‘The Democratic Party is the party of coalitions, not a cult…’
(Ben Sellers, Liberty Headlines) The radical activist group that helped Alexandria Ocasio–Cortez, D-NY, go from bartender to congressperson only two years ago is no longer a blip on her radar.
According to Politico, Ocasio–Cortez has abandoned Justice Democrats as she moves to become more of a coalition-builder within the party establishment, perhaps with her own higher-office prospects in mind.
She since has endorsed only two of the half-dozen primary challengers backed by Justice Democrats, veering away from the organization’s aim to push already liberal Democrats even farther to the left and focusing instead—through her own political-action committee—on targeting only ‘conservative’ blue-dog Democrats.
The transformation began last August, when she replaced many of the more ideologically driven staffers, including her chief of staff, Justice Democrats co-founder Saikat Chakrabarti, who had insulted some of her House colleagues by attacking them as racist.
On March 20, the group made the severance official by ousting Ocasio–Cortez and her current chief of staff from the Justice Democrats board, reported the Daily Caller.
However, the rift has gone beyond her falling out with the organization and its objectives. Even after endorsing him, Ocasio–Cortez has been reluctant to support fellow socialist Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., on the campaign trail, ostensibly over Sanders’ embrace of anti-transgender comedian Joe Rogan’s endorsement in January.
After Sanders crossed wires with fellow progressive Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., during the campaign, Ocasio–Cortez even seemed to back Warren, denouncing “Bernie Bros” for being overly conflict-oriented using online bullying and harassment tactics.
In the meantime, her distancing from the far-left has coincided with a softening of her stance on establishment figures like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., whom Ocasio–Cortez referred to in February as the “mama bear of the Democratic Party,” Politico reported.
Ocasio–Cortez’s rejection of her radical roots earned the freshman representative praise from left-wing establishment figures like longtime Clinton ally James Carville, who has engaged in a public feud with Sanders.
“The Democratic Party is the party of coalitions, not a cult,” Carville told Politico.
“I’ve observed her. I think she’s really talented, that she’s really smart,” Carville added. “Maybe she is—I don’t speak for her—coming to the conclusion that she wants to be part of the coalition.”
Neera Tanden, president of the far-left Center for American Progress, which has strong ties to Clinton ally John Podesta, likewise heralded the move as a mark of “leadership” within the ever evolving party.
“There are some people on the left who thought that their views represented a strong majority,” Tanden said, “and the primary process has shown that voters diverged, that Sanders is winning a minority and smaller minority than he had four years ago.”
Politico said that many of Ocasio–Cortez’s former backers were reluctant to speak ill of her, insisting she remains the most “anti-establishment” Democrat in power and is a likely heir to Sanders’s radical revolution.
“If Bernie is Moses, then AOC is Joshua,” said Max Berger, a Justice Democrats member and outreach director on Warren’s recent campaign, referring to the Bible’s Old Testament patriarchs who led to the settling and founding of Israel.
Some—including President Donald Trump—have speculated that Ocasio–Cortez may seek to oust Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-NY, or at least force him into a primary.
Others wonder if the 30-year-old, who will reach the constitutionally mandated age of 35 just before the 2024 election, may already have the White House in her sights.
Waleed Shahid, a Justice Democrats spokesperson, was one of several organization members—including Chakrabarti, who offered glowing statements in defense of Ocasio–Cortez’s bid to woo the establishment.
““I can’t think of an elected politician who’s doing more to support primary challengers and a new generation of progressive leadership in the Democratic Party than her,” Shahid said.
With Sanders’s primary hopes waning, Shahid also was quick to draw contrasts between the two leaders of the progressive fringe.
“Bernie is the first leftist politician who has received a national platform in a long time in this country, and so some people say that every leftist politician has got to be like Bernie,” Shahid said. “But AOC is a different person with a different set of life experiences. So how she leads will be different. I don’t think it’s a difference in ideology, it may be a difference in approach.”