The Symbolism Behind the Participation of AOC in the Democratic National Convention

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In the lead-up to the unveiling of Joe Biden’s running mate, the speaker’s shortlist for the Democratic National Convention has left many of us wanting to read between the lines about the future of the party.

The Democratic leadership revealed Tuesday morning the long list of leaders and influential voices in the party who will speak at this year’s convention over four nights of programming.

According to NPR, Democrats had previously announced a plan also to highlight the plight of everyday Americans by giving small-business owners, teachers, factory workers, and front-line healthcare workers prime-time speaking slots.

Beginning Monday of next week, Bernie Sanders, Michelle Obama, Sally Yates, Chuck Schumer, Bill Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, Elizabeth Warren, and, obviously, President Barack Obama will give an intensive “why vote Democrat” and where the party is headed.

The list of speakers also includes former presidential candidates Cory Booker, Pete Buttigieg, and Kamala Harris.

Although the party’s attempt has been to show its plurality and the wide range of identities contained in its proposal, the arrival of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortéz on the list is a different symbol.

In previous editions of the Democratic Convention, such as that of 2016, among the Latinos who made the podium were Representative Luis Gutiérrez, Eva Longoria, America Ferrera, and activist Dolores Huerta. 

In 2012, the event was a platform for a young Julian Castro, seeking to make his way beyond San Antonio City Hall.

But in 2020, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortéz represents more than an ethnic minority in Congress, she is the icon of the truly intersectional politician, and the voice of one who brings with him unanimous support from men, women, LGBTQ+ people, people of color, youth and seniors, Latinx and white Democrats.

According to CNN, the congresswoman’s participation “further highlights the Biden campaign’s efforts to bring the progressive wing of the party into the fold,” but is also a symptom of the radical shift in political representation in the country, where it is now Latinas like AOC, New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham and Senator Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada who are driving the event.

Several Latino elected officials who endorsed Biden during the primary will also have roles in the convention, CNN added. Nevada state Sen. Yvanna Cancela, Long Beach, California, Mayor Robert Garcia, and Texas state Rep. Victoria Neave, will be among them.

“Latinos are an integral part of the fabric of this nation, which is why we are making significant efforts to ensure Latino voices and experiences are highlighted throughout the Democratic National Convention,” said Julie Chavez Rodriguez, a senior adviser to the Biden campaign. “Latino voters are critical to our path to victory, and as we continue to make our case for Vice President Biden, we will keep investing in reaching out to Latino voters and uplifting individual stories to showcase the diversity and experiences of Latinos throughout the country.