Ever since Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (or AOC, as she has become known) burst onto the national scene with a primary victory over powerful Democrat Joe Crowley in June 2018, she has gone on to defy all odds to become the youngest woman ever to be elected to the U.S. Congress. Ocasio-Cortez’s approach to politics and leadership bears the hallmarks of a Millennial – she has far more Twitter power than any other political figure, barring President Donald Trump. Her mastery of social media – much like a celebrity influencer or lifestyle blogger – has been the key in helping her to connect with large swaths of audiences and young voters. And beyond policy, Ocasio-Cortez stands for a symbol of the evolving millennial leader; a woman of mixed ethnicity with data-driven points of view, who is tech-savvy, and outspoken on her political beliefs. It is almost like she says what most of us want to say but stop short because we fear the backlash. A self-described Democratic Socialist, Ocasio-Cortez’s core message of social and economic justice resonates with the masses – be it Universal Medicare, a Green New Deal, progressive taxation or gun control.
More than anything, Ocasio-Cortez is seen as more relatable than many other seasoned politicians, and she represents the wave of a new generation of leaders we are going to see in US politics, and in world politics for that matter. The current predominant support for socialist policies is a sign that the old rules of politics are changing fast, and that there’s a generation of young Americans out there desperate for hope and national political change. Considering the fact that the majority of the Millennials grew up in the shadow of the 9/11 attacks and came of age during the housing bust, the global financial crisis and the subsequent recession, they have never really known a time of economic prosperity. But they have grown up with a political system that they didn’t choose and one that has proven incapable of addressing the myriad societal issues they face today – be it the astronomical rise in cost of living, the crippling student loan crisis, growing income inequality or climate change.
One thing is clear – the millennials have had enough, and with more and more voting power in their hands, they are looking for change. They are looking for leaders among them who will fight for their causes. They want leaders who walk the talk. They want leaders who represent them. And they want leaders who are passionate, authentic and not apologetic for what they believe – no matter how radical their ideas may seem. And they relate to Ocasio-Cortez as one of them – a Congress woman who struggles to afford rent, just like most other Millennials!
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