Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Five Simple Rules for Salvaging an ‘Embarassing’ State of the Union


Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez arriving at the State of the Union address with guest Ana Maria Archila. Photo: Joshua Roberts/Reuters.

In her crusade to battle Trump and rally her left-leaning, millennial troops, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez shows no signs of slowing down. She appeared at the State of the Union last night in a white pantsuit — suits, we’ve established, are a good look for her — joining other female House members in honoring suffragists and expressing unity. “2019 is the 100th anniversary of the women’s right to vote,” Ocasio-Cortez told CNN before President Trump’s address. “There’s so much more that we have to fight for, from wage equality to paycheck fairness to protecting ourselves, and believing survivors.” She also made headlines for her decision to bring an activist and sexual assault survivor as her guest, her brooch honoring the victims of Trump’s cruel and fatal border policy, and her outspoken criticism of the president — coupled with a much-memed “not impressed” look. Below, all the ways in which Ocasio-Cortez stole she show at her first State of the Union.



Recalling her all-white outfit at her swearing-in ceremony earlier this year, Ocasio-Cortez joined other House Democrats in wearing “suffragette white” to celebrate the record-shattering number of women in Congress — and to remind the country of the work that lies ahead. “Today we stand together wearing white in solidarity with the women of the suffrage movement who refused to take no for an answer,” Representative Brenda Lawrence, the leader of the Democratic Women’s Working Group, told The Hill. “To an administration that has closed its eyes to women, we will be seen.”



Cementing her commitment to believing survivors of sexual assault, Ocasio-Cortez invited Ana María Archila, the New York activist who went viral for confronting Republican senator Jeff Flake in an elevator during the Supreme Court confirmation hearing for Brett Kavanaugh. A resident of Ocasio-Cortez’s district in the Bronx, Archila was one of the leaders of Make the Road New York, advocating on behalf of immigrant and working-class New Yorkers. She recalls voting for Ocasio-Cortez in her primary last June, while organizing a protest against the Trump administration’s family separation policy at the border.



Ever a firm believer in the power of political symbolism, Ocasio-Cortez donned a brooch with a picture of Jakelin Caal Maquin, the 7-year-old from Guatemala who died while in the custody of US Border Patrol. The choice was a bold statement of condemnation for an administration that is still detaining immigrant families at its borders, an act that has derailed and risked the lives of thousands of asylum seekers.



The congresswoman made rounds on the Internet for her solemn, “not impressed” expression and refusal to stand after Trump’s speech. When Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan tweeted that the congresswoman “had a rare bad night, looking not spirited, warm and original as usual but sullen, teenaged and at a loss,” Ocasio-Cortez fired back: “Why should I be ‘spirited and warm’ for this embarrassment of a #SOTU?” she tweeted. “Tonight was an unsettling night for our country. The president failed to offer any plan, any vision at all, for our future. We’re flying without a pilot. And I‘m not here to comfort anyone about that fact.”


Ocasio-Cortez responded to Trump’s denouncement of socialism in his State of the Union address, when he claimed that the socialist policies of Venezuela’s Maduro regime “have turned that nation from being the wealthiest in South America into a state of abject poverty and despair.” In direct acknowledgement of the sweeping influence of Ocasio-Cortez and her cadre of progressive politicians, Trump added that “we are alarmed by new calls to adopt socialism in our country,” as the camera cut to the congresswoman. “America was founded on liberty and independence — not government coercion, domination, and control. We are born free, and we will stay free.”

In an appearance on MSNBC shortly after the address, Ocasio-Cortez responded to the shout-out, saying Trump is “losing on the issues,” and that he feels the need to “grasp at an ad hominem attack.” “Every single policy proposal that we have adopted and presented to the American public has been overwhelmingly popular, even some with a majority of Republican voters supporting what we’re talking about,” she said. “What we need to realize is happening is this is an issue of authoritarian regime versus democracy. In order for him to try to dissuade or throw people off the scent of the trail, he has to really make and confuse the public. And I think that that’s exactly what he’s trying to do.”