Opinion│Decoding Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s sensationalization

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Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC), the youngest woman in Congress, is one of the most popular politicians in the USA. 

She is a member of the Democratic Socialists of America(DSA), an organization who believes in the abolition of capitalism.

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The former bartender’s twitter has climbed from 49,000 to 8.5 million followers in the last two years. 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’?

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Alexandria Cortez is extremely clever 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

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

Ocasio’s speech against Ted Yoho for calling her ‘a fucking b***h’ on the steps of the Capitol saw positive reinforcements from most media coverages. The Guardian hailed her speech calling it ‘powerful’, while Vox declared it as ‘a speech against misogyny’.

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

Derogatory remarks as a form of political dissent do not represent civility, but most media houses do not practise this moral uniformity when they report incidents similar to what allegedly happened to Cortez.

A deeper look into the ‘Squad’ of the four congresswomen: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley and Rashida Tlaib will reveal this hypocrisy.

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 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 because of Populism.

“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 compartmentalizes society into ‘pure people’ and ‘corrupt elite’. AOC, an Inclusionary Populist politicizes the existing social inequalities as part of her politics, which in turn helps her gain a lot of support from the public.

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

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”.

The right-leaning news outlets’ substantial coverage of AOC as an antagonist is also helping her gain popularity, but it affects her approval ratings too.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a fresh face in US politics. She relates to the working class and represents the marginalized communities. However, many people think she is too idealistic.

Her plans to abolish U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Department of Homeland Security are too radical for the current American policymakers.

Only time will tell how effective her political vision will be in shaping the country’s legislation.

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
She is currently studying English Literature from the Hansraj College, University of Delhi. Read her other writings at www.vanshikayadav.in

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