forward in any meaningful way, but I can’t help but feel a little more hopeful and inspired when I see authentic, principled people in power.

It is thanks to people like AOC that even in a democratic party machine stronghold like New York and New York City in particular, people are beginning to realize that they do in fact have the power to hold their elected officials accountable, and demand more. People are beginning to realize that voters — when given the opportunity — will respond to a vision. When they see what AOC was able to achieve and the force she has become, it’s been so refreshing to see some become inspired enough to run themselves.

Above all else, the movement that people like Bernie Sanders, AOC, and Rashida Tlaib among others has shown us that change does not come easy or quickly. They cannot do it alone. But the fact that we are seeing so many others following in their footsteps and running campaigns with a similar message is a powerful testament to what’s possible so long as we remain organized. Given everything that’s been going on over the past few months, it’s nice to sit back and feel at least a bit hopeful about the future. Tomorrow as the results of the primaries roll in, I hope that feeling only intensifies.

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Lauren is a writer & leftist with analysis on topics related to politics & policy. She can be reached at or Twitter @xlauren_mx

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