AOC on the Fight for Abortion Rights and Whether Shell Ever Be President – GQ

Three decades later, I asked the congresswoman whom that newborn grew into whether she currently believes that she is powerful. Thats a good question, Ocasio-Cortez replied, pausing to consider her response. She said she doesnt define power as dominance over others, but that she does feel power over her own choices. Sometimes I dont feel powerful. Sometimes I feel very diminished, and sometimes I feel the least powerful here. I asked differently. Does she feel politically powerful?

Theres the political power of public opinion, she told me. Theres the political power of social movements. Theres a political power of platform, and in those ways I feel powerful. But since I got here, literally day one, even before day one, Ive experienced a lot of targeting diminishment from my party. And the pervasiveness of that diminishment, it was all-encompassing at times. I feel a little more steady on my own two feet now. But would I say that I have the power to shift the elected federal Democratic Party? No.

Indeed, upon her arrival, the response from parts of the Democratic Party establishment was undiluted spite. It was open hostility, open hostility to my presence, my existence, Ocasio-Cortez recalled.

Her first days in Congress were destined to be awkward. Crowley still chaired the Democratic caucus, meaning he was present for new-member orientation. Each newly elected Democrat was presented to their colleagues with music and a stadium-style introduction. From the first district of this state and that state, the congresswoman said, mimicking a booming announcers voice. It would just be like these huge claps and whatnot. And then it came to me. And it was very clear that the reception was not the same, just a smattering of applause.

At one point when Crowley was onstage, Ocasio-Cortez recalled that an older male member of Congress sat down next to her, gestured up at Crowley, and, apparently not aware of who he was talking to, said, Its a real shame that that girl won. I turned and I said, You know thats me, right? she recalled. And obviously, his face turns pale.

Crowley had been a revered figure, and his defeat amounted to a traumatic event for many elected Democrats. If he could be beaten, by a mouthy bartender no less, were any of them safe? Ocasio-Cortez soon became a symbola proxy, more than a fully realized personwhose every utterance could be mined for implications about the Democratic Partys ideological divides and the state of politics during the tumultuous Trump era.

Her every move prompted a breaking--news banner. President Trump soon seized on Ocasio-Cortez and the rest of The Squadthen an alliance of four progressive congresswomen of color all elected in 2018as a foil, leveling racist attacks against them in tweets and at his rallies. The women were all inundated with death threats.

A month after her election, in December 2018, Ocasio-Cortez had a two-hour lunch in the Senate Dining Room with Ed Markey, the Massachusetts senator involved in nearly every significant effort at climate and environmental legislation for decades. His then most recent attempt, in 2010, had passed the House but not the Senate. That bill had been 1,400 pages. Now, together, they wanted to try againand with legislation that was just 14 pages long. Markey was instantly impressed. It was clear to me that her knowledge was matched only by her clarity of purpose, Markey told me. We needed a movement. She was the generational leader to spark a revolution that would change the political dynamic of how climate change was viewed in Washington.

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AOC on the Fight for Abortion Rights and Whether Shell Ever Be President - GQ

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