Opinion│Decoding Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s sensationalisation

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Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC), the youngest woman in Congress, is one of the USA’s most popular politicians. She is a member of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), an organisation that believes in abolishing capitalism. In the last couple of years, the former bartender’s Twitter has climbed from 49k to 8.5 million followers. She is one of the trendiest politicians online. As soon as she tweeted about her signature lipstick 𑁋 Beso by Stila, it got sold out. She is also one of the inspirations behind the ‘black and white’ selfie trend on Instagram, which saw more than 3 million posts on the platform. 

Why is AOC so ‘trendy’?

Alexandria Cortez is exceptionally efficient in how she presents herself on her social media. Her ex-Director of Communications, Corbin Trent, told Rolling Stone that Ocasio’s motivation is “…to be as open and transparent as possible, to give people an insight into what a freshman Congressperson is like, to give them some insight into what their government’s like, and hopefully make politics seem less foreign and unapproachable.” 

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Her attempt to make the workings of the government more relatable makes the public view her favourably.

The extensive media coverage on Cortez

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Cristine Abram, a Public Relations and Influencer Marketing Manager for Later, told the NY Times that AOC’s viral video that called out Representative Ted Yoho for a ‘sexist’ remark might have been one of the reasons behind the ‘black and white selfie’ trend on Instagram.

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Ocasio’s passionate speech against Yoho for calling her ‘a fucking b***h’ on the Capitol steps saw positive reinforcements from most media coverages. It got viral on Youtube and Instagram, while Guardian hailed her speech, calling it ‘powerful’ and Vox declared it ‘a speech against misogyny’.

Ted Yoho refuted AOC’s claims. He said,“..to apologise for what I’m being accused of…I can’t apologise because I didn’t say that to her..”

While we can’t trace the exact version of the events, it is a general consensus that derogatory remarks as a form of political dissent do not represent civility. Most media-houses agreed to this assessment. Still, they did not practise this moral uniformity when they reported incidents similar to what allegedly happened to Cortez. A deeper look into the four congresswomen’s Squad’ of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley and Rashida Tlaib will reveal this selective journalism.

Rashida Tlaib, a member of this squad and a political peer to AOC, expressed her disapproval for Trump by saying,“ We are going to impeach that motherf****r.” She even sold t-shirts endorsing the same message that included the swear word as part of her campaign fundraiser.

 Interestingly, Alexandria Ocasio directly defended Tlaib’s curse word in her tweet.

 

There seems to be a large consensus that abusive language as a form of political dissent is not suitable. Why is Rashida then excused from this benchmark? Well, it is partly because of the different contexts of the situations. Trump’s locker room talk is by no means excusable, but this article exaggerates the varied coverage to highlight a critical factor in AOC’s success. It is Populism 𑁋 the driving force of change from time immemorable. 

“A political approach that strives to appeal to ordinary people who feel that their concerns are disregarded by established elite groups.”
Source: Oxford Dictionary

Populism compartmentalises society into ‘pure people’ and ‘corrupt elite’. AOC, an Inclusionary Populist, politicises the existing social inequalities as part of her politics, which helps her gain a lot of public support. Her massive accomplishment from being a bartender to the youngest congresswoman makes her relatable, inspiring and a perfect poster role model for many young adults in the USA.

Her fame doesn’t come without its repercussions. Like any other human, AOC has had her own set of slip us. 

In an interview with Washington Post, Ocasio said, “…A lot of people are concerned with being precisely, factually and semantically correct than about being morally right..”

Later, when probed by the interviewer, she conceded that being factually correct was important, but her mistakes weren’t as grave as ‘Trump lying about immigration’. Clumsy statements like these make it easier for the right-leaning news outlets’ to paint AOC as an antagonist. Yet, it again results in extensive media coverage, helping her gain popularity while also affecting her approval ratings. Many people also think that she is too idealistic. Her plans to abolish U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Department of Homeland Security are radical for the current American policymakers. Yet, she still got elected and has a large segment of youth looking up to her. 

Ultimately, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a fresh face in US politics. She is young, relates to the working class and represents the marginalised communities. Only time will tell how compelling her political vision will be in shaping the country’s legislation. For now, she has a robust political future in front of her. 

Featured Image Credits: Jae C. Hong / NBC News

Other reads- NAVIGATING MY PLACE IN A NON-PLACE: MILLENNIALS AND THEIR URBAN SADNESS

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Vanshika Yadav
Vanshika Yadav found out her passion for Literature through Enid Blyton and Ruskin Bond. Fascinated and intrigued, she found herself pursuing a Bachelor’s in English Literature at the University of Delhi. For now, she fuels her insatiable obsession with words by writing about culture, politics and news. Find Vanshika’s other writings at www.vanshikayadav.in

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