Art of Congress by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Published 23.01.2019 23:30
Updated 24.01.2019 00:03

An art installation of famous "lawgivers" hangs above the gallery doors in the House of Representatives of the United States. Along with Thomas Jefferson and Hammurabi and other greats, hang a diverse trio: Pope Innocent III, Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent and Maimonedes. I couldn't help but draw parallels between the federal agency, the Architect of the Capitol, and its division, the Art of Congress, and a first-term congresswoman, all three of which share the initials AOC.

The first of the trio was a pope whose views on the law are responsible for much of modern Western understanding of it. The second, the 10th sultan and longest reigning of the Ottoman monarchs was credited with laying down precedents and strict adherence to the principle of "justice for all" that shaped the lives of millions for half a millennium till today. The third was a Sephardic Jewish scholar and historian who was as widely known in Judaic jurisprudence as he was among Islamic scholars throughout the Middle East. All three are responsible for passing on a legacy of devotion to the rule of law. They are revered for this legacy and greet lawmakers as they pass through the House Chambers. Who among today's lawmakers will be remembered 500 years or more after their deaths?

Turkey and the United States are unique among nations in that they are historically not ethnic in origin. At the height of the Ottoman Empire, no major religion or ethnicity comprised a majority in the Empire, as the Ottomans called their nation. Muslims, Christians and Jews lived side by side in relative peace and harmony for centuries, as the three lawgivers stand side-by-side above the House today. It is this spirit of inclusion and understanding coupled with a strong will to impose actual justice and equality that makes the Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez style of representing her constituents stand out. Her style is, put simply, an art.

Compassion for those that are in most need of compassion and a sternness for those that are accustomed to spreading lies and manipulating the electorate to enrich themselves, artfully done. This is the Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez many Americans have grown to respect and love: A congressperson who will not be bullied into silence, Fox News and their media machine have met their match. I can't recall another U.S. politician advocating a tax hike, even if it is for the very few Americans that make over $10 million a year, during my lifetime. Whether or not these policy goals ever get passed, they have almost certainty changed the conversation in Washington.

The art of lawmaking, the way in which Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez executes her responsibilities, is demonstrably changing Congress. President Trump and other political leaders have no choice but to respond to the legislation she is floating. Growing up, my congressman in the 24th Congressional District of New York was no firebrand. He prided himself on inheriting his father's seat in Congress and held on to it for 20 years. His seniority was the only thing he campaigned on, and the Republican machine in Upstate New York returned him to the seat term after term. There were no Ocasio-Cortezes to challenge him or were silenced before they could be heard. Times have changed, and with the spread of social media, politicians are forced to answer to their constituents. The future is not for the Mitch McConnell's of the world but for the AOCs of the world.

I commend Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez for shaking up a Congress much in need of shaking up and look forward to her persevering through the constant attacks by her detractors to executing her goals of income equality and actual justice for all.

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