Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's Democratic Colleagues Seem Pretty Scared of Her

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Conservatives are not the only ones who are collectively losing their goddamn minds over Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, turns out. According to Politico, Ocasio-Cortez is “already making enemies in the House Democratic Caucus,” and “some of its members are mounting an operation” to bring her “into the fold,” which I imagine is a polite way to describe that they want her to shut up.

How exactly is she making enemies, one might ask? Here’s how Politico summed it up:

Incumbent Democrats are most annoyed by Ocasio-Cortez’s threat to back primary opponents against members of their ranks she deems too moderate. But their frustration goes beyond that: Democratic leaders are upset that she railed against their new set of House rules on Twitter the first week of the new Congress. Rank and file are peeved that there’s a grassroots movement to try to win her a top committee post they feel she doesn’t deserve.

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They also paint a picture of her as a bully, who uses Twitter to attack her opponents, comparing her to Donald Trump. “People are afraid of her,” according to an unnamed senior Democratic aide.

“I think she needs to give herself an opportunity to know her colleagues and to give herself a sense of the chemistry of the body before passing judgment on anyone or anything,” Representative Yvette Clark told Politico.

“She’s new here, feeling her way around,” said Congressperson Kurt Schrader. “She doesn’t understand how the place works yet.”

“I’m sure Ms. Cortez means well, but there’s almost an outstanding rule: Don’t attack your own people,” said Missouri Representative Emanuel Cleaver, adding, “We just don’t need sniping in our Democratic Caucus.”

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And one Democratic colleague described as “in lockstep” with Ocasio-Cortez’s politics, had this to say: “She needs to decide: Does she want to be an effective legislator or just continue being a Twitter star? There’s a difference between being an activist and a lawmaker in Congress.”

All of this is very dumb and sure sounds like being mad that Ocasio-Cortez is prioritizing getting shit done around the most urgent crises of our time over some idea of false collegiality that has gotten us nowhere. In just a week into the new Congress, Ocasio-Cortez has been remarkably successful as both an activist and a newly elected official: she has made the Green New Deal, and the idea of raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans to pay for such a program, part of the debate after years of inaction on the part of Democratic leadership.

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As Ocasio-Cortez told Andersoon Cooper, her goal in the House is to build “a progressive agenda” for the Democratic Party, and to pass ambitious—and needed—legislation.

“There are a lot of folks that I think sometimes want to brand me as a flamethrower, but really, I think the truth of what I am is a consensus builder,” she said. “I like to think that I’m persuasive. And so I think a lot of that work is going to be on building relationships and trying to persuade and talk to my colleagues about building a progressive agenda for the party.”

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Ocasio-Cortez added: “I know that when the sun sets on my life, I want to be able to tell my grandchildren that we established a single-payer system, tuition for universities, and that we saved the climate for their future, because we decided to be courageous in the moment and make it happen.”

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About the author

Esther Wang

Senior staff writer, Jezebel