Illustration by Tara Thomas/22 West Magazine

Congress Meets the 21st Century

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez reaches a new generation

By Melanie Morales, Contributor

Illustration by Tara Thomas, Art Director

The historic induction of the 116th class of Congress on Jan. 3, 2019 brought strong potential for progressive change. This diverse class has key players who, because of their ethnicities, genders and differences in religion and identities, are creating a government that better represents its constituents.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), 29, more commonly known as AOC, is the youngest woman ever elected to Congress. She has become a prominent political figure through her leveraging of social media to promote her policies for reforms in education, sustainability, and healthcare while also encouraging millennials to become more politically aware.

"Politics, whether we like it or not, determines a lot of our reality."

“Personally, I find her use of social media throughout her campaign and currently as she holds office, to be a strong political move because many politicians often benefit from keeping younger people, among others, uninformed regarding policy and governmental procedures,” said Victoria Ramirez, a senior studying sociology and journalism at CSULB. “But by using a platform where engagement from a younger electorate is more active, we are able to open a door that can motivate them to be more politically engaged.”

Through Instagram, Ocasio-Cortez converses with her 2 million followers over live streams, stories and posts to discuss current political situations to make them more approachable to young voters in exchange for their trust and support.

With the vision of a better future for this country, Ocasio-Cortez pushes for the adoption of socially progressive policies that can help an array of people like tuition-free college education, universal healthcare and her “Green New Deal,” which helps combat climate change by proposing the use of renewable resources such as wind or solar to generate electricity instead of non-renewable fossil fuels.

“Politics, whether we like it or not, determines a lot of our reality, and through her use of social media Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is bringing political awareness to the fingertips of a younger population, making it more attainable and understandable,” said Ramirez.

"I know she is determined to find a way to make those goals become a reality.”

Some feel Ocasio-Cortez’s age makes her more relatable to young voters because she has faced similar issues to us, such as working more than one job as a full time student to pay bills. She is also taking advantage of social media to promote equality, seek justice and create change in this nation by addressing the many injustices working-class citizens face to encourage those in power to take accountability and correct it.

Ocasio-Cortez refuses to stay silent in the face of injustice. During her speech at the Women’s March on January 19, 2019, she stated that "Oftentimes the most righteous thing you can do is shake the table."  and because of her force, many generations to come will experience the vibrations.

“Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s impact on the nation will definitely be a positive one because of her age, which is one of her many advantages, however, it can also be her weakness,” said Paula Barrantes, a junior studying journalism at CSULB. “Many of her policies aim to help young adults, but some of her constituents find them to be far-fetched. However, I know she is determined to find a way to make those goals become a reality.”