Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's mother knew her daughter would be someone 'powerful' even before her birth
The youngest Congresswoman in American history, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, has maintained that it was her mother who inspired her to take up the fight for the "little guy," and now her mother, Blanca Ocasio-Cortez, in an interview, has said that she always knew her daughter would do something big.
The 56-year-old mother of the socialist Democrat, in an interview with the Daily Mail, said that she knew her daughter would be someone powerful even before her birth.
"Her dad and I were preparing for Alexandria's birth and still picking names," Blanca said. "And he came up with ''Alexandria.'' I thought about it for a while and I said: ''Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. That sounds very powerful. That'll be her name.'''
Blanca moved out of New York because of high taxes and chose to make a lakefront community in the Eustis, Florida her home shortly before AOC filed her candidacy from NY for the US Congress. The 56-year-old is still trying to settle down in the small city in the far suburbs of Orlando.
"I lived in the New York area for most of my life but I started being unable to afford it," she told the outlet. "After my husband (Sergio Ocasio) died (of lung cancer in 2008), the family went through tough times. Alexandria was in college, but I still had her little brother (Gabriel Ocasio-Cortez, 26, a real estate agent) who needed to be put through school."
Blanca added that her family enjoyed a middle-class lifestyle with her husband being a small business owner, and shortly after AOC's birth, they moved from their one-bedroom condo in The Bronx to a single-family house in Yorktown Heights.
"We had a great life there. Alexandria was very social, so she always had a bunch of girls over. She took over the shed in the backyard. She cleaned it up, put up curtains and photos and made it look nice, and that was like a clubhouse for her and her friend," Blanca said of her daughter.
After her husband's death, the mother-of-two had to take a couple of mortgages and received assistance from other family members.
"I was cleaning houses in the morning and working as a secretary at a hospital in the afternoon. I was working from 6 am until 11 pm. And I prayed and prayed, and things worked out. After the children graduated from college, I figured it was time for me to move to Florida."
"I was paying $10,000 a year in real estate taxes up north. I'm paying $600 a year in Florida. It's stress-free down here," she added.
The mother said that AOC was given her political education when she was a teenager, and it generally happened at the dinner table.
"We had a lot of conversations at the dinner table among ourselves about the issues of the day," Blanca said. "We'd talk about (President Barack) Obama or healthcare or elections."
She added that she doesn't like to call her daughter a socialist and rather prefers the term 'democratic socialist' for her.
"She wasn't raised to be a socialist," Blanca said. "That's not how Puerto Ricans are. That's not what we do. Socialists are in Cuba or Venezuela. Besides, anyone who tries to help little people like me is branded a socialist. She's a democratic socialist, and it's very different. They focus on working people's needs. They're not about the rich or big corporations. Democratic socialists are about what Democrats were supposed to be about, but Democrats are not doing a good enough job."
The 56-year-old, who works for the Lake County School District as a clerical assistant, also told the outlet that she hopes her daughter will soon marry her longtime boyfriend, social media consultant Riley Roberts.
"I love him," Blanca said. "He is the most loving, supporting person I've seen. He helped her tremendously during the election. They've been together for four years now, after they reconnected from a college breakup. I know they love children, and they do very well with children from the family. So, I hope they get married soon. Although they haven't told me anything about their plans."
The mother of the Congresswoman said that although it is easy to comprehend how her own struggles could have shaped her daughter's political platform, including a single-payer health care system, free college tuition, affordable housing and higher taxes on the rich, she says that Alexandria is primarily inspired by the differences she witnessed growing up between towns and cities just a few miles apart.
"My daughter works from the heart," Blanca said. "What you see is what you get. She saw how unfair the system is, and she wants to change that. She saw struggling parents putting their children through school, but also how difficult life was for people in the Bronx compared to Yorktown. She saw the difference in education and status between parts of the family, and she just wants everybody to have the same opportunities."