We're broke but she's willing to admit it: Millennials in Congress
This Friday, Fox News relentlessly dug into newly elected representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez over comments she made about struggling to find an apartment in Washington DC. She said that she has “three months without salary before (she’s) a member of congress,” to The New York Times and that she wasn’t sure how she can afford an apartment in the meantime. The hosts of this show read her quotes through smirks and chuckles as “self-declared socialist says she can’t afford DC rent” was displayed on a banner across the bottom of the screen.
They, once again, question her validity as a democratic socialist because of the expensive suits she wore in a photoshoot (suits that do not belong to her and were borrowed for the photoshoot), and say that the price of those suits, (that once again, are not hers,) could pay for a couple months rent.
The icing on the cake is Fox news criticizing her leftist validity once more by bringing up that she also lived in Westchester County, New York for parts of her “formative years,” because it is “a little ritzier than the Bronx.”
Fox goes from making fun of Ocasio-Cortez for not having enough money to be one of the democrat elites to making fun of her for having a little too much to really be a socialist, and honestly, this makes her the ideal millennial politician. This is why young people love her.
Every young leftist has heard a million times before that they can’t be against capitalism if they have an iPhone or they can’t be a socialist if they’re buying avocado toast, yet these same iPhones having, Starbucks drinking millennials are working for bottom of the barrel wages, struggling to pay rent, and still shoveling out from under their student loans. They’re your uber drivers, your interns, your cubicle jockeys and, like Ocasio-Cortez, your bartenders. And they’re frustrated. They’re frustrated that they’re working full time jobs and more, yet splitting rent with 4 roommates in a three-bedroom flat. They’re frustrated that they’re degrees in history and journalism and film still end with them working unpaid internships for “experience and exposure” a check-out counter for minimum wage. They’re frustrated that life requires more money to get by than ever before and fewer and fewer skill sets are actually rewarded with livable wages. And they’re frustrated that every meal, every shirt, every cup of coffee they buy is a reason that these complaints aren’t valid.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez gives young broke Americans a voice. She makes sure that the House of Representatives will represent the working-class millennial, because unlike the old and moneyed democrats who have been in politics for years, she’s one of us. She knows what we go through on a daily basis. She knows what its like to eat ramen or Kraft mac and cheese for dinner three nights in a row because I’d be willing to bet, she did that less than six months ago. She’s the first politician a lot of us can look to and think “maybe things will get better.”
Ocasio-Cortez embodies the hard-working millennial who’s sick of being painted as the lazy kid looking for handouts. She shows us that politics are not all about those who have deciding what those who don’t can access. She shows us that congress can still give us a representative who represents us.
My struggles are not equal to Ocasio-Cortez’s. I’m a straight white cis-gendered male who comes from a wealthy enough family that finances are not my primary worry in day to day life while I navigate college. But those days are coming for me when I graduate in two years’ time, and they’re already here for friends and family I see every day. The successful among us aren’t there because of hard work and grit, they’re there because of luck and privilege. But not her. Ocasio-Cortez shows us we can earn a better world through grassroots organizing, through grinding the soles of our shoes to nothing while we canvas city blocks, not through going along with a system that wants to exploit us, but by demanding it changes to accommodate us.