Progressives Are 'Not the Enemy,' Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Warns Democratic Leadership

Progressives Are 'Not the Enemy,' Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Warns Democratic Leadership
Photo:Samuel Corum (Getty Images)

Despite former vice president Joe Biden’s victory over presidential incumbent Donald Trump, the “Blue Wave” that Democrats had hoped for in the rest of the 2020 elections have totally failed to make landfall.

While some of those races have yet to be called, the party has thus far lost seats in the House of Representatives, The New York Times reports, though likely not enough to lose control of Congress’ lower house. And though Democrats have gained seats in the Senate, it probably won’t be enough to wrest the chamber from its current Republican leadership. The losses are perhaps more disappointing at the state level, where, the Times notes, matters such as maintaining abortion access and defunding the police are decided, as efforts to flip legislative chambers in Texas, Iowa, North Carolina, and Michigan amounted to nothing.

In the wake of these failures, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a progressive Democrat who has represented New York’s 14th congressional district since 2019, has some advice for her party’s conservative, centrist leadership. Speaking with Times political reporter Astead W. Herndon, the 31-year-old Bronx-born politician explains that Democrats would do better in the long run to embrace its progressive base rather than shun activists, protesters, and so-called “radical” agenda items in an attempt to win over swing voters:

The leadership and elements of the party — frankly, people in some of the most important decision-making positions in the party — are becoming so blinded to this anti-activist sentiment that they are blinding themselves to the very assets that they offer.
I’ve been begging the party to let me help them for two years. 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. And all five of the vulnerable or swing district people that I helped secured victory or are on a path to secure victory. And every single one that rejected my help is losing. And now they’re blaming us for their loss.
So 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. This isn’t even just about winning an argument. It’s that if they keep going after the wrong thing, I mean, they’re just setting up their own obsolescence.

The congresswoman, who won reelection in her New York City district last week, also suggests that if Democratic Party leadership wants to win back the white electorate from the GOP, it should focus on organizing antiracist canvassing and other consciousness-raising tactics rather than placating that base’s reactionary, white supremacist tendencies:

The share of white support for Trump. I thought the polling was off, but just seeing it, there was that feeling of realizing what work we have to do.
We need to do a lot of anti-racist, deep canvassing in this country. Because if we keep losing white shares and just allowing Facebook to radicalize more and more elements of white voters and the white electorate, there’s no amount of people of color and young people that you can turn out to offset that.
But the problem is that right now, I think a lot of Dem strategy is to avoid actually working through this. Just trying to avoid poking the bear. That’s their argument with defunding police, right? To not agitate racial resentment. I don’t think that is sustainable.

Read the full interview here.

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