“I am the people I work for,” tweeted Congresswoman-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, garnering over 16,000 retweets and more than 109,000 likes.
My dad died when I was 18, my mom scrubbed toilets + drove drove schoolbuses, I bartended to help her, and still won a Congressional primary at 28.
I’ll take my family over a fat bank account any day, and my experience makes me a better legislator.
I am the people I work for. https://t.co/NMWGeUIwNS
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@Ocasio2018) November 20, 2018
Ocasio-Cortez, aged 29 and the youngest woman to ever be elected to Congress, will represent New York’s 14th Congressional District in the House of Representatives come January 3, 2019. She is described as a Democratic Socialist and beat out Joe Crowley in the most stunning upset of the midterm elections. Throughout her campaign, she utilized the popular photo-sharing app Instagram as a way of keeping supporters updated with her actions and engaged with her message. She continued to do so upon arriving in Washington D.C. for member orientation (‘Congress Camp’), taking viewers alongside her inside Capitol Hill. Her follower count has reached 821,000.
Comparing the experience to high school orientation, Ocasio-Cortez detailed their assigned reading material, shortcuts around campus, and groups formed – all the while juggling lobbyists and activists outside their doors. She’s a member of the newer generation coming to powerful positions; as a millennial herself, Ocasio-Cortez employed the tools available with the goal of making the government system as accessible and un-intimidating as possible.
A perfect culmination of the aforementioned objective: Ocasio-Cortez took to Instagram Live, the app’s video streaming tool, on a Sunday night to discuss public policy while cooking black bean soup with 5,000 of her followers. She did the same a few days after while making mac-n-cheese.
Some took these livestreams and drew parallels to Franklin D. Roosevelt’s fireside chats. Between 1933 and 1944, FDR gave a series of 30 evening radio addresses, speaking “with familiarity to millions of Americans.” He addressed high-profile issues with the tone one would use to talk to a close friend. Ocasio-Cortez’s baked bean streams, to some, are the same message and intention placed in the context of the 21st century.
Is this the new age for politics and the everyday man? Has a girl from the Bronx taken a step – a potentially very significant one – toward connection between the American and the government? With Instagram Live – is it that easy?
Some do say no. A common narrative is that Instagram, and other social media, fall under corrupt ownership and are open gateways for political interference.
The same Instagram that is owned by Facebook? The same Facebook that made bank off of election interference? On the same internet that remains unregulated with regard to amplifying lies and international propaganda?
— shellywebber (@shellywebber) November 20, 2018
Others criticize Ocasio-Cortez as a try-hard. Relatability is the smoke millennials and Gen Z try to catch with bare hands – a mission that often veers towards ‘cringey’ or overdone.
Unpopular opinion: Ocasio-Cortez's instagram reminds me of a Daily Show bit about Sarah Palin where anytime a reporter came to her home she'd conveniently be in the middle of cooking. "Oh, you caught me at my most relatable!"
— Herostratus (@Herostratus356) November 20, 2018
However her actions are perceived, Ocasio-Cortez did something different. It is something that can ultimately be deemed true to and good for her supporters; an accurate representation of the political climate she stepped into. “Thank you for empowering me,” she said. “I am the people I work for.”
Photo: Automate News