Smart and savvy Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez enlivens politics for Gen-Z and beyond

March 11, 2019

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Official Portrait, US House of Representatives [Public domain]

Politics aren’t exactly known for their entertainment value, but US Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (the youngest Rep. ever at just 29) uses social media to make political communication fun and accessible, something her older colleagues could learn from.

For starters, Ocasio-Cortez has a great sense of humour and her witty Twitter takedowns of people who mock her often go viral, earning her over 3 million followers and making her one of the most entertaining politicians on the platform. But what’s more, she takes full advantage of the two-way communication such platforms allow, encouraging political participation by interacting with her supporters and critics alike.

Her Insta game is also strong. She uses the live feature to talk politics, connecting directly to her 2.5 million followers and answering their questions while she cooks dinner. This is the kind of situation many politicians try to avoid, as speaking candidly (not to mention live!) increases an individual’s chance of messing up and being called out for it. But Ocasio-Cortez is willing to take that risk, and as a result she achieves a level of transparency that most politicians (many with careers far older than hers) fail to attain.

Social Media – Power in Politics

Her dedication to transparency can also be witnessed in a recent viral video of the ‘lighting round’ game she played during a hearing of the Committee, in which she savagely exposed just how easy it is for wealthy donors to corrupt politics. The video currently boasts over 38 million views, making it the most viewed video of any politician on Twitter. One reason why the video went viral is that it’s incredibly entertaining to watch. Ocasio-Cortez’s line of questioning is clever and she proves her point with such ease that it rivals the best courtroom dramas on TV. But the other reason behind the video’s success is that it’s also incredibly easy to follow. Ocasio-Cortez isn’t trying to mystify politics or prove her point through elevated language, in fact, her goal is to do the opposite. She wants the American public to understand exactly what’s going on in their government and for them to get involved, something that her use of social media mirrors time and time again.

Ocasio-Cortez is paving the way for the next generation of American politicians in more ways than one. She’s proving the way Millennials and Gen Zers use social media is a valuable means of political communication, but she’s also part of a changing political landscape. While American politics is still dominated by old rich white men (and old rich white women, to a lesser extent) that’s starting to shift as more people with diverse backgrounds are being elected. The American Government needs more people like Ocasio-Cortez, a young Latinx woman from a working class family, to be a part of their team, because the more diverse the voices of the government are, the better it can serve its people. And as time goes on and Gen Zers start to get more involved in politics, that much needed diversity is bound to increase.

By Alex Barr