AOC Says She May Quit Politics Over Deep Hostility from Centrist Democrats
AOC revealed that she has considered exiting politics due to the hostility of her own party.
While New York Rep. Aexandria Ocasio-Cortez won an easy and overwhelming victory on Election Day, the popular left-wing Democrat has revealed that she has considered exiting politics due to the hostility of her own party toward progressive causes.
“I don’t even know if I want to be in politics,” Ocasio-Cortez told the The New York Times. “You know, for real, in the first six months of my term, I didn’t even know if I was going to run for re-election this year.”
The 31-year-old New York congresswoman, famously known as AOC, is clearly a rising star in U.S. politics and is widely seen as the potential successor to Bernie Sanders’ progressive wing of the party.
In an interview with the New York Times, however, the Bronx native said that the centrists in the Democratic Party have revealed a deep hostility to the causes cherished by progressives, including Medicare For All and the Movement for Black Lives.
“Externally, there’s been a ton of support,” she added. “But internally, it’s been extremely hostile to anything that even smells progressive.”
While many Democrats are still celebrating Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential elections, Democrats are also reckoning with the reasons behind their lackluster performance in down-ballot races, with Republicans potentially maintaining control of the Senate and Democrats losing House seats.
The poor performance in an election contest that drew record levels of voters, especially in battleground states, has led to widespread finger-pointing – with many blaming their shrunken House majority on Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s leadership, as well as an inability to remain on-message and organize a strong ground game to rally support.
Establishment Democrats have also decried the presence of progressives and democratic socialists in the ranks of the party, blaming young insurgents like Ocasio-Cortez for taking the party too far to the left and potentially alienating that small faction of undecided conservatives who might have voted blue.
For Ocasio-Cortez, her treatment from Democratic careerists and centrists has led her to believe she and her progressive colleagues are seen as the “enemy.”
“I need my colleagues to understand that we are not the enemy. And that their base is not the enemy. That the Movement for Black Lives is not the enemy, that Medicare for all is not the enemy,” Ocasio-Cortez said.
Ocasio-Cortez rejects the idea that progressives were at fault for the Democratic losses, instead blaming the complacent centrists in the party who made themselves “sitting ducks.”
“Before we even had any data yet in a lot of these races, there was already finger-pointing that this was progressives’ fault and that this was the fault of the Movement for Black Lives,” Ocasio-Cortez said.
Instead, incumbents and candidates who lost their seats or fared poorly should blame their own inability to run a campaign “on all cylinders” for their losses, she added, commenting: “I just don’t see how anyone could be making ideological claims when they didn’t run a full-fledged campaign.”
Additionally, the Democrats continue to believe that establishment centrists remain content with messaging that fails to stir up emergent voting blocs and those who feel apathetic about the U.S. electoral process.
“It’s really hard for us to turn out nonvoters when they feel like nothing changes for them. When they feel like people don’t see them, or even acknowledge their turnout,” she said.
The New York congresswoman explained that the Democrats’ avoidance of progressive issues simply won’t galvanize the support it needs to win future races.
“This isn’t even just about winning an argument,” she added. “It’s that if they keep going after the wrong thing, I mean, they’re just setting up their own obsolescence.”
The hostility that she’s faced from her opponents both inside and outside the party has also given her pause about continuing her political career.
“It’s the incoming. It’s the stress. It’s the violence. It’s the lack of support from your own party. It’s your own party thinking you’re the enemy. When your own colleagues talk anonymously in the press and then turn around and say you’re bad because you actually append your name to your opinion,” she said.
“I’m serious when I tell people the odds of me running for higher office and the odds of me just going off trying to start a homestead somewhere — they’re probably the same,” she added.
Ocasio-Cortez’s own ability to beat much more well-funded opponents has been impeccable since her rise to political stardom in 2016. However, centrist Democrats in battleground states have disregarded her talents even when she offered them.
“I’ve been begging the party to let me help them for two years,” she said. “That’s also the damn thing of it. I’ve been trying to help. Before the election, I offered to help every single swing district Democrat with their operation. And every single one of them, but five, refused my help.”
Indeed, progressives chalked up major wins in races across the country. All four members of the group of congressional freshmen known as the “The Squad” – consisting of Representatives Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, and Ayanna Pressley – handily won reelections last week while unabashedly championing progressive causes.
And with Biden’s presidential win, left-wing Democrats aren’t planning to shrink back and toe the party line dictated by the DNC – instead, they plan to use their significant clout and influence to push Congress, as well as their party, to champion more progressive causes.
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