AOC tends to be standoffish towards her more centrist and conservative peers. Kayla Glaraton writes about all the complexities of a freshman Congresswoman.
The greatest characteristic of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY 14th District) is her unrivaled persistence and passion. The freshman congresswoman from the Bronx, commonly known as AOC, has recognized the need for a generational change in Washington.
She is consistently driving the conversation on a number of issues. Whether she is pushing for her Green New Deal or testifying about border detention center conditions, AOC always speaks her truth. And everyone is listening.
She has surrounded herself with other, like-minded liberal party members. While there is always power in numbers, it shows one of her greater flaws. She has a tendency to villainize anyone with less than ultra-liberal views. It demonstrates her perseverance, yet also highlights her need to slow down and learn how to be successful in Washington.
AOC’s powerful voice in Congress has also revealed the ugly character of America, more specifically her president’s nature. As recently as July 22, Trump has attacked her and several of her fellow freshman congresswomen on, what else, Twitter. He has suggested that they cannot love America and that they should go back to their home countries.
AOC is very self-confident. She is intelligent and has an admirable work ethic. These qualities show her great potential in the House and maybe one day the Senate.
This self-confidence was inflated by her swift rise from community organizer to the United States representative. Last June, AOC defeated longtime Rep. Joseph Crowley in the Democratic primary for New York’s 14th District. The result shocked everyone, no one more than the young politician herself. She had managed to receive four thousand more votes than the decade-long incumbent.
AOC, a member of Democratic Socialists of America, campaigned, and subsequently won, off of Bernie Sanders’s 2016 success. Her main pitch is that now is not only the time for a political revolution in America. It is also time for a sweeping generational change in Congress.
The key to her victory was her ultra-liberal views. Her bold, in-your-face style of speaking appealed to a population that felt forgotten by the centrist majority in the Democratic party.
Winning her first major election, and by a decent margin, has boosted her view that young Americans are ready to take the reins. It has strengthened her resolve to not compromise or adapt her bills to make them more likely to pass into law.
AOC still needs the learning curve
AOC tends to be standoffish towards her more centrist and conservative peers. She believes that their policy proposals are outdated, even if they appeal to a greater majority than her own.
Her lack of tangible success in Washington shows that she needs to break out of the constricting box she is putting herself in. While she can remain a passionate socialist, AOC needs to realize understanding and conversations with the other side are what get things done in American politics.
AOC commands every room she is in but has yet to translate that into actual, legislative success. Seven months in, she has only sponsored one new law. It is important to remember that she is in her first year. However, it is also necessary to recognize that she is nearly halfway down with her term.
AOC is hopefully recognizing that public support does not translate to success on the House floor. While the majority of her constituents want one thing, what New Yorkers want is not necessarily what is best for Wyomingites. She will need to learn to swallow her pride and learn from Democratic leaders like Nancy Pelosi to sustain her impact as well as keep her job.
American Racists Inflamed
While AOC’s assertiveness has been captivating her fellow congressmen, it has also caught the eye of the president. It has always brought out that hidden, ugly part of our country that still harbors racist and sexist views.
AOC has teamed up with three other freshman representatives, now known as “The Squad”. All are younger women of color who hold more far-left views than the party establishment. All but one were born in America; Ilhan Omar (D-MN 5th District) immigrated from Somalia when she was a child.
Over the last few weeks, these women have faced constant xenophobic harassment from Trump. This has emboldened conservative commentators to question who is to blame for constant claims of racism. It has made those secret racists to come out of hiding and threaten the lives of these women.
AOC’s powerful and captivating hold over the national conversation has subsequently revealed the truth many try to ignore: racism and sexism never left America. A Louisiana police officer lost his job after threatening her via a Facebook post.
“This vile idiot needs a round…and I don’t mean the kind she used to serve,” he said in response to a fake article.
This hateful opinion being openly shared has become normalized under Trump. It is one of the worst things his presidency has created: an allowance for threats against others simply because they share different views and lives.
In response to the threat, AOC said, “This is Trump’s goal when he uses targeted language… the President is sowing violence.”
Under Trump, what is so blatantly racist is now not so clear to some Americans, including members of some media organizations. Telling someone to “go back to where you came from” has always been and always will be wrong. That is an irrefutable fact.
Trump tweeted that “The Squad,” are the racist ones, not him. This follows up a tweet in which he implies that they do not love America. His reasoning possibly stems from their criticism of Israel.
“I don’t believe the four Congresswomen are capable of loving our country,” he tweeted July 21. “They should apologize to America (and Israel) for the horrible (hateful) things they have said,” he added.
AOC’s success at starting conversations, such as how we treat migrants, is scaring people. It reveals a fear of the loss of a patriarchal society. It shows that there are some in America still afraid of powerful women.
The four women who have faced brutal attacks on their characters and personal identities have shown their strength. They are meeting the racist and sexist comments with smart, calm rebuttals, pointing out the hypocrisy in Trump’s accusations.
There is much that has been revealed during AOC’s first seven months in Congress. Much is about her own character and how much she still needs to learn about her new job. Other revelations have brought light to the deeply painful, ugly part of our nation that is still afraid of the other.
It will be interesting to see how she grows and changes in the office. It will be even more important to watch how the country, and the Republican party, addresses the horrible xenophobia and sexism her growing power is bringing out.