AOC, AOC, AOC: it’s a chant frequently heard throughout the United States since the November mid-term election. For those not of the USA, who do not follow American politics, AOC stands for Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. On January 3, 2019, she became the U.S. Representative for New York's 14th congressional district and at the age of 29, the youngest woman ever to serve in the United States Congress. 
America like no other nation on Earth has a way of creating celebrities. Whatever the field, sports, the arts, business CEOs, entertainment and yes even politics an elite few get made “Stars”. Born in 1989 to parents of Puerto Rican ancestry and by 2011 a graduate of Boston University in international relations, her star began to glimmer while being outspent 18 to 1, she defeated the 10-term incumbent Joe Crowley one of the most elite members of the Democratic caucus by a huge margin of 15 percentage points.
 
Her election to Congress was a foregone conclusion as the Bronx was overwhelming Democrat with AOC winning 78% of the vote.  Between November 6th 2018 and January 3rd 2019, a mear four weeks Ocasio-Cortez arguably became the second most powerful Democrat in the Country after Nancy Pelosi.
 
So how can Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez be a symbol through which Rotary International can transform itself in America and similar Western nations?
 
Rotary’s leadership appears desperate to lower its average age of membership by attracting younger members. That is hard to do when most members are well beyond what society deems as youthful. AOC won the primary by “expanding the electorate;” in Rotary speak that’s recruiting new members. AOC reminds us that it will take young people to recruit more young people.
 
AOC is also a symbol of what can’t happen in Rotary. We do not have a structure which permits a young person to rise out of nowhere over the space of a few months to become one of the most influential members of the organisation. That’s because we do not have a system which chooses leaders democratically through referenda but one in which elites sit on nominating committees to choose a candidate who has previously held a prescribed series of progressively more important posts.
 
Reportedly, Rotary does have a “seven-member elite Shaping Rotary Futures Committee” which according to a February 15th meeting of Zone 24 & 32 leaders at Evanston Headquarters “is looking at all the governance structures at different levels.” The existence of such a committee is a ray of hope. However, it is doubtful any revolution will occur without an AOC style voice to inspire them to dare the impossible.
 
I’m sure there are many Rotarians who know the downside of America’s fascination with celebrities. Many stars appear briefly and fall quickly from view. It remains to be seen if Ocasio-Cortez will be such a figure. None-the-less, Rotary could benefit from having a nationally prominent Millennial with AOC like magnetism espousing the benefits of joining Rotary.   
 
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