How Ocasio-Cortez’s “Squad” Turned Into Most Polarising Word Of The Year

 
 

How Ocasio-Cortez's 'Squad' Turned Into Most Polarising Word Of The Year

The Squad’s members have already managed to draw attention to their shared progressive values

 

Highlights

  1. 4 congresswomen-elect had to be interviewed for the history they had made
  2. Their profiles on social media brings attention to Capitol Hill Squad
  3. Tlaib has said last week that “Squad” has a broad political meaning
 
 

It began on Instagram – of course.

The four congresswomen-elect, in Washington for the November 2018 new-member orientation, had gathered for an interview about the history they had made. There simply had not been people like them in Congress before: no one younger than Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez; no Muslim women before Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib; no black woman representing Massachusetts before Ayanna Pressley.

Afterward, someone snapped a photo of them smiling broadly, and then came a crucial question: how to caption it for the ‘gram. As they would later tell CBS’ Gayle King, Ocasio-Cortez had an idea: How about something like “#squadgoals?”

So Ocasio-Cortez slapped “Squad” on a post, uploaded it and tagged her colleagues, who followed with similar posts. It was a spontaneous, perfectly natural thing for a millennial woman to do and, as it turns out, a moment of serendipitous branding.

“So many of us didn’t run to be the first of anything,” Tlaib said this week as she left a hearing. “We ran to change people’s lives for the better.”

But they are firsts, and that – along with their high profiles on social media – has brought a massive amount of attention to the Capitol Hill Squad.

“Squad” – dictionary-defined as a small, organized military group, or any small group engaged in a common effort – carries a specific cultural meaning about loyalty and friendship built up from its use in black culture, hip-hop and, more recently, through social media hashtags, by Taylor Swift and your boomer parents texting GIFs. Now “squad” has fully entered the political arena as shorthand for the four progressive lawmakers and what they represent; the term is humorlessly cited on cable news banners, evoked by the lawmakers’ supporters and lobbed on Twitter by a president intent on using the quartet as a political foil.