People love to hate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
After becoming the youngest woman in US history to get elected to Congress, Ocasio-Cortez has been the center of constant scrutiny and blatant discrimination. She has been deemed too radical, not radical enough, uninformed, unlikable, and too young.
Ultimately, though, what has struck me most about Ocasio-Cortez is how, despite all of these criticisms, she has plowed ahead with her agenda anyway, unwavering in her convictions. She just plain cares, and it’s incredibly refreshing.
Better yet, Ocasio-Cortez is hustling to take actual, quantifiable steps to make good on the promises she spoke about in her election platform. This rare devotion even extends to climate change.
This week, after learning that the big three tech giants (Facebook, Google, and Microsoft) sponsored a conference that promoted climate change denialism, Ocasio-Cortez and Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME) took discernable action.
They wrote a letter to the companies’ CEOs, decrying their choice to support the spread of such toxic misinformation. They then urged the CEOs to pledge their support to a more sustainable future, asking them to further acknowledge the growing pile of research proving that climate change is permanently wrecking our environment.
This call to action feels perhaps even more meaningful given this week’s circumstances. As the climate change-linked polar vortex ravaged the Midwest, killing eight people and counting, the increased effects of climate change have never been more real. It has been extremely disheartening to be homebound and helpless while looking at the frigid hellscape outside my window, not to mention reading the mocking tweet our president sent out about the disaster.
Ocasio-Cortez’s swift response to climate denialism is a call back to the devastating United Nations panel report that was released this past October, which told us that we have until 2040 to drastically reduce our greenhouse gas emissions in order to avoid global catastrophe. Our Twitter feeds took a collective gasp at the news and spewed some mild outrage before effectively moving right along to the next horrible human tragedy. We moved on, and we moved on fast.
It’s been months since the report was released and for a long time, it felt like nobody cared. Zero legislation was introduced and our own government continued to deny global warming’s very existence.
Fast forward to today. In addition to taking on Silicon Valley giants, Ocasio-Cortez is preparing to unveil her “Green New Deal” legislation very soon. The legislation is set to address emissions reduction, job creation, and ‘greenifying’ infrastructure. It is the first piece of tangible hope for our climate that I have seen since that United Nations report was released.
Sure, Ocasio-Cortez is a rookie politician who sometimes gets tripped up in interviews. I don’t agree with all of her policies, and I’m not sure I’m comfortable with all that her self-described “Democratic socialist” outlook entails.
But while older Democratic counterparts are telling her to “not make waves” and “wait her turn” Ocasio-Cortez is ignoring her naysayers and diving right into the action.
And whether you believe in all of her policies or not, it’s nice to see someone finally doing something.
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Michelle Vincent is a project manager and freelance writer. She enjoys traveling, is worried she won’t love her future children as much as she loves her dogs, and is actively recruiting podcast recommendations.