Thanks to their overwhelming support of congressional candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, citizens from New York City’s outer boroughs helped make history by voting in the youngest woman ever elected to the House of Representatives on Tuesday, November 6.
With nearly 400 of 449 precincts reporting by 11:00 p.m. on Election Day 2018, the Associated Press announced Ocasio-Cortez as winner of the 14th House district seat by way of a landslide victory over Republican challenger Anthony Pappas. By press time, the burgeoning Democratic Socialist had accrued 78.9 percent of the district’s vote to 13.1 percent for Pappas. In having recently celebrated her 29th birthday, the record books now place Ocasio-Cortez ahead of Republican Congresswoman Elise Stefanik, who in 2015 won New York’s 21st district seat at age 30.
Ocasio-Cortez’s victory comes just months after she became the darling of the left on the national political stage. In only one year’s time, the daughter of Puerto Rican parents went from working as a bartender at a Union Square restaurant to defeating Democratic primary favorite Rep. Joe Crowley in the district covering parts of the Bronx and Queens. The upset was viewed by many as significant, not only because as a 10-term servant, Crowley was the fourth-ranking member of the House, but also because the favoring of her left-leaning policy platform seemed to suggest that on a microcosmic level, there is a real movement building among Democratic voters to push the party to the left.
“We have made history on multiples levels,” @Ocasio2018 says. “We have elected the first person of color to ever represent the people of New York’s 14th district. ...it is a privilege and an honor to say the we have also elected the youngest woman in history” to Congress pic.twitter.com/olGvYrO2Bd— Claire Lampen (@claire_lampen) November 7, 2018
As has been noted in the Huffington Post‘s coverage of her victory, Ocasio-Cortez was among a crop of young progressive candidates who stepped forward to challenge the typical profile of representatives in government. Not only is her advocacy for legislation that would ensure government-subsidized health care for all, a $15 dollar minimum wage, free college tuition, and the abolition of ICE still viewed as radical in the larger U.S. political context, her identity as a young woman of color continues to make her an anomaly in modern American politics.
Thanks to her election on Tuesday night, along with victories claimed by the likes of the first black woman ever voted into Congress in Massachusetts, Ayanna Pressley, and the election of the first Muslim woman to the House with Rashida Tlaib in Michigan and Ilhan Omar in Minnesota, respectively, their presence within the chambers of government now becomes less obscure than it was only days ago.
“We launched this campaign because in the absence of anyone giving a clear voice on the moral issues of our time it is up to us to voice them,” Occasio-Cortez would open up her victory speech by stating. She’d later wind her address down by putting out a call to action for her base to continue carrying their aims for systemic change through the political process with their end goals in mind.
“We have come to something beautiful and great tonight, but we have to keep on engaging our activism and our organizing, and our educating because that is what it’s going to take,” she said.