Democratic socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has shaken up the US political status quo after unseating veteran Democrat Joe Crowley in New York’s 14th Congressional District. She will now face Republican candidate Anthony Pappas in November’s election.
“People vs Money”
Political heavyweight Crowley had remained in his position for ten terms. But despite his seniority and access to large campaign funds, Ocasio-Cortez snatched the election with 57.5% of the final vote. It was the first time since 2004 that Crowley had been challenged.
Ocasio-Cortez, a member of the Socialist Democrats of America, attributed her win to grassroots campaigning, ignoring Trump on Twitter and clever use of publicity ads. And her people-fuelled movement received a lot of the credit for her impressive victory:
People vs Money https://t.co/RJnSxSFaTq
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@Ocasio2018) June 26, 2018
.@Ocasio2018 led a movement. She rejected corporate donors. She took bold progressive policy positions. She collected petitions in the snow, and knocked on doors in the heat. The future of working people in New York is brighter today, and it’s because of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
— Cynthia Nixon (@CynthiaNixon) June 27, 2018
what @Ocasio2018's deck looks like: focusing on people, not corporate dollars. her campaign is powered by volunteers and over 13,000 individual donors, who have given an average of $23–and it's making a real impact:https://t.co/JGbN355DcX https://t.co/CL2AYwzlX3
— eillie anzilotti (@eillieanzi) June 26, 2018
“Women like me”
Ocasio-Cortez is not your usual political candidate. She is just 28, born and raised in the Bronx, New York. And she is of Puerto Rican descent. She also describes herself as a socialist, and has called for a “political revolution“.
After graduating from Boston University with an economics and international relations degree, she worked on the presidential campaign of Bernie Sanders, and also assisted Democratic senator Ted Kennedy.
With few resources and limited access to funds, Ocasio-Cortez ran a grassroots campaign, reaching out to communities in Queens and the Bronx. And her simple campaign video went viral thanks to its key messages:
It's time for a New York that works for all of us.
On June 26th, we can make it happen – but only if we have the #CourageToChange.
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@Ocasio2018) May 30, 2018
The video kicked off with the phrase “women like me aren’t supposed to run for office”. It made reference to the under-representation of citizens of Hispanic heritage currently in US politics, in particular those who come from working-class backgrounds.
Upon learning of her victory, she said:
We meet a machine with a movement, and that is what we have done today… working-class Americans want a clear champion and there is nothing radical about moral clarity in 2018.
Anger can be power
What I want the party and people all over the country to know is that my campaign represents authentic, accountable racial and social justice
And she stressed on Twitter that the focus of her campaign was “fierce advocacy for working class Americans”. She also proposes to abolish the controversial Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency, reform the criminal justice system, and provide free university tuition and affordable universal healthcare.
The child detention camps are here – I confronted the border officers myself.
Using their names, I told them exactly what they are responsible for.
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@Ocasio2018) June 24, 2018
Ocasio-Cortez has sent shockwaves throughout the US political spectrum. She’s breathing life into a stale system by reaching out to those alienated from mainstream politics. And she’s doing this at a time in US politics when it’s sorely needed.
Featured image via YouTube