"The zip code a child is born in determines much of their destiny". You can find this tagline everywhere and anywhere Democratic newcomer and overnight superstar Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and her campaign are present, from her website to her viral campaign video. This message of economic and class determinism and its resonance in the New York's 14th congressional district, which encompasses heavily Hispanic sections of Queens and the Bronx, helped propel her insurgent socialist candidacy past 10-term Congressman Rep. Joe Crowley (D-NY). With her surprise win also came the microscope of media scrutiny, where revelations of Ocasio-Cortez's actual upbringing in a posh section of the wealthiest county in the America – Westchester, NY – came to light. Questions about which zip code she was born in, which zip code she was raised in, which zip code she was educated in, and which zip code gave her the opportunity to "determine her destiny" were abound as commentators and pundits picked apart her supposed history.
Though the religious notions of fate and destiny are anathema to socialists and leftists in general, this particular messaging seemed to strike a chord with the Ocasio-Cortez's primary voters. In a district many may consider impoverished, it is reasonable for these voters to look around, feel despair, and identify with this message. But the real question is, how much of her constituents' struggle can Ocasio- Cortez actually identify with?
Ocasio-Cortez's father, Sergio Ocasio, an architect and a Pratt institute graduate, was a founder of Kirschenbaum and Ocasio-Roman Architects. This ownership arrangement helped privilege the business over others to secure lucrative government contracts. Many in Ocasio-Cortez district may be unfamiliar with the affirmative action policies in place with the SBA (Small Business Administration) and other government agencies that provide line-skipping access to bids made by MBE (Minority Business Enterprise) certified enterprises, and we can be assured Ocasio- Cortez will stay mum about how these policies had been in place for decades and helped unfairly advantage her family to the point her father had purchased a home in Yorktown Heights, Westchester in 1991, when Ocasio-Cortez would have been 2 years old. While enterprise opportunities for Ocasio-Cortez's constituents remain scarce, Ocasio-Cortez would have been more honest if she advocated a campaign message more closely related to her actual experience, such as: "There are already numerous systems in place (footed by the taxpayer) that allow for the social mobility of those stuck in despair in this district.