Ocasio-Cortez is not your average American politician, hence the disdain.
It’s no secret that political power is usually afforded to those who fit squarely into three categories: male, pale, and stale. And since we’re talking about America, why not add in ‘Yale’ for good measure, because Ivy League universities, aka pipelines to success for the wealthiest 1 per cent, churn out graduates who dominate American politics.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez fails to conform to this rather predictable white-wealthy-man-brigade. No one expected a former bartender, born and raised in the Bronx to a migrant family, to become the youngest ever US congresswoman— least of all Ocasio-Cortez herself.
But boomers can’t seem to handle her success.
Despite being subject to daily vitriolic comments, meaning her morning often begins with reading death threats over coffee (what a pastime), Ocasio-Cortez won the democratic primary in the 14th Congressional district on June 23. USA Today described the result as a ‘blowout win’, effectively securing her reelection. No wonder boomers feel threatened.
When it comes to Ms Ocasio-Cortez, the only guarantee (aside from her success) is that she will be criticised for every detail of her life; from having taken part in an innocuous dancing video at university, down to the minutiae of her hairstyle choices. As the old adage goes, she simply can’t do right for doing wrong.
Five triggers for hating AOC
1. Being female
In a patriarchal society, men, especially the non-woke kind, are not used to being led by women. It takes away their God-given right to mansplain (how else can their fragile egos be stroked?)
Last month, AOC was the victim of a sexist attack by Republican Ted Yoho, who called her a ‘fu**ing bitch’. Perhaps what was most chilling was that it happened in front of the press, demonstrating how misogynists believe they can act with impunity even beneath the glare of the media.
In the comeback of the century, however, she slayed her opponent, challenging his pitiful ‘but I’m a father and husband … so how can I be sexist’ narrative, with:
‘I am two years younger than Mr Yoho’s daughter. I am someone’s daughter too […] When you do that to any woman, what Mr. Yoho did was give permission to other men to do that to his daughters’.
So long for using your wife and daughters as moral shields, Ted.
2. Being a millennial
Millennials have a bad rep — according to boomers, we are the victims of our own careless expenditure on avocado on toast, overpriced flat whites and cacti. If it weren’t for these futile purchases, we would all be moneyed property tycoons by now …
But being millennial and female is especially heinous, according to Donald Trump, who called AOC a ‘Young woman who is not talented’. The fact that the term ‘young woman’ has been weaponised as an insult speaks volumes about the lack of value society places on us. Other than that, the comment is pretty insipid — it’s almost as if a 7-year-old is employed to generate insults behind the scenes.
And, speaking of children, the president continued his double-edged ageist/sexist onslaught by saying
‘[AOC] knows as much about the environment … as that young child over there, I think he knows more’.
Perhaps he was trying to divert attention from the growing number of memes comparing him to a gigantic baby.
Isn’t it rather ironic that youth, when applied to women, is seen as such a fatal flaw, yet when applied to men is taken as a gift. Paul Ryan was hailed a ‘genius’ when he was elected to congress aged 28 in 1998, yet AOC was called a ‘fraud’ after winning her New York congressional primary at the same age. Talk about double standards.
3. Being a woman of colour
Women of colour are grossly underrepresented in American politics, making up just 9 per cent of the total 535 members of Congress, despite making up around 37.6 per cent of the female American population. So it is disheartening, but not surprising, that AOC has been subject to scathing racist and xenophobic attacks throughout her time as political figurehead.
Donald Trump has not even attempted to veil his bigotry. In 2019, he suggested that AOC, along with three other congresswomen Ayanna Pressley, Ilhan Abdullahi Omar, and Rashida Tlaib, (dubbed the ‘squad’) should ‘go back and help fix the totally broken and crime-infested places from which they came’.
Of course, AOC’s rebuttal was flawless, as per usual. With that boundless emotional intelligence which we’ve all come to know and love, she replied:
‘You are angry because you can’t conceive of an America that includes us. You rely on a frightened America for your plunder’.
In one tweet, she managed to name all two of Mr Trump’s emotions.
4. Being working class
From the outset of her 2018 campaign, AOC was an underdog in the race against 10-term congressman Joe Crawley, who was backed by Wall Street titans. That she won at all is a testament to her power, which knows no monetary value. In her viral campaign ad, she addressed Crawley’s financial advantage, saying:
‘This race is about people versus money … We’ve got people. They’ve got money’.
AOC came from humble beginnings. Her Puerto Rican mother cleaned houses during her childhood, whilst her father owned a small business as an architect. Sadly, he passed away whilst she was in college.
After graduating from Boston university, she juggled waitressing, bartending and non-profit work to support her mother, who was cleaning houses and driving buses to survive. Most normal people, you know, the type possessing a shred of human empathy, would applaud such sacrifice. Yet some boomers failed to see the value in her stalwart nature. Piers Morgan openly mocked AOC’s blue-collar past when defending the President’s daughter in a tweet, saying:
‘Could be worse … Ivanka could have been a bartender 18 months ago’.
‘Imagine if more people in power spent years of their lives actually working for a living. We’d probably have healthcare and living wages by now’.
Doesn’t she just radiate relatability and BFF energy?
5. Being bilingual
According to her critics, AOC can’t even pronounce her own name right.
Joseph DiGenova, famous for almost, but not quite, clinching the spot of Donald Trump’s lawyer (imagine that as a claim to fame), accused her of doing ‘the Latina thing where she does her, you know, “Anastasio Ocasio-Cortez”, misstating her name and using an exaggerated “rr” accent’. Imagine living in a sad little world where you assume that Anglo-pronunciation is the norm.
AOC, however, celebrates the strength in linguistic diversity. In an epic twitter battle against Shaun King, she said:
‘Bilingualism is a huge advantage in the economy + the world … NYC restaurants give the UN a run for its money: when I worked in one we all learned bits of Bengali, Bambara, Eng + Span’.
The only additional language available to most boomers is twitter-trash-talk. In comparison, AOC’s second language enables her to connect with an estimated 41m native speakers in the US (equating to 13 per cent of the population).
Judging by AOC’s history of landslide wins, boomers could do with a bit of buena suerte in the next election. Is it any wonder they are triggered?