Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez never even pictured herself as a politician. And yet in Tuesday’s primary, she defeated 10-term Democrat Joe Crowley, the fourth-ranking Democrat in the House, as the Democratic Congressional candidate in New York’s 14th District. Crowley hadn’t faced a Democratic challenger in 14 years, and despite raising more funds than Alexandria, the 28-year-old first-time candidate’s grassroots campaign carried her to victory. Alexandria – who ran on a platform to provide Medicare for all, tuition-free public colleges, and the abolition of Immigration and Customs Enforcement – is representative of a new wave of progressive candidates who want to push the Democratic party into the future.
“We have had our country on autopilot and we’ve been accepting what’s been happening,” she told Refinery29. “And what’s happening in this country is indicative that we need new leadership. We need new leadership in the Democratic Party and we need new leadership in the country.”
Her victory is groundbreaking: She is slated to become the first Latina to represent her district in Congress, and likely the youngest. But her victory is also inspiring. A young Latina woman has shaken up the Democratic party and shown that it’s possible to do it without the support of PACs and without compromising her beliefs, and it’s giving many others hope. On Twitter, many are celebrating her triumph, almost as if it’s their own. Here’s why her win was so important.