Just three weeks ago, I didn’t know about Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Even after she won against a powerful incumbent who had been in his position for years, I am ashamed to say, I didn’t hear a word of it. I was fixated on other things: finishing a couple of products that would be released on the AppStore, learning the new programming language Kotlin for a new Android contract and showering my girlfriend with attention. I just happened to stumble onto a video about her and was immediately enamoured; not because she is young and progressive but because she seems to espouse qualities that my generation seemed to value a great deal a few years ago – she has that quintessential millennial optimism and altruism. We, millennials, were told that we were part of a future hero generation and it finally feels like the heroes are beginning to emerge.
When conservative millennials started getting traction, it was inspiring because they used new platforms to talk about new ways of dealing with old subjects. When Allie Stuckey and Tomi Lahren burst onto the scene, it felt like they hogged the spotlight (and good for them) from liberal millennials. Although their firebrand disposition and winner-takes-all mentality sometimes offended my center-left sensibilities, they hit major points that resonated with their conservative viewers and they oozed charisma. Enter Ocasio-Cortez – the “millennial liberal savior”. She is authentic and has charisma for days; because she’s young, everything she says seems fresh and new. She also HITS the points that not only resonate with the American but GLOBAL middle and working class as well.
Now, let’s address the elephant in the room: DEMOCRATIC SOCIALISM. What is democratic socialism? According to Wikipedia, “democratic socialism is defined as having a socialist economy in which the means of production (including wealth) are socially and collectively owned or controlled alongside a politically democratic system of government”. The point I would like to emphasise is that democratic socialists, like members of other ideologies, exist on a spectrum – generally though, they are socialist about issues that deal with “extended” human rights like healthcare and free education. I have to confess: the first time I heard the term “democratic socialism” was when I discovered Noam Chomsky in my late teens. I grew up in a world where communism had created such shocking atrocities that it left millions of dead people in it’s wake – I knew that socialism was somewhat closer to communism so I immediately felt like I was doing something wrong by reading Chomsky – he described himself as a democratic socialist. I would later learn that almost everything necessary thing we partake in is in someway subsidised by government. Everything from pensions, healthcare and subsidising new industries is somewhere on the socialism spectrum. So, Ocasio -Ortiz delivers a message of social and economic justice that deeply resonates with the global masses – she’s like a REALLY young Bernie Sanders or a 21st Century Henry A. Wallace.
Millennials around the globe are yearning for a message that unifies the world along the same trajectory it was heading when we were growing up. To fully understand what I mean by that, it is important to understand early-millennial values within a socio-political context. If millennials are grouped as individuals born from 1981-1996, early millennials can be categorised as people born from 1981 to maybe 1990. There were global traumas like Colombine, 9/11 and the Enron scandal but there was a general acceptance that the world was headed in a certain direction – America, China and India were the global superpowers but they were not enemies. All in all, the world was becoming more cohesive both socially and economically. The 2008 recession created such widespread global despair that disenfranchised segments of the world could now be galvanised by local leaders to create nationalistic movements that were, up to that point, considered forgotten relics of the violent 20th century. Ocasio-Cortez reminds us of our social-liberal worldview before it was corrupted by the 2008 recession and she feels like one of the many that will put us (humanity) on our former, more-noble path.
We LOVE Ocasio-Cortez because she feels like one of us. She makes us feel the way we felt before our normal worldview was skewed by the endless financial, political and violent tragedies. She feels like the first raindrop in a thunderstorm of heroes. I don’t know the future – it may work out or it may not. What is REALLY great is that there are more people like her coming and that’s the silver lining in what has been a very dark cloud.