Awwww, what’s the matter? Did turning yourself into a media lightning-rod and social media ‘influencer’ make having a private life difficult?
When you build your brand around kissing up to the DC paparazzi, life changes a little.
Awfully sorry if proclaiming yourself ‘The Boss now’ has cramped your style.
Every 10 minutes or so, someone knocks on the big wooden door of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s office on Capitol Hill. The noise makes staffers stiffen. It’s almost always a harmless fan, one of dozens who arrive each day, leaving neon-colored Post-it notes as devotional offerings. But in her first three months in Congress, aides say, enough people have threatened to murder Ocasio-Cortez that Capitol Police trained her staff to perform risk assessments of her visitors.
This is the daily reality for America’s newest human Rorschach test. Wonder Woman of the left, Wicked Witch of the right, Ocasio-Cortez has become the second most talked-about politician in America, after the President of the United States. Since beating 10-term incumbent Joe Crowley in the Democratic primary to represent New York’s 14th District last June, the 29-year-old former bartender has pressured 2020 presidential candidates into supporting her Green New Deal, made campaign-finance reform go viral and helped activists banish Amazon from Queens with a couple of tweets. No lawmaker in recent memory has translated so few votes into so much political and social capital so quickly. Her Twitter following has climbed from about 49,000 last summer to more than 3.5 million. Thousands of people tune in to watch her make black-bean soup or re-pot her houseplants on Instagram Live. Immediately after she tweeted the name of her signature red lipstick—Beso, by Stila—it sold out online.
At the same time, she’s a freshman legislator trying to get the hang of her first big full-time job. “I miss being able to go outside in sweats,” she says in her office one day in March, settling into a black leather chair after a long day of subcommittee hearings. She’s much smaller than she looks on TV, with a warm but cautious manner. “I can’t go anywhere in public and just be a person without a lot of people watching everything I do.”
Ocasio-Cortez represents one vision of the Democratic Party’s future. She’s a young Hispanic woman, three cornerstones of the party’s electoral coalition. She’s a democratic socialist at a time when confidence in capitalism is declining, especially among progressive millennials. The issues she ran on—a Green New Deal, Medicare for All, a federal jobs guarantee, abolishing ICE—are animating a new generation of Democrats. She’s a political phenomenon: part activist, part legislator, arguably the best storyteller in the party since Barack Obama and perhaps the only Democrat right now with the star power to challenge President Donald Trump’s.
She DID know that making yourself famous comes with some changes to how you live your life, didn’t she? Wasn’t that the whole point of her activism?
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