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Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: The Non-Basic Girl’s Politician

There has been a lot of turmoil rumbling and bubbling in American politics. The state of the union can seem dire and relations strained no matter what side of the aisle you land on. When Donald Trump won the 2016 election, the mold was broken for what kind of politician Americans want and can have. The (only) upside of that rupture in our political fabric was the arrival of younger, brighter and more community-focused politicians– specifically Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Ocasio-Cortez more warmly known as AOC, has had a rough go of it her first term in the House of Representatives. Every word, action and even outfit is met with criticism from her contemporaries and adversaries. Female players in the political game have to spend a lot more time thinking about the outfits they wear, the messaging that is expressed through those outfit choices and the implications those decisions will have than their male counterparts. Former First Lady Michelle Obama spoke about this at length in her book, Becoming, former Illinois Senator Carol Moseley Braun has done an interview with Vox about the subject, and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez begun her dance with media criticism after a tweet from Eddie Scarry of the Washington Examiner proclaimed Ocasio-Cortez’s jacket and coat “doesn’t look like a girl who struggles.”

Her slicked back hair and bright red lips only serve the image of sureness that Ocasio-Cortez oozes. She is reminiscent of the cool, smart girl you went to high school with. She very well could have been the girl you sat next to in your freshman poli-sci class or the girl that lived next door in your first apartment on your own. She’s also the friend who’s lipstick you constantly borrow for a night out because it looks great on her but it somehow doesn’t have the same effect on you.

Ocasio-Cortez gives off an air of relatability that other politicians have a hard time achieving. Where other politicians can seem stuffy, removed, and out-of-touch, Ocasio-Cortez feels like someone you’ve known your whole life. She feels like an everyday person who became a politician.

Don’t misunderstand though. The Representative has been working towards Congress for most of her life. Ocasio-Cortez maintained stellar academics all the way through grade school and into college, internships in political offices where she was the only person able to speak Spanish, and worked as a bartender to help her mother make payments on their home after her father died. She understands what life is like for the people she represents and lets that inform her decision-making process. We should all be taking notes.

By Mikala Everett
Cover Photo by Gillian Laub