By: Jeremy Skinner, Managing Editor, J.D. Candidate, May 2019, St. Thomas University School of Law.

Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez; better known as “AOC”, is a twenty-nine-year-old rookie member of Congress representing the 14th congressional district, that has garnered large media attention for a variety of reasons. While some news outlets have focused on her attire as she was sworn into office, others have focused on her ability to start conversations that in the past have seemed far-fetched. If there is a consensus amongst all news outlets, it is that AOC does not fit the mold of a “traditional” member of Congress.

AOC is turning heads with her “unconventional” ideas for change. So far, she has offered ideas to increase taxes on the wealthy to pay for the “green new deal.” The “green new deal” is aimed at combating the elimination of fossil fuels which have been proved to harm the environment. AOC, a democratic socialist has offered other policies that mirror another democratic socialist’s (Bernie Sanders) policies, including universal healthcare. Although AOC has received harsh criticism from both republicans and democrats, she is not backing down.

While Bernie Sanders proved that he had some fight still in him last election, there is something that separates AOC from Bernie Sanders, her youth. Many critics consider AOC’s youth a flaw because she is inexperienced and perhaps unfamiliar with politics. But, these very same critics fail to realize that her youth could very well be her advantage. If there was something in common amongst republicans and democrats before this previous election, it was the commonality in age. In 2016, Congressmen and Congresswomen had an average age of fifty-six years. While many traditionalists approve of this average age, there is a large population; mostly comprised of millennials, including AOC, that want to see a young wave ripple through Congress.

Despite that AOC has received a lot of criticism for her expressive voice, her attire, and her age, there is something to be said about someone who is willing to endure such criticism in order to make a positive change. While she may make mistakes from time-to-time or may not represent everyone’s interests, there is something positive that we can take away from her tenure, a fiery passion that will not be bought. AOC has pledged not to accept any campaign donations from any political action committees. Furthermore, it is important to remember that AOC represents the 14th Congressional District, not the American People ( at least not yet).

Therefore, her ideas are meant to benefit the 14th district, not the entirety of America. While it may benefit America from time-to-time, it is important to remember her base, a youthful and progressive group of New Yorkers. While she may have a lot to learn as she continues in her young political career, she has already gained national attention, has been appointed to the House Financial Services Committee, and has gained a huge following. Even if AOC fails in her progressive endeavors, one thing is certain, she has already changed the political game in the future as more young and progressive; similar to her base, will seek to run for political office.