Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is bold and outspoken, and she’s become the most vocal individual standing up to Donald Trump on a daily basis.
AOC, as she is affectionately known, this month became the youngest woman in US history sworn into Congress and is already the Democrats’ fastest rising star.
The New Yorker hurtled to fame after Republicans tried to embarrass her with a video of her joyfully dancing on a roof while at high school. Unfazed, the 29-year-old responded in the most effective possible way — with a new video of herself dancing in Congress.
This is absolutely typical for the millennial politician, who is adept at using social media to connect with the public and disseminate her message.
It’s a skill Mr Trump has made almost essential for today’s leaders, but one that doesn’t come naturally for everyone, and can just as easily land a public figure in hot water.
Like the President, Ms Ocasio-Cortez is not frightened of saying the wrong thing — and as one of the newest members of Congress, she has less to lose than some others. Loud boos from Republicans only seemed to galvanise her.
AOC, who is of Puerto Rican descent and grew up in the Bronx, is particularly forthright on the subject of race.
Asked on 60 Minutes earlier this month whether she thought Mr Trump was a racist, she quickly replied: “Yeah. Yeah. No question.”
The White House responded in a statement that her “sheer ignorance on the matter can’t cover the fact that President Trump supported and passed historic criminal justice reform” and had “repeatedly condemned racism and bigotry in all forms.”
The US President was dismissive as he left the White House on Monday: “Who cares?”
Ms Ocasio-Cortez’s comeback was equally cutting. “I bartended for *years* in New York City,” she tweeted to her 2.4 million Twitter followers. “I understand guys like this like the back of my hand. We got under his skin.”
Last week, she denounced the government shutdown on MSNBC, criticising Mr Trump for his regular attacks on immigrants.
Days later, the President said the Democratic Party appeared to have been “taken over by a group of young people who, frankly, in some cases I’ve been watching, I actually think are crazy”.
AOC worked for Senator Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign and her popularity has soared as the power of the left increases in response to Mr Trump’s leadership. But that also makes her divisive, with some traditional Democrats fearing her progressive views could alienate more conservative voters.
Ms Ocasio-Cortez pulled off a huge upset in June’s midterm primaries, beating Democratic Caucus Chair Joe Crowley in New York’s 14th congressional district, which takes in parts of the Bronx and Queens. That was despite her campaign spending spent $US194,000 to his $US3.4 million.
“Women like me aren’t supposed to run for office,” her campaign video began.
Her influence has grown as she shares views that resonate especially with young people, challenging news outlets for their lack of diversity, and unafraid to speak out even against her own party.
She joined a “Green New Deal” sit-in protest at House speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office in one of her first acts in Washington, and has called for those earning above $US10 million to pay a 70 per cent tax rate on income above that threshold.
Ms Ocasio-Cortez has also used her growing fame to back others, including Muslim congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, who caused outrage when she called on the US to “impeach the motherf***er”.
The New York Post has called AOC a “Twitter powerhouse” — but Wired emphasised that this was more than a “cute social media story”.
The tech magazine said the young Democrat had become “a harbinger of a new American political reality”, setting the national agenda within her first two weeks of office.
Some of the party’s 2020 candidates have responded favourably to her ideas, although she has also been criticised for occasionally exaggerating or misstating facts.
When confronted on 60 Minutes regarding a Washington Post fact-check, she replied with what the paper called a “very bad” defence: “I think that there’s a lot of people more concerned about being precisely, factually, and semantically correct than about being morally right.”
But she insisted that unlike Mr Trump, she was ready to own up to and correct any mistakes as they happened.
The President in August told Bloomberg he had predicted AOC’s success from the moment he first saw her on television, but added: “Her views are terrible.”
Data from CrowdTangle published by Axios last week showed Ms Ocasio-Cortez generated more Twitter interactions than America’s five biggest news organisations combined in the previous month.
She was well ahead of any Democratic presidential hopeful, with Senator Kamala Harris coming closest at 4.6 million interactions across two accounts — still well behind AOC’s 11.8 million.
The top Republican was Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk, with 7.3 million interactions.
Top media and technology analyst Ben Thompson called her a “phenomenon”, adding that she represented “an entirely new archetype: a politician that is not only fuelled by the internet, but born of it”.
“She has emerged as a potent symbol for a diversifying Democratic Party: A young woman of colour who is giving as good as she gets in a political system that has rarely rewarded people who look like her,” wrote The New York Times.
Ms Ocasio-Cortez responded in typical style: “w/ low pay, multiple jobs, a burning planet, war on drugs & few protections for the LGBT+, the political status quo has done so little for so many that when regular people win, we don’t feel as though we owe it much of anything at all.
“Why not change?”