Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Bernie Sanders outside the Capitol earlier this year.

AOC and Bernie Sanders are two of the most influential figures on the American left.It wasn’t always that way. When Sanders ran for president in 2016, AOC was bartending.In a new podcast, she described how the Vermont senator’s first presidential bid radicalized her.

When Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez first heard Sen. Bernie Sanders’s presidential campaign message in 2016, she was radicalized.

“It was the first time that I heard an elected leader say everybody deserves healthcare in this country by the fact that they are born a human being,” the New York Democratic said on an episode of the Vermont senator’s podcast released on Wednesday. “It broke my brain a little bit.”

Ocasio-Cortez described the indignities of bartending and working in restaurants in New York City at the time, including not being able to afford healthcare and receiving a weekly paycheck with just 50 cents in it due to tipped wage laws.

“We normalize this to ourselves, we accept it,” Ocasio-Cortez said of being working class. “I think really deep down, the unconscious rationale that we give ourselves to accept this is: This is what I deserve…this is my lot. This is what I get.”

“I didn’t even realize that I didn’t think I deserved healthcare until I heard someone say that I did,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “And then hearing that, I was like, why don’t we have these things?”

Two years later, Ocasio-Cortez ran for Congress and defeated Rep. Joe Crowley — a local party boss and a likely successor to Nancy Pelosi, then the House Minority Leader — in a stunning upset.

She’s since become an influential leader in her own right, working with Sanders and other progressive Democrats to push policies like Medicare for All and a Green New Deal.

Both Ocasio-Cortez and Sanders have become strong advocates for President Joe Biden’s reelection despite their political differences with him.

“It is unequivocal that mass movements have been able to be more effective under Joe Biden’s presidency than a Donald Trump presidency,” Ocasio-Cortez said.

Sanders recently announced he would seek a fourth term in the US Senate this fall.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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