News & Politics

Democrats Throw Up Their Hands in Frustration as AOC Rages On

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a Democratic congressional candidate from New York, waves during a rally, Friday, July 20, 2018, in Wichita, Kan. (Jaime Green/The Wichita Eagle via AP)

How do you solve a problem like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez? In truth, AOC is causing far more problems for the Democratic majority than the opposition Republicans. And establishment Democrats are beginning to become annoyed with her.

After all, she’s been in office for less than a fortnight and hasn’t done anything except tweet out ridiculous comic book references and scare the beejeebees out of rational Democrats by pushing her multi-trillion-dollar “Green New Deal.”

Yes, but she was on “60 Minutes” and got to call Donald Trump a racist on national television.

She is threatening to primary Democrats who are insufficiently enamored with her socialist vision of America. This is about as dumb a move as any frosh member of Congress has ever pulled. Older and wiser Democrats don’t care how many Twitter followers she has or how much ink she’s getting.

AOC is heading for a fall.


Some lawmakers with ties to Ocasio-Cortez are hoping to coax her into using her star power to unite Democrats and turn her fire on Republicans. Others simultaneously warn Ocasio-Cortez is destined for a lonely, ineffectual career in Congress if she continues to treat her own party as the enemy.

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

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.

Other Democrats are less shy in their complaints about her, but there are signs that someone may have whispered in her ear that unless she wants a back seat on the Post Office Committee, she better get with the program and tone down the anti-establishment rhetoric.

In a brief exchange off the House floor recently, she said she wasn’t interested in backing progressive candidates against incumbent Democrats — contradicting her own words after the midterms. She also criticized POLITICO for publishing a story suggesting she considered backing a primary opponent against rising star Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), who many believe could become the first black speaker.

“I’m focused on my job,” Ocasio-Cortez said.

Her spokesman, Corbin Trent, added: “There has been a change in focus — though not a change in ideology.”

Some House Democrats aren’t convinced. They’ve noticed that Ocasio-Cortez has hired two former organizers from the anti-establishment group Justice Democrats to run her office. One of them, her new chief of staff Saikat Chakrabarti, told supporters during a November conference call that “we gotta primary folks.”

I don’t think she can help herself. As a true believer, “moderation” is a dirty word. What she will eventually discover, however, is that going over the top to gain headlines and notoriety will be her downfall. How do you go “over the top”? By becoming louder and nastier, and more controversial. That may sit well with the socialist caucus and the justice Democrats, but saner members of her party will end up marginalizing her and condemning her to permanent back-bench status.

I give her nine months before she flames out.