“We made history tonight,” the 29-year-old, who is now the youngest women ever elected to Congress, said to her supporters.
Ocasio-Cortez, a Latina who has never previously held political office, easily won New York’s left-leaning 14th Congressional District against Republican Anthony Pappas. Her victory comes months after she unexpectedly defeated 10-term Democratic Rep. Joe Crowley in the June primary.
“This is what is possible when everyday people come together in the collective realization that all our actions, no matter how small or how large, are powerful, worthwhile and capable of lasting change,” Ocasio-Cortez said Tuesday.
“Words cannot express my gratitude to every organizer, every small-dollar donor, every working parent and dreamer who helped make this movement happen,” she continued.
“And that’s exactly what this is. Not a campaign or an election day, but a movement, a larger movement for social, economic and racial justice in America.”
Ocasio-Cortez also identified what policies she intends to target in office, including abolishing Immigration and Customs Enforcement, student loan debt (which she called “a ticking time bomb for our economy”) and “the role of money in politics.”
Ocasio-Cortez’s speech was briefly interrupted when news broke that Beto O’Rourke, also a progressive Democrat, lost his underdog bid for Senate in Texas against Republican Sen. Ted Cruz.
But the young, newly elected congresswoman urged her supporters to remain confident in Democrats’ overall success.
“There is never any fight that is too big for us to pick. We proved that this year,” she said. “Because in the wealthiest nation in the history of the world, our greatest scarcity is not a lack of resources but the absence of political courage and moral imagination.”
Ocasio-Cortez added: “It is a hollow goal to simply be a rich country that seeks to concentrate wealth. We must also be a good nation too.”
In a more informal speech to a smaller crowd on Tuesday, the progressive star declared, “This is not the end. This is the beginning.”