Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said her stratospheric rise in politics means people are piling expectations on somebody who's 'not me': 'It’s like this avatar'

  • Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez spoke about her sudden change from political unknown to a national phenomenon – which she said comes with huge expectation.
  • Speaking on a podcast by The Intercept, she said some fans pin their hopes on an “avatar” of her: “But I still feel a responsibility to do the best that I can.”
  • She said her groundbreaking primary victory meant her life went under a “completely alien change.”
  • “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,” she said.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said that her stratospheric rise in politics means people have been piling expectations on an “avatar” of her.

Speaking on The Intercept’s podcast, Ocasio-Cortez said that she went from being an unknown to being a recognisable political figure overnight when she won her Democratic primary in New York in July, and she had to remind herself that people were projecting their hopes on to a version of her.

“Even though I didn’t feel like a different person I felt this immense responsibility of all of these people’s hopes and dreams for our future,” she said.

“It is something that I grapple with a lot because I know it’s not me. It’s like this avatar of me.

“But I still feel a responsibility to do the best that I can.”


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Ocasio-Cortez said that the time after her groundbreaking primary win, where she beat a high-profile, 10-term incumbent, was the “most stressful time” of her political career so far.

“Like literally overnight I went from no one caring who I was unless I was swiping my MetroCard too slow, to everyone being like ‘who is she, what is this?’ – all these cameras all over the place.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Senate FloorMelina Mara/The Washington Post via Getty ImagesRep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez walks onto the Senate floor on Thursday.

“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.”

She said that she noticed local people, her future constituents in New York’s 14th Congressional District, started to treat her differently.

“A couple of days after the primary I was in my neighbourhood and I turned around this corner to get on the street and this woman saw me and just started crying, she just broke down crying.”


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But, despite this reaction, Ocasio-Cortez said she was not confident that she would win her House seat in November, even though she had won the primary in a seat that had not elected a Republican since the early 1990s.

Alexandria Ocasio CortezHollis Johnson/Business Insider

“Everyone in the world thought that my general election was a sure thing except me. I did not think that my win in the general was a sure thing. Everyone around me was like ‘you’re crazy, you’re gonna be a landslide,’ and I was like ‘no it’s not.'”

She said she was “getting a lot of evidence on the ground that supported my feelings.”

Nonetheless, come November she won more than 70% of the vote, becoming the youngest-ever woman elected to Congress.

Listen to The Intercept’s podcast here.

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