Ever since Democrats reclaimed control of the House in the 2018 midterm elections, there has seemingly been a sort of unstated challenge to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s leadership posed by several of the newly elected far-left progressive members of her caucus.
One of the more outspoken of those freshmen members has been New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, but Pelosi just issued a subtle smackdown of the young socialist who soaks up the spotlight of media attention by reminding her that there is real work to be done.
Ocasio-Cortez, social media star
Pelosi was recently interviewed by USA Today for an extensive article on the challenges of maintaining unity in an often-divided caucus and staying focused on advancing the Democratic Party’s agenda while thwarting the objectives of President Donald Trump.
It didn’t take long before the topic of Ocasio-Cortez came up, as the young congresswoman has a knack for grabbing headlines by espousing her economically ignorant views and socialist beliefs on all sorts of matters, often by way of tweets to her 4 million Twitter followers.
Ironically, this use of social media to reach her fans and supporters is remarkably similar to how President Trump does the same with tweets to his own base of nearly 60 million followers.
Pelosi seemed less than impressed with Ocasio-Cortez’s social media stardom, however, much less the way in which she calls out her own party for compromising with Republicans too much or not pressing the same radical progressive policies she and other young socialists would prefer.
Floor votes more important than Twitter followers
“While there are people who have a large number of Twitter followers, what’s important is that we have large numbers of votes on the floor of the House,” Pelosi told USA Today, not naming Ocasio-Cortez personally, though the congresswoman’s identity was obviously implied.
Pelosi noted that a key for her was to try and bridge the gap with the “boldest common denominator” between radical progressives like Ocasio-Cortez and the more moderate liberals of the party who managed to win seats in formerly Republican districts that had been carried by Trump in 2016.
That isn’t always easy to do, though, as was evidenced by the rise of the tea party among Republicans in 2010 that created a deep rift in the party for years, and that ultimately forced the resignations/retirements of former Speakers John Boehner and Paul Ryan.
The new young progressive caucus on the left — arguably led by Ocasio-Cortez — has been compared somewhat to the right’s tea party for similar reasons, in that it too threatens to divide the left between establishment moderates and those seeking to pursue a more radical path to achieve agenda success.
Pelosi pulling rank
Pelosi’s remark about floor votes being more important than Twitter followers would seem to suggest that she isn’t about to sit back and allow the young progressives like Ocasio-Cortez to challenge her leadership or undermine her agenda as Speaker.
Whether Ocasio-Cortez and others take the hint, or Pelosi is compelled to be more direct in swatting down the upstarts, remains to be seen at this time.