She's the youngest member of Congress and one of the country's most well-known lawmakers — and now she's graced the cover of a legendary U.S. magazine. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez will be on the cover of TIME magazine next week for its April 1 issue. Accompanying the image is an in-depth profile of the congresswoman, whom TIME correspondent Charlotte Alter calls "America's newest human Rorschach test."
"Wonder Woman of the left, Wicked Witch of the right, Ocasio-Cortez has become the second most talked-about politician in America, after the President of the United States," Alter writes.
TIME has cut down on its print circulation in recent years but has maintained relevance in part through its influential covers. The magazine touts the fact that its images address the most significant topics of the day and sometimes propel national conversations. Last year, for example, TIME's covers featured Christine Blasey Ford, Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, and President Donald Trump juxtaposed with a small migrant child.
So it's only fitting that Ocasio-Cortez — who is extraordinarily popular and has far more social media engagement than most of her congressional colleagues — got a TIME cover of her own. And as usual, she's used the opportunity to make the case for her progressive vision for the country.
"I used to be much more cynical about how much was up against us," Ocasio-Cortez told TIME. "I think I've changed my mind. Because I think that change is a lot closer than we think."
The profile describes how the congresswoman's past informs her ideology. She struggled economically for much of her 20s, in part because she held a mountain of student debt from her time at Boston University. "We have an entire generation that is delaying or forgoing purchasing houses," Ocasio-Cortez told TIME. "Our entire economy is slowing down due to the student loan crisis."
The debt is certain to be a major issue in the 2020 race (particularly for millennials); 44 million people have student debt in the United States and it amounts to nearly $1.57 trillion overall. Many Democratic presidential candidates have already made addressing the crisis part of their agenda.
Ocasio-Cortez delved into other major issues she's trying to highlight within the Democratic Party, like health care. She told TIME that she personally used to have an Affordable Care Act plan and that her deductible was still enormous. The congresswoman is a proponent of Medicare for All, a national single-payer health insurance program that would replace almost all private insurance. Medicare for All polls very well on both sides of the aisle.
"The gig economy is about not giving people full-time jobs," Ocasio-Cortez told TIME, citing her own experience working multiple part-time positions to survive. "So it should be no secret why Millennials want to decouple your insurance status from your employment status."
TIME's profile also illustrates how far Ocasio-Cortez has come from the days when she was an unknown figure campaigning against then-Rep. Joe Crowley in New York's 14th congressional district. The congresswoman told the magazine that many people tried to stop her from running for office because they didn't like her chances.
"Everyone said, 'She's really cute, but maybe next time,'" Ocasio-Cortez said. They couldn't have been more wrong.