Whether you love or love to hate her, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is breaking records.
A powerful recent video of the 29-year-old Congresswoman calling for campaign finance law reforms in the United States is now the most-viewed video featuring a politician in Twitter’s history.
In five minutes, the New York Democrat demonstrated how the current legal system encourages and rewards politicians for pursuing personal and corporate interests instead of those of the American people.
In the video, Ms Ocasio-Cortez delivers an impassioned argument to the House Oversight Committee calling out corruption at the highest levels of US government.
She posed a simple series of questions to ethics experts to demonstrate how a politician looking to advance their own interests could avoid being held accountable in Congress.
“Let’s play a lightning-round game,” she began. “I’m going to be the bad guy — which I’m sure half the room would agree with anyway — and I want to get away with as much bad things as possible, ideally to enrich myself and advance my interests, even if that means putting my interests ahead of the American people.”
She asks the panel of experts to confirm whether she could use “special-interest dark money” from corporate political action committees (PACs) to fund her campaign, pay off adversaries to stay quiet, create laws to benefit her donors, and then buy stocks in companies that would benefit from these laws.
The panel confirmed she could do all these things.
She then asked: “Is it possible that any elements of this story apply to our current government and our current public servants?”
An ethics expert confirmed this is a possibility.
Ms Ocasio-Cortez then asked whether the President was subject to stricter laws than those for Congress.
Walter Shaub, the director of the Campaign Legal Center and a former head of the US Office of Government Ethics, confirmed that the opposite is true. “There’s almost no laws at all that apply to the President,” he said.
“So I’m being held — and every person in this body is being held to a higher ethical standard than the President of the United States?”
“It’s already super legal, as we’ve seen, for me to be a pretty bad guy, so it’s even easier for the president of the United States to be one,” Ms Ocasio-Cortez said.
Last week, Democrats introduced the For The People Act. This new series of laws would make it easier to vote, increase election security and improve campaign finance transparency.
Conservatives have opposed the legislation, arguing it strips power from the states and hands it over to the federal government.
They also say there is no need to overhaul existing voting laws, saying voting has never been easier.
WHO IS ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ?
Ms Ocasio-Cortez has emerged as one of President Donald Trump’s most vocal opponents.
Last month, she became the youngest woman in US history sworn into Congress.
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.
I hear the GOP thinks women dancing are scandalous.
Wait till they find out Congresswomen dance too! 💃🏽
Have a great weekend everyone 🙂 pic.twitter.com/9y6ALOw4F6
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) January 4, 2019
The Congresswoman has denounced Mr Trump for his attacks on immigrants, and said she believes he is racist.
She pulled off a huge upset in June’s midterm primaries last year, 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 just $US194,000 to his $US3.4 million.
Her influence has grown as she shares views that resonate particularly with young people, challenging news outlets for their lack of diversity, and unafraid to speak out even against her own party.
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.
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.”
— with Emma Reynolds
Originally published as America’s massive corruption laid bare