Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Opened Up About Threats During Her First Term in Congress
“There have been many times, especially in the first six months, where I felt like I couldn’t do this."
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez opened up about the more difficult parts of her first term.
The congresswoman appeared on the cover of Vanity Fair this month, where she discussed her past, present, and future career in politics. In one part of the interview, Ocasio-Cortez talked about the many violent threats that we lobbed against her, especially at the beginning of her term. Specifically, she opened up about a moment when she traveled with Representative Ayana Pressley and Representative Rashida Tlaib to the border of the United States and Mexico. ProPublica reported that in a secret Facebook group, some border agents had circulated altered images of the congresswoman. She later asked the Department of Homeland Security chief Kevin McAleenan at a hearing, "Did you see the images of officers circulating photoshopped images of my violent rape?”
In the interview with VF, Ocasio-Cortez says that those threats did have an impact on her. "There have been many times, especially in the first six months, where I felt like I couldn’t do this, like I didn’t know if I was going to be able to run for reelection,” she told them. “There was a time where the volume of threats had gotten so high that I didn’t even know if I was going to live to my next term."
She went on to explain that the other freshman members of Congress, known as "the squad," helped her through it. "Their sisterhood and their friendship, it’s not some political alliance. It’s a very deep, unconditional human bond," she said.
Despite the very real fear she was experiencing, Ocasio-Cortez came to understand that the point of these threats was to make her question her position. She explains that she told herself, “Okay, I’m not crazy. It’s not that this is too much for me. It’s that this is an environment with a very specific purpose.”
Ocasio-Cortez also opened up about a question she gets often: what's next? “I don’t know if I’m really going to be staying in the House forever, or if I do stay in the House, what that would look like. I don’t see myself really staying where I’m at for the rest of my life,” she said. “I don’t want to aspire to a quote-unquote higher position just for the sake of that title or just for the sake of having a different or higher position. I truly make an assessment to see if I can be more effective. And so, you know, I don’t know if I could necessarily be more effective in an administration, but, for me that’s always what the question comes down to.”