Person

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Political Party:

Democratic Party

Occupation:

U.S. Representative (2019 – Present)

Nationality:

American

Born:

1989

Lives:

New York, NY

Organization:

US House of Representatives

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, also known as “AOC,” is a Democratic politician and leader of the radical left of the Party. In 2018, she was elected U.S. Representative for New York’s 14th District located in the Bronx and Queens. First elected at 28 years old, Ocasio-Cortez is as of mid-2020 the youngest woman ever elected to Congress.

Ocasio-Cortez is a self-identified democratic socialist and a member of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA). She is a member of “The Squad,” a group of radical-left-aligned U.S. Representatives, along with fellow DSA member  Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), controversial U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), and left-wing Boston-area U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA). Ocasio-Cortez is considered a leader of the far-left wing of the Democratic Party and a potential harbinger of a leftward trend in the party led by its youngest members.

In 2019, she proposed the Green New Deal legislation in Congress along with Senator Ed Markey (D-MA).

Early Life and Education

Ocasio-Cortez was born in the Bronx in 1989 to Puerto Rican parents. Her father owned an architecture company and her mother, who was born in Puerto Rico, was a housekeeper. [1] Ocasio-Cortez moved to Yorktown Heights, an affluent suburb north of New York City, when she was five years old. Ocasio-Cortez attended Yorktown High School where she became involved in the National Hispanic Institute (NHI), a nonprofit which trains Hispanic individuals for community leadership. [2][3]

In 2007, Ocasio-Cortez began attending Boston University to study international relations and economics. She graduated cum laude in 2011. While at college, she interned in the office of U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA) as part of the John F. Lopez Summer Internship program run by the NHI. Ocasio-Cortez focused on foreign affairs and immigration; she has written that her interactions with Kennedy’s immigrant constituents informed her liberal views on immigration and opposition to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency. [4]

Early Career

After college, Ocasio-Cortez moved to the Bronx and worked as a bartender, waitress, house cleaner, and bus driver. [5]

In 2012, Ocasio-Cortez founded Brook Avenue Press, a publishing firm for books that portrayed Brooklyn in a positive light. The firm was founded with the financial assistance of the Sunshine Bronx Business Incubator, a city-subsidized entrepreneurship incubator. Broom Avenue Press closed in 2017, but as of May 2020, the company owed $2,088.78 in corporate taxes to New York State. [6]

In 2016, Ocasio-Cortez worked for the campaign of Bernie Sanders (D-VT) during the Democratic primaries. Two years later, while Ocasio-Cortez was elected to Congress, Sanders would endorse her. The following year, she would endorse Sanders for president in the 2020 Democratic primaries. [7]

Congressional Campaign

In 2018, Ocasio-Cortez was recruited by Brand New Congress, a far-left PAC founded by Bernie Sanders campaign operatives, to run for Congress from New York’s 14th District. She was the first primary opponent of incumbent Rep. Joe Crowley (D-NY), since 2004. At the time, Ocasio-Cortez was working as a bartender and waitress. [8]

Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign was seen as a challenge from the left-wing of the Democratic Party against the left-of-center establishment. While Crowley received endorsements from New York’s governor and both senators, Ocasio-Cortez was supported by numerous left-wing and far-left organizations, including the Democratic Socialists of America, MoveOn,[9] Democracy for America, People for Bernie,[10] Black Lives Matter, and Justice Democrats. [11] Ocasio-Cortez remained in close contact with the National Hispanic Institute and served as its educational director for numerous programs, including while running the campaign. [12]

Despite grassroots support, Ocasio-Cortez was outspent 18-1. [13] Crowley refused to show up to the one scheduled debate and sent former city councilman Annabel Palma (D-Bronx) in his place. [14]

Ocasio-Cortez’s victory over Crowley by fifteen percentage points was a huge surprise to pundits and political forecasters. The Guardian called her election “one of the biggest political upsets in recent American history” and a sign that the Democratic Party could be moving further left. [15] Ocasio-Cortez became the “second most talked-about politician in America” after President Trump, her Twitter followers rose from 49,000 to 3.5 million, and she was put on the cover of Time. [16]

Ocasio-Cortez won the general election with 78% of the vote against Republican Anthony Papas, an economics professor at St. John’s University who did not actively campaign. [17]

Congress

Media Attention

Since her election, Ocasio-Cortez has been one of the highest-profile members of Congress. [18] She is frequently praised by left-of-center media outlets and criticized by right-of-center media. Time put Ocasio-Cortez on its “Time 100” list of the 100 most influential individuals of the year. Netflix released the documentary Knock Down the House about the campaigns and elections of four freshman Congresswomen, including Ocasio-Cortez. Politico has called Ocasio-Cortez “perhaps the most prominent liberal in the House.” [19]

“The Squad”

Shortly after taking office, Representatives Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), formed an unofficial voting coalition called “The Squad.” The Squad came to national attention when President Trump Tweeted that its members should “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.” Many pundits considered the Tweet to be racist since all four members of The Squad are non-white. Observers have identified The Squad’s publicity and attention from the national media as further evidence of the Democratic Party’s leftward drift. [20]

Green New Deal

In February 2019, Ocasio-Cortez introduced her first piece of legislation, a bundle of resolutions and bills known as the Green New Deal. The Green New Deal is a proposal to phase out fossil fuel and to radically reorganize the American economy around environmentalist goals, particularly combatting climate change. Budget estimates put the ten-year cost of the legislation at up to $90 trillion. [21]

Amazon HQ2

In early 2019, Amazon proposed building its second headquarters in New York City with the assistance of $3 billion in tax credits. Though the headquarters would bring an estimated 25,000 jobs to the city and polls showed that most New Yorkers approved of HQ2, Ocasio-Cortez was an outspoken opponent of the plan. She argued that the New York City government should invest $3 billion in direct economic subsidies and development rather than approve Amazon’s HQ2. Amazon has since stopped the New York plan and is building its new facility in Arlington, Virginia. [22]

2020 Election

In April 2020, Politico reported that the US Chamber of Commerce, which typically supports Republican candidates, is financing the Democratic primary campaign of former CNBC anchor Michelle Caruso-Cabrera against Ocasio-Cortez. [23] Caruso-Cabrera hoped to capitalize on Ocasio-Cortez’s declining popularity, which has been falling since her election. As of July 2019, Ocasio-Cortez has a net favorability rating of -17 among registered voters, though she has a +37 rating among Democrats. [24] As of April 2020, Ocasio-Cortez has raised $5 million in campaign funds. [25]

Ocasio-Cortez endorsed Bernie Sanders for the Democratic nomination and actively campaigned for him. After Sanders’s loss, she endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden (D-DE). [26]

Political Views

Ocasio-Cortez is a self-described democratic socialist. She has stated in interviews that she supports the implementation of government-run healthcare, higher taxes, and more wealth redistribution, on the model of the Scandinavian countries. She also supports cancelling all student debt, abolishing ICE, and a federal “job guarantee.” [27][28]

Ocasio-Cortez is a member of Democratic Socialists of America, a far-left organization which advocates for ending private property, the abolition of capitalism, and the conversion of all corporations to worker-owned co-ops. [29]

References

  1. Altern Charlotte. “’Change is Closer Than We Think.’ Inside Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Unlikely Rise.” Time. March 21, 2019. Accessed May 18, 2020. https://time.com/longform/alexandria-ocasio-cortez-profile/. ^
  2. “Biography.” Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Accessed May 18, 2020. https://ocasio-cortez.house.gov/about/biography. ^
  3. “Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez named 2017 NHI Person of the Year.” NHI Magazine. December 31, 2017. Accessed May 18, 2020. http://www.nhimagazine.com/2017/12/31/alexandria-ocasio-cortez-named-2017-nhi-person-year/. ^
  4. “Biography.” Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Accessed May 18, 2020. https://ocasio-cortez.house.gov/about/biography. ^
  5. Gambino, Lauren. “Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: who is the new progressive star of the Democrats?” Guardian. June 27, 2018. Accessed May 18, 2020. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/jun/27/alexandria-ocasio-cortez-who-is-she-democrats-new-york-life-career-policies. ^
  6. Campinile, Carl. “AOC owes $2,000 in unpaid taxes from failed business venture.” New York Post. May 17, 2020. Accessed May 18, 2020. https://nypost.com/2020/05/17/aoc-owes-2000-in-unpaid-taxes-from-failed-business-venture/. ^
  7. Sullivan, Katie, Krieg, Gregory. “Why Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez endorsed Bernie Sanders.” CNN. October 20, 2019. Accessed May 18, 2020. https://www.cnn.com/2019/10/19/politics/alexandria-ocasio-cortez-endorses-bernie-sanders/index.html. ^
  8. Manriquez, Pablo. “The Gospel of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.” Roll Call. December 14, 2018. Accessed May 18, 2020. https://www.rollcall.com/2018/12/14/the-gospel-of-alexandria-ocasio-cortez/. ^
  9. Chamberlain, Samuel. “Rep. Joe Crowley defeated in Democratic primary upset by newcomer Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.” Fox News. June 26, 2018. Accessed May 18, 2020. https://www.foxnews.com/politics/rep-joe-crowley-defeated-in-democratic-primary-upset-by-newcomer-alexandria-ocasio-cortez. ^
  10. Goldmacher, Shane, Martin, Jonathan. “Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Defeats Joseph Crowley in Major Democratic House Upset.” New York Times. June 26, 2018. Accessed May 18, 2020. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/26/nyregion/joseph-crowley-ocasio-cortez-democratic-primary.html. ^
  11. Lipsitz, Raina. “Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Fights the Power.” The Nation. June 22, 2018. Accessed May 18, 2020. https://www.thenation.com/article/archive/alexandria-ocasio-cortez-fights-power/. ^
  12. “From NHI to Congress: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.” NHI Magazine. July 1, 2017. Accessed May 18, 2020. http://www.nhimagazine.com/2017/07/01/nhi-congress-alexandria-ocasio-cortez/. ^
  13. Hajela, Deepti. “Political novice Ocasio-Cortez scores for progressives in NYC.” AP News. June 27, 2018. Accessed May 18, 2020. https://apnews.com/45eb9af59317402699b23c4826a8192c. ^
  14. Lewis, Rebecca. “Crowley sends “worst NYC lawmaker” to debate in his place.” City & State. June 19, 2018. Accessed May 18, 2020. https://www.cityandstateny.com/articles/politics/news-politics/joe-crowley-sends-annabel-palma-to-debate-in-his-place. ^
  15. Jacobs, Ben, Gambino, Lauren. “Democrats see major upset as socialist beats top-ranking US congressman.” Guardian. June 27, 2018. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/jun/26/democrats-primaries-upset-joe-crowley-alexandria-osacio-cortez. ^
  16. Altern Charlotte. “’Change is Closer Than We Think.’ Inside Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Unlikely Rise.” Time. March 21, 2019. Accessed May 18, 2020. https://time.com/longform/alexandria-ocasio-cortez-profile/. ^
  17. Hicks, Nolan. “Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez will run against St. Johns professor.” New York Post. June 27, 2018. Accessed May 18, 2020. https://nypost.com/2018/06/27/alexandria-ocasio-cortez-will-run-against-st-johns-professor/. ^
  18. Altern Charlotte. “’Change is Closer Than We Think.’ Inside Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Unlikely Rise.” Time. March 21, 2019. Accessed May 18, 2020. https://time.com/longform/alexandria-ocasio-cortez-profile/. ^
  19. Isenstadt, Alex. “Chamber of Commerce backs AOC’s Primary Challenger.” Politco. April 8, 2020. Accessed May 18, 2020. https://www.politico.com/news/2020/04/09/chamber-commerce-aoc-primary-challenger-175917. ^
  20. Sullivan, Kate. “Here are the 4 congresswomen known as ‘The Squad’ targeted by Trump’s racist tweets.” CNN. July 16, 2019. Accessed May 18, 2020. https://www.cnn.com/2019/07/15/politics/who-are-the-squad/index.html. ^
  21. Holtz-Eakin, Douglas, Bosch, Dan, Gitis, Ben, Goldbeck, Dan, Rossetti, Philip. “The Green New Deal: Scope, Scale, and Implications.” American Action Forum. February 25, 2019. Accessed May 18, 2020. https://www.americanactionforum.org/research/the-green-new-deal-scope-scale-and-implications/. ^
  22. Green, Dennis, Hickey, Walt. “Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez says that $3 billion in tax credits should be given to the public, not Amazon – and a new poll shows that nearly half of Americans agree.” Business Insider. February 20, 2019. Accessed May 18, 2020. https://www.businessinsider.com/poll-most-dont-support-amazon-hq2-style-deal-2019-2. ^
  23. Isenstadt, Alex. “Chamber of Commerce backs AOC’s Primary Challenger.” Politco. April 8, 2020. Accessed May 18, 2020. https://www.politico.com/news/2020/04/09/chamber-commerce-aoc-primary-challenger-175917. ^
  24. Altern Charlotte. “’Change is Closer Than We Think.’ Inside Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Unlikely Rise.” Time. March 21, 2019. Accessed May 18, 2020. https://time.com/longform/alexandria-ocasio-cortez-profile/. ^
  25. Isenstadt, Alex. “Chamber of Commerce backs AOC’s Primary Challenger.” Politco. April 8, 2020. Accessed May 18, 2020. https://www.politico.com/news/2020/04/09/chamber-commerce-aoc-primary-challenger-175917. ^
  26. Folley, Aris. “Ocasio-Cortez says she will vote for Biden in November.” The Hill. April 23, 2020. Accessed May 18, 2020. https://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/494275-ocasio-cortez-says-she-will-vote-for-biden-in-november. ^
  27. Stickles, Nisha, Duarte, Barbara Corbellini. “Exclusive: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez explains what democratic socialism means to her.” Business Insider. March 4, 2019. Accessed May 18, 2020. https://www.businessinsider.com/alexandria-ocasio-cortez-explains-what-democratic-socialism-means-2019-3. ^
  28. Cooper, Anderson. “Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: The Rookie Congresswoman Challenging The Democratic Establishment.” 60 Minutes. January 6, 2019. Accessed May 18, 2020. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/alexandria-ocasio-cortez-the-rookie-congresswoman-challenging-the-democratic-establishment-60-minutes-interview-full-transcript-2019-01-06/. ^
  29. Neufeld, Jennie. “Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a Democratic Socialists of America member. Here’s what that means.” Vox. June 27, 2018. Accessed May 18, 2020. https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2018/6/27/17509604/alexandria-ocasio-cortez-democratic-socialist-of-america. ^

Connected Movements

  1. Green New Deal (GND)
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