Amid reports of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s fellow Democrats warning that the outspoken socialist and “future” of the party is quickly “making enemies” with her colleagues and seems poised to “fizz out” soon, a conference of moderate Democrats included a lot of handwringing over the party’s radical direction — which the congressional candidate is steering even harder left.
The upstart self-described Socialist Democrat took the party by storm in June with her primary upset victory over incumbent Joseph Crowley, the New York congressman whom many expected to be “Nancy Pelosi’s successor.” Since her big win, the young candidate has doubled down on her radical left message, including becoming the face of the #AbolishICE movement, calling for activists to “occupy” airports, and denouncing the evils of capitalism.
Amid controversy over her disastrous interview with PBS’s “Firing Line” and her calls for disruptive protests, Democrats worried that her radical message will crash and burn in Middle America are beginning to push back. Though many in a conference of moderate Democrats last week in Columbus, Ohio tried to avoid bringing up her name or vent their spleen too openly, some couldn’t help but decry her social justice warrior approach to issues.
“A small but vocal subgroup that is unhinged from evidence will be wrong in the long run, regardless of how loud they are,” said Iowa state Sen. Jeff Danielson, McClatchy DC reports. As one who has only managed to get elected by embracing the more moderate approach promoted by Third Way, the centrist-left think tank that hosted the conference, Danielson said he feared Ocasio-Cortez’s agenda would be rejected by moderate Democrats as nothing but a “grievance list.” The Democrats, he suggested, still “haven’t found our sea legs as a party” in the age of Trump.
McClatchy also quotes some of the leaders of Third Way, who are sounding the alarm to those Democrats who’ll listen that their year-long study of voters found that the hard-left agenda of Ocasio-Cortez and Bernie Sanders — particularly focusing on income inequality, decrying capitalism and pushing for single-payer healthcare — gets “trounced” in the polls versus more centrist, mainstream stances. The best message, Third Way found, is for Democrats to become the party of “opportunity.”
“Once again, the time has come to mend, but not end, capitalism for a new era,” said Third Way President Jonathan Cowan.
Others on the Left have been even more direct in their critique of Ocasio-Cortez. The Hill recently reported some of the warning shots fired by her potential colleagues on Capitol Hill after she accused Crowley of trying to upset her run for his seat.
Asked if she’s making enemies among her fellow Democrats, New Jersey’s Rep. Bill Pascrell said, “Yes. No doubt about it.” Though he said she’s not “asking my advice,” he said he’d “do it differently, rather than make enemies of people.”
Florida’s Rep. Alcee Hastings also warned that “meteors fizz out” and suggested Ocasio-Cortez was on the fast-track to getting her “comeuppance.”
“What she will learn in this institution is that it’s glacial to begin with, and therefore no matter how far you rise, that’s just how far you will ultimately get your comeuppance,” said Hastings. “You come up here and you’re going to be buddy-buddy with all the folks or you’re going to make them do certain things? Ain’t happening, OK?”