Millennials, born between 1980 and 1995, are beginning to be elected to Congress. This fact could potentially shift the United States’ political system towards democratic socialism. Millennials could one day make up the largest generational group in Congress, and that time is starting now.

Starting, specifically, with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Cortez is a 28-year-old democratic socialist who won Tuesday’s primary in New York, thus becoming the youngest women in Congress.

Cortez was born and raised in the Bronx. She started off humbly, working as a bartender in a Tequila Bar. Cortez is the daughter of working-class Puerto Rican parents. Her father was also born in the South Bronx, though he passed away while she was still in college in 2008. Her mother was born in Puerto Rico. Cortez went off to study at Boston University and worked in the office of liberal Senator Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts.

When Cortez returned home to New York, she focused on activism revolving around economic inequality and immigration reformation.

Cortez’s recent victory is part of a larger story of a Democratic Party in revolt. She is part of the first-time female wave of progressive candidates who are unapologetic about their liberal beliefs and hope to bring about positive change. 

Cortez’s clear progressive agenda includes “Medicare for all” and abolishing U.S. immigration policies which oppress undocumented immigrants and have been used to unjustly incarcerate children.

Cortez’s agenda speaks to the future of Congress as millennials begin to take on important roles in the United States’ economic and political systems. Many millennials are opposed to ideologies rooted in capitalism and often blame capitalism as the root cause of economic inequality.

In fact, a 2016 Gallup Poll found 55% of those who were then age 18-29 said that they held positive views regarding socialism. As economic inequality continues to grow, millennials are being increasingly negatively affected.

A recent study by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis found that millennials born in the 1980s have a net worth 34% below what was expected for their age group. Student debt is also taking a toll on millennials, having doubled to 1.4 trillion since 2009. In comparison to older generations such as baby boomers, millennials’ economic situations have resulted in them in owning less property.

Therefore, for many millennials, socialism is not seen as a radical belief but is viewed as a solution to many of the issues rooted in the system they are living under today.

In fact, Cortez is part of an organization whose aim is to decrease the influence of money in politics and to empower blue collar workers.

Cortez was quoted saying that the Latinx community was about “people vs. money.” In other words, in today’s economic system, for people who work for a living, money is always a priority due to the value it holds. People who make up the working class are constantly struggling to make ends meet by working long hours and barely earn enough to pay their bills. They are constantly struggling in order to move up the social and economic ladder.

Thus, Cortez’ message resonated with the voters of New York’s 14th congressional district, and her message is one that Congress could benefit from hearing as more millennials run for office.

As a woman born and raised in the Bronx, I was very inspired by Cortez’s story. As a human living in this generation, where greed, ambitions, and nationalism are taking over our humanity, Cortez’s goal and this movement of progressive women taking over politics give me hope of a better future.

 

Featured image via Wikimedia