7 Ways Ocasio-Cortez is *Already* Changing the Game in D.C.

Since her history-making victory in the New York primaries against a 10-term incumbent and becoming the youngest person ever elected to Congress, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has been terrifying many of her new colleagues, and we’re all here for it. From ambitious and frankly awe-inspiring proposed legislation to making politics more accessible right on her own Instagram and Twitter, Ocasio-Cortez has been turning D.C. upside down before she’s even officially taken office.

Related: Who is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez?

1. She’s not wealthy, unlike many politicians

Ocasio-Cortez made headlines not long after the election when she tweeted about being unable to afford an apartment in DC until her congressional salary kicks in when Congress returns in January. Her openness about her financial struggles prompted many to mock her (we’re looking right at you, Fox News), but this captures the reality for many millennials and young people right now. When she was followed by a reporter at an orientation and called out for her clothes not “looking like a girl who struggles,” Ocasio-Cortez responded saying “the actual fear driving these attacks on my clothes, my checking account, my rent, isn’t that these folks are scared I shouldn’t represent people in Congress. It’s fear that they’ve allowed their riches, their privilege and their bias to put them in a point where they can’t.”

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2. She thinks unpaid internships are a scam

The reality for many Capitol Hill workers and interns is that the positions are largely unpaid -- and for former college students entering the workforce in industries across the board, you’re made to feel guilty for leaving unpaid positions and asking for money. After taking to Twitter to criticize the fact that while every member of congress is given a sum of money to pay all it’s employees and interns, very few members actually chose to pay them. Ocasio-Cortez vowed to “walk the walk” and pay all of her interns at least $15 an hour, stating that even though only 8% of House Republicans and 4% of House Democrats pay their interns, “we will be one of them.” We’re all hoping more members of Congress and companies follow her lead!

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3. Medicare for all is not a question for her

Although the $21 trillion fumble made us cringe, we appreciate the strength of her conviction that America should join the scores of other developed nations offering universal healthcare to their citizens. On her campaign website she says, “at this point in the US, we’ve tried almost every other system of healthcare, and we know it doesn’t work. The Affordable Care Act was a great step forward to insure the previously “uninsurable,” but for many Americans, costs are still far too high. The prices of co-pays, premiums and deductibles are skyrocketing. We’re paying more for less every year. Improving Medicare and extending it to all Americans can fix these problems.” Honestly, we couldn’t agree more.

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Related: Everything you Need to Know about Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

4. She’s already willing to lay her career on the line for what she believes in

Days after arriving in Washington for orientation, Ocasio-Cortez joined student protesters fighting for climate change legislation. When asked why she was putting herself in such a position before even being sworn in, she said she “can confirm, I was terrified. But then I visitied those kids, some of whom were just 16, 17 years old, and were preparing to get arrested. They were risking college admission, schooling, everything. I figured if they put so much on the line for this, I should too.” One thing that we think has been missing in most of our politicians is that sense of duty to themselves, their ideals and their constituents over re-election and campaign donations, so we couldn’t be more happy to see her going out and fighting for what she believes in regardless of the consequences.

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5. She’s a champion of transforming government transparency

Transparency in the modern age is very different than what it has been in the past and Ocasio-Cortez has worked since before she was elected to make herself -- and by extension, all of Washington politics -- accessible. From documenting her new-member orientation to doing long live streams about political issues and voicing her support for issues on Twitter, she has taken all of us along for the ride in a way that’s very different from other Washington politicians, and has pulled back the heavy curtain guarding many political processes.  

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6. Before even being sworn in, she’s garnered widespread support for the Green New Deal

Ocasio-Cortez has thrown down the gauntlet about climate change -- as have many other politicians -- and has been an advocate for a “Green New Deal” and a congressional committee dealing solely with climate change. Before even being sworn in, she has been joined by 19 of her colleagues in this initiative and we’re hoping even more continue to step up about this issue because we’re quickly running out of time to turn back and fix the damage done to the planet. Ocasio-Cortez responded to statements made by the White House Press Secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, by stating that “a Green New Deal will take a level of ambition on the scale of the moon landing. We’ve done it before and can do it again.”

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7. She’s truly fighting for all of us

As the youngest person ever elected to the House of Representatives and a former waitress, she has rapidly proven herself as the best representation for working class Americans of all ages. From pointing out the disparity between health care for members of Congress and working class Americans to clapping back at her critics in the most eloquent way possible, she’s quickly proving herself to be one of the champions of everyday Americans on Capitol Hill.

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Related: American Dream: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

We’re all counting down the days until the start of the new session of Congress to see what she and all of the other new members do with their new positions. We hope Ocasio-Cortez continues to follow the pattern she’s set since announcing her run for office and that more of our government officials join her in this.