With the government being shut down, Washington D.C. is in utter turmoil. At the time of this writing, Democratic congressional leadership and President Trump both refuse to back down over the five billion dollars that would go to fund the building of the wall.
With all of this chaos, you would think that would be all the media has time to focus on. Yet oddly enough, the government shutdown is sharing the spotlight with something else going on in politics.
Someone else, actually.
The youngest woman ever elected to Congress, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, has been partly the focus of the media since her surprising primary victory against a powerful Democrat who was a potential candidate for Speaker of the House.
Now, being the youngest woman elected to Congress would normally get you a few puff pieces from center-left publications. However, the media will not stop talking about Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (often referred to by her initials, AOC).
After winning her general election, Cortez proved that she would continue her anti-establishment streak and would not fall in line or go away. She proved this by participating in a protest outside of Nancy Pelosi's office advocating for the Green New Deal.
Ocasio-Cortez is a huge advocate for the Green New Deal, which would create thousands of jobs, switch America to using renewable resources, and end our dependence on fossil fuels.
Her ambitious agenda includes single-payer healthcare, public housing, free public college, and abolishing ICE. She suggested taxing people making over 10 million dollars up to 70% of their income to pay for these policy proposals.
Rather than try to argue about why these policies are wrong, right-wing pundits have resorted to finding old videos of Ocasio-Cortez dancing in college. They also found the house she grew up in and shared pictures of her wearing nice clothes in an attempt to smear her working-class background. Classy, right?
Now it is true that these are common tactics that the GOP has been using for decades, but there is something that seems different this time.
The 2018 midterms showed us a lot of people from different backgrounds stepping up to challenge the status quo. They decided that America cannot continue down this path in the Age of Trump, and wanted to do something about it. Most of those people were women.
Women all across America have become fed up with the misogyny of the president, and want to see real change brought to this country.
It is important to note that most of the high-profile women are women of color. Congress has often been associated with white men in their 70s and 80s but now it looks like Congress will begin to more accurately represent the citizens of the country.
It is also important to remember that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a woman, young, and Puerto Rican. It is important to notice this so you can understand the criticisms often weighed against her.
I've already mentioned her politics, but if you type her name into Google the suggestion box, instead of suggesting "Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez… healthcare reform" it will suggest "Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez... bikini."
If you make the mistake of watching Fox News, you will see panels of mostly men talk about her clothes and refer to her as "the little girl" and call into question her intelligence.
I don't think I need to explain the differences in how differently Ocasio-Cortez would be treated if she was a senile 80-year-old man that could trace his lineage back to Jamestown.
Unfortunately, most women do not need me, a man, to write an article about what they face in all industries. However, women who put themselves in the public eye, and choose to challenge men on political issues are faced with serious attacks. One need only look at the disgusting remarks made about high profile women in politics like Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama.
This type of hatred is directed towards conservative women as well. There are large numbers of people that allege that Sarah Palin was only picked to be the Vice Presidential nominee because she's perceived as attractive to middle-aged suburban men. During the Republican primary, President Trump stated that Carly Fiorina was unfit to be president because she was not attractive enough to him.
However, I personally believe there is hope. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez uses her youth to her advantage on Twitter. Her refusal to back down from the institutions of power shows a resilience that continues to attract people hopeful for a better future. And ultimately, she is stronger than her opponents because she is fighting for a cause rather than just trying to quell opposition. People admire her optimism in a time where cynicism seems to be the only logical emotion to feel. These new threats to the status quo could finally be a change for all Americans.
In these difficult times it's important to pay close attention to figures like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, so you can be reminded to be proud to be an American.