Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is juggling a lot. With her job in Congress, frequent media appearances, and maintaining an Instagram account where she works to give her constituents a look at the inner workings of the government, AOC finds herself quite busy. But recently, she took some time to chat with The Intercept’s Ryan Grim and Briahna Joy Gray about her first few weeks in Congress, her use of Instagram Live, and progressive politics.
One of the things that has set Ocasio-Cortez apart is her use of Instagram. When she’s prepping her meals, AOC records herself talking to her constituents. People have called it a modern-day version of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s fireside chats, a series of radio broadcasts where the president addressed the nation. “I figured it’s also a good way to use technology to reach constituents because sometimes it’s just physically almost impossible with demands on our time,” she said. “So we have to figure out ways to kind of use these small pockets of time that we do have creatively, even if it’s just when I’m, you know, prepping vegetables for dinner, if I can get, if I can get a conversation about policy in there, it’s tremendously effective.”
Ocasio-Cortez toiled away behind-the-scenes before her name regularly appeared in publications. But when she started gaining more traction, things quickly changed. “Literally overnight I went from no one caring who I was unless I was swiping my Metro card too slow, to like, to like everyone being like, ‘Who is she?’ ‘What is this?’ All these cameras all over the place,” she said. “And it was just a completely alien change. I was extremely stressed out because it felt like everything I said had so much more weight overnight.”
As a recently elected member of Congress, AOC is learning everything as she goes along, including the process of joining committees. She realized that new members don’t really get all the information they need so they know how to best approach the situation. AOC, who is part of the House Committee of Financial Services and the Committee of Oversight and Reform,
Her most quotable moments came when she and the hosts began speaking about identity’s place in politics. Referencing a recent talk she gave at MLK Now, an event that honors Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s legacy, Gray told AOC that the conversation seemed more progressive than what you hear about in mainstream politics. And that for some reason, politicians believe people of color’s interests and progressive ideals are separate, Gray added.
“Yeah,” she said, “which I find funny because the polling and all of the data, and everything that we feel and see, shows that the opposite is true is that communities of color are usually much further to the left than white liberals, because racism, colonialism are – we understand through lived experience in a way that many don’t understand – that these are issues that are part of a capital, a hyper-capitalist framework, you know?”
Listen to the rest of the conversation here.