In 2018, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez emerged on the political scene as a dynamic and boldly outspoken figure, captivating the imagination of the youth with her unapologetic socialist stance. Her journey from a humble background as a waitress to becoming the youngest woman ever elected to the United States Congress at 29 seemed like an inspiring rags-to-riches story, resonating particularly with young females nationwide. The anticipation was high, and she seemed destined for a promising and lengthy political career.
In no time at all, AOC transitioned from waitress to politics before evolving into an internet meme queen.
AOC, a proud member of the Democratic Socialists of America, swiftly gained prominence after winning the Democratic primary for New York’s 14th congressional district in 2018, defeating a long-term incumbent. When she won her seat, she became the first female Democrat Socialist of America candidate to serve in Congress. However, her tenure in Congress has been marked by controversies and conflicts within her party and beyond.
Frequently known as the “dumbest” woman ever to serve in Congress, Ocasio-Cortez rose to prominence in 2018 after winning the Democratic primary for New York’s 14th congressional district, defeating a long-term incumbent. Born in 1989, she is the youngest woman ever to serve in the United States Congress.
Starting as a bartender with limited savings and minimal influential social connections, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez caught the attention of Brand New Congress. The organization, through its newly formed group called Justice Democrats, saw potential in Ocasio-Cortez’s unconventional background and perceived her as a compelling figure for the burgeoning and increasingly confident grassroots left.
AOC sparks controversy with her socialist views. She strongly supports progressive pet policies, including Medicare for All, the Green New Deal, climate change, unchecked illegal immigration, and increasing the federal minimum wage.
Teaming up with fellow progressive Democrats Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, and Ayanna Pressley, AOC became part of a coalition known as “The Squad.” Their outspokenness and progressive policies drew both admiration and criticism, with former President Donald Trump labeling them “a very racist group of troublemakers” in 2019.
Despite her initial appeal, AOC’s tenure has been characterized by clashes within her party, notably with then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. In 2018, the newly elected congresswoman stormed Pelosi’s office, leading Democrat supporters in a demonstration to demand aggressive climate change initiatives. While Pelosi claimed that she “welcomed” the protest, the police were called, and 51 protestors were arrested for refusing to leave. AOC notably left the scene ahead of the arrests.
As the war between Pelosi and AOC continued, the young representative continued to buck key pieces of Democrat legislation. AOC and the other members of the squad were the only four Democrats to vote against Pelosi’s prized immigration bill in 2019, accusing Democrats of caving to an administration determined to “mistreat children.”
Meanwhile, AOC didn’t win any friends when she supported Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) ahead of the 2020 election. Calling for a “revolution” alongside her socialist Democrat ally, AOC pushed for the youth vote that propelled Sanders to modest success in 2016. She has since rejoined the party line in endorsing President Joe Biden for reelection in 2024.
In 2019, AOC, determined to drive her point home regarding the mistreatment of illegal immigrant children under the Trump administration, staged a laughable “border photo op” that made meme history. A sobbing AOC was photographed bent over in anguish outside of a chain link fence. Within the fence, she alleged, were hundreds of children being held in squalor. It was later revealed that the picture was taken outside a fence surrounding an empty parking lot. During the same trip, she accused border control agents of forcing detainees to drink out of toilets and accused an agent of attacking her.
She drew even more ire from the Jewish community when she compared the detention facilities to “concentration camps.”
On January 6, 2021, rioters gained access to the Capitol building. AOC rode the social media train as far as she could following the incident, saying that she was barricaded in her office and fearful for her life. She also claimed to be further traumatized when an unidentified man, immediately identifying himself as a Capitol Police officer, burst into her office. She also accused Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) of attempting to murder her by inciting the riot.
The story would have garnered more sympathy and showcased the spunky young congresswoman’s bravery had it been true. The protestors never “stormed” the Canon House Office Building, where AOC had barricaded herself. Representative Nancy Mace (R-SC) couldn’t resist the opportunity to troll AOC, tweeting, “My office is two doors down. Insurrectionists never stormed our hallway.”
Adding insult to injury, a journalist uncovered a tweet AOC had posted long before the incident that said making people uncomfortable was the goal of protests. “To folks who complain protest demands make others uncomfortable,” the tweet read, “that’s the point.”
In 2019, she blocked Amazon from building a second headquarters in Queen. She was protesting a $2 billion tax break that would have benefited the corporation, but the move cost New York City 25,000 jobs and $30 billion in new revenue.
In 2021, AOC attracted attention by attending a $35,000 per ticket Met gala event in a dress and accessories costing nearly $10,000. Boldly emblazoned across the white dress in red paint were the words “Tax the Rich.” It was later revealed that she initially refused to pay for the dress and services she used to attend the event, paying only after she was “outed” for her actions. She would subsequently become the target of an ethics committee investigation for accepting gifts related to her appearance.
Throughout her tenure, Ocasio-Cortez has been repeatedly criticized for her “outfit hypocrisy.” While the congresswoman protests capitalism and wealth, she is regularly seen wearing designer clothes on the Senate floor and visiting swanky hair salons for services costing over $300 apiece. She claimed in an interview that “dressing the part” was challenging but also a way to “connect with her constituents” while wearing $1500 earrings and an $800 dress for the event. She also pocketed mad bucks selling merchandise at prices most of her supporters could not afford, like a “Tax the Rich” sweatshirt for $58.
Social media is not a friend to AOC. She has frequently posted head-scratching content, like criticizing Americans for calling the spike in illegal immigration a “surge.” She proudly posted, “This is not a surge, these are children, and they are not insurgents.”
In 2019, she wrote that Miami would be underwater by 2021 and that the Earth only had 12 years left because of climate change. She posted a picture of John Yarmouth (D-KY) as an example of an “old, white Republican” and called on voters to turn Kansas City “red.” AOC frequently posts inane content on social media and quickly tries to delete it, but critics often screenshot it before it can be removed.
Her tireless efforts to combat climate change included telling a group of schoolchildren to stop using disposable razors and calling climate change “our World War II” while blaming the border crisis on global warming. She has further stated that, in the face of the climate crisis, having children is “morally unjustifiable.” She claimed that ending climate change would also eradicate racism.
AOC initially denied the spike in crime in New York City but later acknowledged it while cautioning the nation not to take the numbers seriously. She blamed the escalating crime on unemployment and suggested that Americans should be sympathetic to criminals who were murdering each other because they “couldn’t afford a loaf of bread.”
She recently displayed her ignorance regarding foreign affairs by stating the Israel-Palestine conflict is because the Palestinians lack affordable housing. She then admitted that she was “not an expert on geopolitics,” marking the first intelligent thing she said since taking office. It was an ironic statement, considering she graduated from Boston University in 2011 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in International Relations and Economics.
In 2021, AOC earned the questionable honor of being ranked one of the least effective members of Congress. Despite introducing 21 bills, none of her proposed legislation advanced beyond the initial stages. Among the unsuccessful bills were her propositions for a comprehensive federal overhaul of public housing, a fracking ban, and a mandate for full federal public benefits to be extended to undocumented immigrants.
While (AOC) has attempted to fill a role for which she was wildly unprepared, her actions often prove that she is better suited to serving beer than Congress. As she gears up for reelection in 2024, the nation finds itself torn between hoping that New York City has learned a crucial lesson and secretly hoping the comic relief of this one-woman clown show will continue.