It has been made abundantly clear over the last two years that progressive firebrand Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) is no fan of her party’s establishment leaders — and that includes House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).
Now, AOC has put Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) on notice: It’s time for them to start packing their things and making way for a new generation of leaders on the left.
“We need to shift power”
The remarks from Rep. Ocasio-Cortez came during an interview with The Intercept’s Intercepted podcast this week. There, the congresswoman was asked plainly by host Jeremy Scahill: “Are you ready to say, ‘Pelosi and Schumer need to go?'”
After musing about the challenges faced by those who want to pursue leadership, AOC finally came clean.
“The answer is yes,” she said, as The Intercept reported. “The answer is we need to shift power; we need to make sure that we have a transition of power in the leadership of the Democratic Party.”
“We need new leadership”
Those comments came just moments after Scahill had pressed Ocasio-Cortez on whether Pelosi and Schumer’s continued failure to strike a deal with Republicans on coronavirus relief for Americans serves as “grounds” for their removal from leadership.
“I do think that we need new leadership in the Democratic Party,” Ocasio-Cortez said plainly in response, according to The Intercept. “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, if you will, you know?”
Of course, that doesn’t mean the New York lawmaker feels she’s the right person for the job. “I think it’s easy for someone to say, ‘Oh, well, you know, why don’t you run?’ But the House is extraordinarily complex,” she told Scahill. “And I’m not ready. It can’t be me! I know that I couldn’t do that job.”
AOC also warned in her talk with Intercepted that Dems don’t have a plan for when Pelosi, an 80-year-old Democrat who has been in Congress for more than three decades, retires. “My concern, and this I acknowledge as a failing, as something that we need to sort out, is that there isn’t a plan,” she told Scahill.
A rift on the left?
The outspoken congresswoman’s call for new leadership comes in the wake of a dramatic underperformance by Democrats in both chambers in the recent elections, but it also follows informal virtual votes by the two Democratic caucuses to keep both Pelosi and Schumer on as leaders, at least until formal votes can be held once the new Congress convenes in January.
Indeed, with moderates continuing to support the party’s longtime leaders and progressives like AOC only getting more vocal in their pushback, it looks as though the rift that seemed to be forming among those on the left is only growing deeper by the day — and Ocasio-Cortez, for her part, doesn’t seem very optimistic for the future.
“You know, do we need new leadership of the Democratic Party? Absolutely,” she reportedly told Scahill. “But how do we ensure that when we shift we don’t even move further to the right? And that’s the kind of thing that keeps me up when I think about what we’re going to do moving towards the future.”