The youngest woman ever elected to Congress

Fresh face: Ocasio-Cortez was working as a waitress before she ran for Congress. © Getty

Is anything really going to change? At 29, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is officially America’s youngest ever congresswoman. In her victory speech, she promised that “a better world is possible.”

“These struggles that we are taking on are long,” Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez told her supporters on Tuesday night. “This is the fight for our lives; this is the fight of our lives.”

The 29-year-old had just been elected to a seat in the House of Representatives for the first time. She is now the youngest congresswoman in US history.

In fact, Tuesday’s midterm elections led to a whole host of firsts and broken records. More women have been elected to Congress than ever before. It has its first Native American women, and its first Muslim women.

Since Trump became president in 2017, women have been leading the protests against him. According to Pew, 70% of millennial women now support the Democrats (the party which opposes Trump), compared to 56% four years ago.

As a young, working-class Latina woman, Ocasio-Cortez is symbolic of this new strand of the Democratic Party.

As a democratic socialist, she is also part of its left-wing faction. Her policies include universal health care; abolishing the agency which deports illegal immigrants; and scrapping university tuition fees.

“We have a crooked path and it is time to make that crooked path straight,” she said on Tuesday. “A better world is possible.”

Can she really change things?

“Yes she can!”

Of course, say her fans. She represents something new in US politics: a young, fresh, optimistic wave which is determined to shake things up. Her message is clearly resonating with ordinary people. It will take a long time, but hers is a name to remember.

She will find it incredibly difficult, say others. Her ideas might be popular in New York, but she will find it much harder to convince the rest of the country — especially while Trump is still president. The longer she stays in politics, the more compromises she will end up making.

You Decide

  1. Do young people make better politicians?

Activities

  1. Imagine you have just been elected to Congress in America. What would be your top three priorities for the country?

Some People Say...

“Women in politics are more honest and forthright. We are not in it for the ego gratification.”

Hanan Ashrawi

What do you think?

Q & A

What do we know?
Ocasio-Cortez won her seat in the House of Representatives with 78% of the vote. The Democrats will now control the House of Representatives but not the Senate, meaning Congress is split.
What do we not know?
Whether the Democratic Party will choose a left-wing candidate to challenge Trump in 2020, or someone from the political centre, as they did with Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Word Watch

House of Representatives
The lower legislative chamber in America, with 435 seats.
Congress
The name for the House and the Senate (the upper chamber).
Pew
Published in March this year. For contrast, 49% of millennial men support the Democrats.
Latina
A woman from Latin America.
Democratic socialist
Socialism is the idea that wealth should be shared equally. It is the opposite of capitalism. The Democratic Socialists of America say they believe “society should be run democratically — to meet public needs, not to make profits for a few.”

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