An anonymous Twitter user affiliated with QAnon — the pro-Trump, far-right, Internet conspiracy theory — shared a clip of Ocasio-Cortez's Boston University days with the caption: "Here is America’s favorite commie know-it-all acting like the clueless nitwit she is..." The tweet was deleted late Thursday after it went viral.
But just like Texas Republicans' efforts to make fun of Beto O'Rourke's punk band days spectacularly backfired, the clip of a young Ocasio-Cortez made her look cool and relatable instead of like a "clueless nitwit." The cut shared by the Twitter user was part of a longer video which shows the congresswoman and her college friends recreating the dance scene from The Breakfast Club set to Phoenix’s "Lisztomania." The clip belongs to larger wave of similar videos that floated around the internet in 2010. (For the young among us, this was pretty much a meme before the concept of meme existed. More on that here.)
Ocasio-Cortez responded to the criticism, telling The Hill, "It is not normal for elected officials to have a reputation for dancing well and I'm happy to be one. She added: "It is unsurprising to me that Republicans would think having fun should be disqualifying or illegal."
Of course, many of her supporters found the video endearing. Among some of the responses were: "Does anyone have a video from my past that inadvertently makes me look effortlessly cool that they would like to release, to own me" and "Why did they think a video of AOC dancing and being cute and funny and having fun with friends would make us dislike her?"
Ever since pulling her primary upset last summer, conservatives have criticized Ocasio-Cortez things such as her clothes (she doesn't look poor enough), her humble childhood home (real working class people don't live in houses), how much money she has in the bank (she's not 12 times richer than the typical American like most of her millionaire colleagues), her tweets (unlike the dignified posts by President Donald Trump), the high school she attended (a nice public school instead of a terrible one), and now, apparently, for being a college student who enjoyed dancing with her friends. And the loathing goes beyond just opinions: When she voted for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday, her Republican colleagues booed her.
The criticism weaponized against Ocasio-Cortez has often been sexist, classist, and racist instead of an intellectually honest effort to challenge her ideology as a self-proclaimed Democratic socialist. At its root, the pushback is related to how the right is largely terrified of the shifting demographics in the country. Ocasio-Cortez, a young Latina from a working class background, has become an avatar for those anxieties, particularly because she defeated one of the most powerful old, white men in the House and she hasn't shied away from speaking her truth. And while the conservative narrative frequently speaks to "pulling oneself by the bootstraps," Ocasio-Cortez and her family have received no praise for embodying that narrative. The 29-year-old's father was a small business owner and her mother cleaned houses; both worked hard enough to uproot the family from the Bronx and relocate to Yorktown, where their daughter would have better opportunities. It worked: Ocasio-Cortez would eventually go to Boston University, and now, become the youngest congresswoman in history.
Even before being sworn-in, Ocasio-Cortez made waves by tackling how staffers and interns are underpaid in Capitol Hill and pushing for the Green New Deal, which is aimed at combatting climate change and inequality. Now that her work technically begins, we'll probably see an escalation in the type of empty criticism directed her way. But if her responses are any indication, the freshman congresswoman will remain unfazed. In her own words: "Don’t hate me cause you ain’t me, fellas."