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Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) made it clear that she’s proud of her humble roots while speaking at the National Action Network convention on Friday.
“I’m proud to be a bartender,” she said. “Ain’t nothing wrong with that. There’s nothing wrong with working retail. ... There is nothing wrong with preparing what your neighbors will eat.”
Critics, including President Trump, have tried using her previous bartender job as a way to detract from her influence as a rising star in the Democratic Party.
‘There is nothing wrong with being a working person‘
As Ocasio-Cortez tried to push the Green New Deal legislation through Congress, Trump remarked at an NRCC fundraising dinner: “The Green New Deal done by a young bartender, 29 years old. A young bartender, wonderful young woman, the Green New Deal. The first time I heard it I said, ‘That’s the craziest thing.’”
The 29-year-old is the youngest woman to ever serve in Congress after defeating 10-term incumbent Joe Crowley by 15 percentage points in the Democratic primary in 2018.
Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign began while she was still bartending and waiting tables in Manhattan. She even attributed her past profession to her line of questioning, which was praised, during the Michael Cohen hearing, writing on Twitter: “Bartending + waitressing (especially in NYC) means you talk to 1000s of people over the years. Forces you to get great at reading people + hones a razor-sharp BS detector.”
During Friday’s speech, she added: “There is nothing wrong with being a working person in the United States of America.”
This time a year ago, I was bartending while running a long-shot campaign for Congress.
That time felt so dark and yet so hopeful at the same time. Our odds were dismal + I was dismissed, but we felt that fighting hard for what’s right - even uphill - was worth it.
Keep going. pic.twitter.com/9SDGpAW9Kr
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) December 29, 2018
‘So can you’
"Our campaign was focused on just a laser focused message of economic, social and racial dignity for working class Americans, especially those in Queens and the Bronx,” she told MSNBC. “We were very clear about our message, very clear about our priorities."
Ocasio-Cortez is a proponent of democratic socialism, a political concept that is increasing in popularity. She recently said that democratic socialism “means putting democracy and society first, instead of capital first.”
Since being elected, she’s also made a promise to entry-level staffers to pay them a minimum of $52,000 a year, which is a “34% increase compared to the median annual salary of staff assistants in the House nationally,” Yahoo Finance previously reported.
"I, in fact, am encouraged when people remind the country of my past,” she said. "If I could work in a restaurant and become a member of the United States Congress, so can you."
Adriana is an associate editor for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @adrianambells.