There has long been a growing divide between the moderate and progressive wings of the Democratic Party, and that divide has become more prominent in the weeks since the election.
As a recent example of that conflict, U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) weighed in with her belief that the party is in desperate need of new leadership — meaning House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and others have to go.
Intraparty rifts grow deeper
Given her frank and forthright prognosis, the intraparty clash might be coming to a head before some pundits predicted.
To be sure, the conflict between moderate and progressive Democrats did not emerge overnight, nor did Ocasio-Cortez’s opposition to Pelosi come out of left field.
Such rifts have become more obvious since the election, however, as the party underperformed in races across the nation and actually lost seats to retain only a slim majority in the upcoming congressional session.
In an appearance on The Intercept’s Intercepted podcast, Ocasio-Cortez expressed a range of concerns, including the perceived inability of Congress to reach a deal on a second coronavirus relief package.
She specifically cited the failures she identified in the leadership of Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY).
“The internal dynamics”
“Well, you know, I do think that we need new leadership in the Democratic Party,” Ocasio-Cortez said, as Fox News reported. “I think one of the things that I have struggled with — I think that a lot of people struggle with — is the internal dynamics of the House has made it such that there’s very little option for succession.”
As for the notion that she would challenge Pelosi for the speakership, however, she quickly dismissed it.
“But the House is extraordinarily complex,” Ocasio-Cortez said with a laugh. “And I’m not ready. It can’t be me! I know that I couldn’t do that job.”
She went on to lament a dearth of “viable alternatives,” however, which she said is “the result of just many years of power being concentrated in leadership with a lack of real grooming a next generation of leadership.”
Moderates in the party have similarly expressed concern about Democratic leaders in the aftermath of the election, too. As Democrat Rep. Abigail Spanberger (VA) explained following a near loss on Election Day: “If we want to talk about funding social services and ensuring good engagement and community policing, let’s talk about what we are for. And we need to not ever use the words ‘socialist’ or ‘socialism’ ever again… We lost good members because of that.”