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Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Official Portrait.jpg
Official portrait, 2019
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 14th district
Assumed office
January 3, 2019
Preceded by Joe Crowley
Personal details
Born (1989-10-13) October 13, 1989 (age 34)
New York City, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Other political
Working Families Party
Democratic Socialists of America
Domestic partners Riley Roberts (2009–present; engaged 2022)
Education Boston University (BA)

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (Listeni/ˌkɑːsi kɔːrˈtɛz/ oh-KAH-see-OH-_-KOR-tez, Spanish: [aleɣˈsandɾja oˈkasjo koɾˈtes]; born October 13, 1989), also known by her initials AOC, is an American politician and activist. She has served as the U.S. representative for New York's 14th congressional district since 2019, as a member of the Democratic Party.

On June 26, 2018, Ocasio-Cortez drew national recognition when she won the Democratic Party's primary election for New York's 14th congressional district. She defeated Democratic Caucus Chair Joe Crowley, a 10-term incumbent, in what was widely seen as the biggest upset victory in the 2018 midterm election primaries. She easily won the November general election, defeating Republican Anthony Pappas. She was reelected in the 2020 and 2022 elections.

Taking office at age 29, Ocasio-Cortez is the youngest woman ever to serve in the United States Congress. She has been noted for her substantial social media presence relative to her fellow members of Congress. Ocasio-Cortez attended Boston University, where she double-majored in international relations and economics, graduating cum laude. She was previously an activist and worked as a waitress and bartender before running for Congress in 2018.

Alongside Rashida Tlaib, Ocasio-Cortez was the first female member of the Democratic Socialists of America elected to serve in Congress. She advocates a progressive platform that includes support for workplace democracy, Medicare for All, tuition-free public college, a federal jobs guarantee, a Green New Deal, and abolishing the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Early life and education

Ocasio-Cortez was born in the New York City borough of the Bronx on October 13, 1989, the daughter of Sergio Ocasio-Roman and Blanca Ocasio-Cortez (née Cortez). She has a younger brother named Gabriel. Her father was born in the Bronx to a Puerto Rican family and became an architect; her mother was born in Puerto Rico. Ocasio-Cortez lived with her family in an apartment in the Bronx neighborhood of Parkchester until she was five, when the family moved to a house in suburban Yorktown Heights.

Ocasio-Cortez attended Yorktown High School, graduating in 2007. In high school and college, Ocasio-Cortez went by the name of "Sandy Ocasio". She came in second in the microbiology category of the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in 2007 with a research project on the effect of antioxidants on the lifespan of the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. In a show of appreciation for her efforts, the MIT Lincoln Laboratory named a small asteroid after her: 23238 Ocasio-Cortez. In high school, she took part in the National Hispanic Institute's Lorenzo de Zavala (LDZ) Youth Legislative Session. She later became the LDZ Secretary of State while she attended Boston University. Ocasio-Cortez had a John F. Lopez Fellowship.

After graduating from high school, Ocasio-Cortez enrolled at Boston University. Her father died of lung cancer in 2008 during her second year, and Ocasio-Cortez became involved in a lengthy probate battle to settle his estate. She has said that the experience helped her learn "first-hand how attorneys appointed by the court to administer an estate can enrich themselves at the expense of the families struggling to make sense of the bureaucracy". During college, Ocasio-Cortez was an intern for U.S. senator Ted Kennedy in his section on foreign affairs and immigration issues. In interviews, she claimed to have been the only Spanish speaker in the office and the sole person responsible for assisting Spanish-speaking constituents. Ocasio-Cortez graduated cum laude from Boston University in 2011 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in both international relations and economics.

Early career

After college, Ocasio-Cortez moved back to the Bronx and took a job as a bartender and waitress to help her mother—a house cleaner and school bus driver—fight foreclosure of their home. She later launched Brook Avenue Press, a now-defunct publishing firm for books that portrayed the Bronx in a positive light. Ocasio-Cortez also worked for the nonprofit National Hispanic Institute.

During the 2016 primary, Ocasio-Cortez worked as an organizer for Bernie Sanders's presidential campaign. After the general election, she traveled across America by car, visiting places such as Flint, Michigan, and Standing Rock Indian Reservation in North Dakota, and speaking to people affected by the Flint water crisis and the Dakota Access Pipeline. In an interview she recalled her December 2016 visit to Standing Rock as a tipping point, saying that before that, she had believed that the only way to run for office effectively was to have access to wealth, social influence, and power. But her visit to North Dakota, where she saw others "putting their whole lives and everything that they had on the line for the protection of their community", inspired her to begin to work for her own community. One day after she visited North Dakota, she got a phone call from Brand New Congress, which was recruiting progressive candidates (her brother had nominated her soon after Election Day 2016). She has credited Jabari Brisport's unsuccessful City Council campaign with restoring her belief in electoral politics, in running as a socialist candidate, and in Democratic Socialists of America as an organization.

U.S. House of Representatives



AOC for Congress 2018 logo
Ocasio-Cortez's congressional campaign logo was inspired by "revolutionary posters and visuals from the past".

Ocasio-Cortez began her campaign in April 2017 while waiting tables and tending bar at Flats Fix, a taqueria in New York City's Union Square. "For 80 percent of this campaign, I operated out of a paper grocery bag hidden behind that bar", she told Bon Appétit. She was the first person since 2004 to challenge Joe Crowley, the Democratic Caucus Chair, in the primary. She faced a financial disadvantage, saying, "You can't really beat big money with more money. You have to beat them with a totally different game." Ocasio-Cortez's campaign undertook grassroots mobilization and did not take donations from corporations. Her campaign posters' designs were said to have taken inspiration from "revolutionary posters and visuals from the past".

The candidates' only face-to-face encounter during the campaign occurred on a local political talk show, Inside City Hall, on June 15. The format was a joint interview conducted by Errol Louis, which NY1 characterized as a debate. A debate in the Bronx was scheduled for June 18, but Crowley did not participate. He sent former New York City Council member Annabel Palma in his place.


Ocasio-Cortez was endorsed by progressive and civil rights organizations such as MoveOn and Democracy for America. Then-Governor Cuomo endorsed Crowley, as did both of New York's U.S. senators, Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, multiple U.S. representatives, various local elected officials and trade unions, and groups such as the Sierra Club, the Working Families Party, and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, among others. California representative Ro Khanna, a Justice Democrat like Ocasio-Cortez, initially endorsed Crowley but later endorsed Ocasio-Cortez in an unusual dual endorsement.

Primary election
Kerri Evelyn Harris and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez 1 (cropped)
Ocasio-Cortez with Kerri Evelyn Harris

Ocasio-Cortez received 57.13% of the vote (15,897) to Crowley's 42.5% (11,761), defeating the 10-term incumbent by almost 15 percentage points on June 26, 2018. The result shocked many political commentators and analysts and immediately garnered nationwide attention. Many news sources, including Time, CNN, The New York Times, and The Guardian mentioned how the win completely defied their predictions and expectations. She was outspent by a margin of 18 to 1 ($1.5 million to $83,000) but won the endorsement of some influential groups on the party's left. Merriam-Webster reported that searches for the word socialism spiked 1,500% after her victory. Crowley conceded defeat on election night, but did not telephone Ocasio-Cortez that night to congratulate her, fueling short-lived speculation that he intended to run against her in the general election.

Bernie Sanders and Noam Chomsky congratulated her. Several commentators noted the similarities between Ocasio-Cortez's victory over Crowley and Dave Brat's Tea Party movement-supported 2014 victory over House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in the Republican primary for Virginia's 7th congressional district. Like Crowley, Cantor was a high-ranking member in his party's caucus. After her primary win, Ocasio-Cortez endorsed several progressive primary challengers to Democratic incumbents nationwide, capitalizing on her fame and spending her political capital in a manner unusual even for unexpected primary winners.

Without campaigning for it, Ocasio-Cortez won the Reform Party primary as a write-in candidate in a neighboring congressional district, New York's 15th, with a total vote count of nine, highest among all 22 write-in candidates. She declined the nomination.

General election

Ocasio-Cortez faced Republican nominee Anthony Pappas in the November 6 general election. Pappas, an economics professor, did not actively campaign. The 14th district has a Cook Partisan Voting Index of D+29, making it New York City's sixth-most Democratic district, with registered Democrats outnumbering Republicans almost six to one.

Ocasio-Cortez was endorsed by various politically progressive organizations and figures, including former president Barack Obama and U.S. senator Bernie Sanders. She spoke at the Netroots Nation conference in August 2018, and was called "the undisputed star of the convention".

Crowley remained on the ballot as the nominee of the Working Families Party (WFP) and the Women's Equality Party (WEP). Neither he nor the WFP party actively campaigned, both having endorsed Ocasio-Cortez after the Democratic primary. Ocasio-Cortez called the WEP, which Governor Cuomo created ahead of the 2014 New York gubernatorial election, a cynical, centrist group that endorsed male incumbents over female challengers like her and Cynthia Nixon. Former Connecticut senator Joe Lieberman, who won reelection in 2006 on a third-party line after losing the Democratic Primary in 2006, penned a July 17 column in the Wall Street Journal expressing hope that Crowley would actively campaign on the WFP ballot line. WFP Executive Director Dan Cantor wrote an endorsement of, and apology to, Ocasio-Cortez for the New York Daily News; he asked voters not to vote for Crowley if his name remained on the general election ballot.

Ocasio-Cortez won the election with 78% of the vote (110,318) to Pappas's 14% (17,762). Crowley, on the WFP and WEP lines, received 9,348 votes (6.6%). Her election was part of a broader Democratic victory in the 2018 midterm elections, as the party gained control of the House by picking up 41 seats. Saikat Chakrabarti, who had been her campaign co-chair, became chief of staff for her congressional office. Co-creator of two progressive political action committees, he has been called a significant political presence. His departure in 2019 drew considerable speculation as to whether Ocasio-Cortez was trying to implement a more moderate strategy.

Media coverage

The first media network to give Ocasio-Cortez a platform and extensively cover her campaign and policies was The Young Turks, a left-wing online news program. After her primary win, she quickly garnered nationwide media attention, including numerous articles and TV talk-show appearances. She also drew a great deal of media attention when she and Sanders campaigned for James Thompson in Kansas in July 2018. A rally in Wichita had to be moved from a theater with a capacity of 1,500 when far more people said they would attend. The event drew 4,000 people, with some seated on the floor. In The New Yorker, Benjamin Wallace-Wells wrote that while Sanders remained "the de-facto leader of an increasingly popular left, [he is unable to] do things that do not come naturally to him, like supply hope." Wallace-Wells suggested that Ocasio-Cortez had made Sanders's task easier, as he could point to her success to show that ideas "once considered to be radical are now part of the mainstream".

Until she defeated incumbent Joe Crowley in the 2018 Democratic primary, Ocasio-Cortez received little coverage on most traditional news media outlets. Jimmy Dore interviewed her when she first announced her candidacy in June 2017. After her primary win, Brian Stelter wrote that progressive-media outlets, such as The Young Turks and The Intercept, "saw the Ocasio-Cortez upset coming" in advance. Margaret Sullivan wrote in The Washington Post that traditional metrics of measuring a campaign's viability, like total fundraising, were contributing to a "media failure" and that "they need to get closer to what voters are thinking and feeling: their anger and resentment, their disenfranchisement from the centers of power, their pocketbook concerns."

Ocasio-Cortez's campaign was featured on the cover of the June 2018 edition of The Indypendent, a free New York City-based monthly newspaper. In a tweet she hailed the cover appearance on "NYC's classic monthly" as an important breakthrough for her campaign. Otherwise Ocasio-Cortez was barely mentioned in print until her primary win.

Ocasio-Cortez was one of the subjects of the 2018 Michael Moore documentary Fahrenheit 11/9; it chronicled her primary campaign.

In an attempt to embarrass Ocasio-Cortez just before she took office, Twitter user "AnonymousQ" shared a video dating to Ocasio-Cortez's college years: a Boston University student-produced dance video in which she briefly appeared. Many social media users came to her defense, inspiring memes and a Twitter account syncing the footage to songs like "Mambo No. 5" and "Gangnam Style". Ocasio-Cortez responded by posting a video of herself dancing to Edwin Starr's "War" outside her congressional office.

Elizabeth Warren wrote the entry on Ocasio-Cortez for 2019's Time 100. The documentary Knock Down the House, directed by Rachel Lears, which focuses on four female Democrats in the 2018 United States elections who were not career politicians—Ocasio-Cortez, Amy Vilela, Cori Bush and Paula Jean Swearengin—premiered at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. Ocasio-Cortez was the only one of the women featured in the film to win. It was released by Netflix on May 1, 2019. Ocasio-Cortez also appeared in Lears's 2022 film To the End, which focuses on the effects of climate change. The film debuted at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival and was presented at the Tribeca Film Festival in June 2022.


Michelle Caruso-Cabrera challenged Ocasio-Cortez in the 2020 Democratic primary. After Ocasio-Cortez won the nomination, Caruso-Cabrera reorganized and ran in the general election as the Serve America Movement nominee. Ocasio-Cortez's Republican challengers in the general election included nominee John Cummings, a former police officer, and Antoine Tucker, a write-in candidate.

The American Prospect wrote in October 2020 that Ocasio-Cortez was "spending the 2020 campaign running workshops" for constituents on workplace organizing, fighting eviction, and organizing collective childcare. They noted that Ocasio-Cortez was often not featured in the streamed workshops, saying the "strategy decentralizes the candidate from her own campaign."

On October 20, 2020, Ocasio-Cortez hosted a Twitch stream of the social deduction game Among Us, with fellow congresswoman Ilhan Omar, and many established streamers such as Pokimane, Hasan Piker, DrLupo, and mxmtoon. The stream peaked with over 400,000 viewers and, according to The Guardian's Joshua Rivera, succeeded in humanizing her. Ocasio-Cortez again streamed Among Us on Twitch on November 27, 2020, with Hasan Piker, xQc, ContraPoints and Canadian MP Jagmeet Singh to raise money for food pantries, eviction defense legal aid, and community support organizations to assist those suffering economic hardship during the COVID-19 pandemic. The stream raised $200,000 and Ocasio-Cortez wrote, "This is going to make such a difference for those who need it most right now."


Ocasio-Cortez was unopposed in the Democratic primary. She defeated Republican Tina Forte and Conservative Party nominee Desi Cuellar in the general election.


Taking office at age 29, Ocasio-Cortez is the youngest woman ever to serve in the United States Congress, and also the youngest member of the 116th Congress.

When the 116th Congress convened on January 3, 2019, Ocasio-Cortez entered with no seniority but with a large social media presence. Axios credited her with "as much social media clout as her fellow freshman Democrats combined". As of March 2021, she has 12 million Twitter followers, up from 1.4 million in November 2018 and surpassing Nancy Pelosi. She has 8.9 million Instagram followers as of January 2019 and 500,000 followers on Facebook as of February 2019. Her colleagues appointed her to teach them social media lessons upon her arrival in Congress. In early July 2019 two lawsuits were filed against her for blocking Joey Salads and Dov Hikind on Twitter in light of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that it was a violation of the First Amendment for President Trump to block people on Twitter. On November 4, 2019, it was announced that they settled the lawsuit with Ocasio-Cortez issuing a statement apologizing for the Twitter block.

In a 2019 interview, Ocasio-Cortez said she had stopped using her private Facebook account and was minimizing her usage of all social media accounts and platforms, calling them a "public health risk".


In November 2018, on the first day of congressional orientation, Ocasio-Cortez participated in a climate change protest outside the office of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. Also that month, she backed Pelosi's bid to be Speaker of the House once the Democratic Party reclaimed the majority on the condition that Pelosi "remains the most progressive candidate for speaker".

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Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Bernie Sanders in December 2018

During the orientation for new members hosted by the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Ocasio-Cortez wrote on Twitter in December 2018 about the influence of corporate interests by sponsors such as the American Enterprise Institute and the Center for Strategic and International Studies: "Lobbyists are here. Goldman Sachs is here. Where's labor? Activists? Frontline community leaders?"

When Ocasio-Cortez made her first speech on the floor of Congress in January 2019, C-SPAN tweeted the video. Within 12 hours, the video of her four-minute speech set the record as C-SPAN's most-watched Twitter video by a member of the House of Representatives.


In February 2019, speaking at a Congressional hearing with a panel of representatives from campaign finance watchdog groups, Ocasio-Cortez questioned the panel about ethics regulations as they apply to both the president and members of Congress. She asserted that no regulations prevent lawmakers "from being bought off by wealthy corporations". With more than 37.5 million views, the clip became the most-watched political video posted on Twitter.

When President Donald Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen appeared before the Oversight Committee in February 2019, Ocasio-Cortez asked him whether Trump had inflated property values for bank or insurance purposes and inquired where to get more information on the subject. Cohen's reply implied that Trump may have committed tax and bank fraud in his personal and business tax returns, financial statements and real-estate filings. The president of the American Constitution Society named Ocasio-Cortez as the committee member best at obtaining specific information from Cohen about Trump's "shady practices, along with a road map for how to find out more". New York Times columnist David Brooks praised her skill in questioning Cohen. The exchange between Ocasio-Cortez and Cohen prompted an investigation by New York Attorney General Letitia James, who referred to it in August 2020 when filing legal action to compel Trump's companies to comply with subpoenas about financial information, and to compel his son Eric Trump to testify.

Media coverage

Sanders rally Council Bluffs IMG 4014 (49036624512)
Sanders rally Council Bluffs, Iowa

According to reports in March 2019, Ocasio-Cortez continued to receive media coverage early in her congressional tenure on par with that of 2020 presidential candidates and was considered "one of the faces of the Democratic party" and one of the most talked-about politicians in the United States. Between July 8 and 14, 2019, she drew more social media attention than the Democratic presidential candidates. Tracking company NewsWhip found that interactions with news articles on Ocasio-Cortez numbered 4.8 million, while no Democratic presidential candidate got more than 1.2 million. David Bauder of the Associated Press wrote that Trump's supporters were thus having "some success" in having "Ocasio-Cortez be top of mind when people think of" the Democratic Party.

According to a Media Matters for America study, Ocasio-Cortez has been intensely discussed on sister television channels Fox News and Fox Business, being mentioned every day from February 25 to April 7, 2019, for a total of 3,181 mentions in 42 days (an average of around 75 per day). The Guardian's David Smith wrote that this is evidence that Fox is "obsessed by Ocasio-Cortez, portraying her as a radical socialist who threatens the American way of life". Brian Stelter of CNN Business found that between January and July 2019, she had nearly three times as many mentions on Fox News as on CNN and MSNBC, and seven times the coverage of James Clyburn, a Democratic leader in the House of Representatives. Stelter wrote that the attention Ocasio-Cortez is receiving has caused "the perception, particularly on the right, that her positions and policies are representative of the Democratic Party as a whole". In a CBS News and YouGov poll of almost 2,100 American adults conducted from July 17 to 19, it was found that Republican respondents were more aware of Ocasio-Cortez than Democratic respondents. She had very unfavorable ratings among Republican respondents and favorable ratings among Democratic respondents.

In March 2019, PolitiFact reported that Ocasio-Cortez is "one of the most targeted politicians for hoax claims, despite the fact that she just entered Congress as a freshman". Fake quotes attributed to her, fake photos of her, and false rumors about her have spread on social media.

Ocasio-Cortez is known to wear red lipstick, usually by the American makeup brand Stila Cosmetics in the shade "Beso", as a style trait of Latina women from the Bronx. In a skincare tutorial for Vogue, she explained that beauty and femininity are important to her because these things are often used against women in politics and society, and that self-love is like a "mini protest" against misogynistic critiques.

Met Gala appearance
Tax the Rich Graphic
Graphic representation of the Tax the Rich print from AOC's Met Gala dress

Ocasio-Cortez attended the 2021 Met Gala, which had the theme "In America: a Lexicon of Fashion". The Met Gala is an annual fundraiser for the Metropolitan Museum of Art that is overseen by Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour, who selects every invitee and designer pairing. Ocasio-Cortez wore an organza gown emblazoned with the phrase "Tax the Rich". As an elected official in New York City, she was considered a guest of the museum, and as such did not have to buy a ticket, which costs persons other than elected officials at least $35,000. The dress's designer, Aurora James, also invited her boyfriend Benjamin Bronfman, the son of a billionaire. Critics, both conservative and liberal, rebuked Ocasio-Cortez for attending an event where guests were not required to wear masks, but event staff were and for attending an event known for its opulent display of wealth and social status. She responded that they were using a sexist double standard and that she "punctured the fourth wall of excess and spectacle." James also believed that the extremely wealthy people in attendance needed to see the message in person.

In September 2021, the American Accountability Foundation filed an ethics complaint against Ocasio-Cortez for attending the Met Gala. The AAF claimed that her attendance amounted to accepting an illegal gift since her estimated $35,000 ticket was paid for by Condé Nast, a for-profit company, not a charity. The event itself is a charitable fundraiser.

"The Squad"

Ocasio-Cortez is a member of an informal group of progressive members of Congress called "The Squad", along with Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley, Rashida Tlaib, Cori Bush and Jamaal Bowman. On July 14, 2019, Trump attacked the Squad (which had only four members at the time) in a tweet, saying that they should "go back and help fix" the countries they came from rather than criticize the American government. He continued to make similar comments over the next several days, even though three of the women, including Ocasio-Cortez, were born in the United States. Ocasio-Cortez responded in a tweet that "the President's words [yesterday], telling four American Congresswomen of color 'go back to your own country' is hallmark language of white supremacists." She later added, "We don't leave the things that we love, and when we love this country, what that means is that we propose the solutions to fix it." Days later, Trump falsely asserted that Ocasio-Cortez called "our country and our people 'garbage'"; she had actually said that Americans should not be content with moderate policies that are "10% better from garbage". Trump also falsely claimed that Ocasio-Cortez said "illegal immigrants are more American" than Americans who tried to keep them out; she actually said that "women and children on that border that are trying to seek refuge and opportunity" in America "are acting more American" than those who tried to keep them out.

Green New Deal

116th United States Congress H. Res.0109 (1st session) - Recognizing the duty of the Federal Government to create a Green New Deal.pdf
H. Res. 109: "Recognizing the duty of the Federal Government to create a Green New Deal"; the first piece of legislation authored by Ocasio-Cortez.

Ocasio-Cortez submitted her first piece of legislation, the Green New Deal, to the House on February 7, 2019. She and Senator Ed Markey released a joint non-binding resolution laying out the main elements of a 10-year "economic mobilization" that would phase out fossil fuel use and overhaul the nation's infrastructure. Their plan called for implementing the "social cost of carbon" that was part of the Obama administration's plans to address climate change. In the process it aimed to create jobs and boost the economy. According to CNBC, an initial outline the Green New Deal called for "completely ditching fossil fuels, upgrading or replacing 'every building' in the country and 'totally overhaul[ing] transportation' to the point where 'air travel stops becoming necessary'". The outline set a goal of having the U.S. "creating 'net zero' greenhouse gases in 10 years. Why 'net zero'? The lawmakers explained: 'We set a goal to get to net-zero, rather than zero emissions, in 10 years because we aren't sure that we'll be able to fully get rid of farting cows and airplanes that fast.'" Activist groups such as Greenpeace and the Sunrise Movement came out in favor of the plan. No Republican lawmakers voiced support. The plan gained support from some Democratic senators, including Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Cory Booker; other Democrats, such as Senator Dianne Feinstein and House speaker Nancy Pelosi, dismissed the proposal (Pelosi has referred to it as "the green dream, or whatever they call it").

In what Democrats called a "stunt", Senate Republicans called for an early vote on the Green New Deal on March 26 without allowing discussion or expert testimony. Markey said Republicans were trying to "make a mockery" of the Green New Deal debate and called the vote a "sham". In protest, Senate Democrats voted "present" or against the bill, resulting in a 57–0 defeat on the Senate floor. In March 2019, a group of UK activists proposed that the Labour Party adopt a similar plan, "Labour for a Green New Deal". The group said it was inspired by the Sunrise Movement and the work Ocasio-Cortez has done in the US.

See also

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