Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said Wednesday that the Democratic Party needs ‘new leadership’ in a snub to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer – but insisted she can’t be the one to take on that role.
The New York representative also admitted that even if Pelosi and Schumer were to go, the progressive wing of the party has no plan on who would fill those vacancies. And she said the replacement could end up being worse and ‘even more conservative’ than the current Democratic leaders.
‘How do we fill that vacuum? Because if you create that vacuum, there are so many nefarious forces at play to fill that vacuum with something even worse,’ Ocasio-Cortez told The Intercept podcast ‘Intercepted’ in an interview that aired Wednesday.
‘And so, the actual sad state of affairs is that there are folks more conservative than even they are willing to kind of fill that void,’ she said.
Ocasio-Cortez, 31, admitted that she couldn’t be the one to fill that void in party leadership should they kick Pelosi, 80, and Schumer, 70, to the curb, claiming it was too much for her to take on so early in her political career.
‘The House is extraordinarily complex and I’m not ready,’ the progressive Democratic firebrand, dubbed AOC, said. ‘It can’t be me. I know that I couldn’t do that job.’
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said in an interview that aired Wednesday that the Democratic Party needs ‘new leadership’ in Congress, but said ‘It can’t be me. I know that I couldn’t do that job’
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (left) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (right) easily won reelection this year – running unopposed
Pelosi easily sailed to reelection as House Speaker in a virtual caucus vote last month, without any challengers – even though the lower chamber suffered a series of unexpected losses in the November elections resulting in a slimmed majority – the thinnest in decades.
‘I do think we need new leadership in the Democratic Party,’ Ocasio-Cortez said in her interview. ‘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 [are] very little options for succession.’
Pelosi has indicated that this term could be her last.
Schumer also easily won reelection for his minority leadership position without any in-party challengers.
Other Democratic leaders Ocasio-Cortez could be referring to in pleading for new faces include Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and Majority Whip James Clyburn, who has been highly critical of the ‘defund police’ slogan, which AOC has embraced along with other progressive lawmakers.
Both Hoyer and Clyburn have held their positions for more than a decade and were reelected by this year – running unopposed.
AOC’s recent comments could indicate clashes are set to ensue within the Democratic caucus in the coming years between establishment and progressive arms of the party, even as they celebrate defeating Donald Trump in his reelection bid.
‘The answer is we need to shift power,’ Ocasio-Cortez said. ‘We need to make sure that we have a transition of power in the Democratic Party.’
Ocasio-Cortez, who was first elected to Congress to represent New York’s 14th district, easily won reelection on November 3 despite a well-funded attempt by Democrats and Republicans to unseat her.
AOC’s district includes parts of The Bronx and Queens in New York City. Before running for office she worked on Bernie Sanders’ 2016 failed bid to be the Democratic presidential candidate.
The two identify as Democratic-socialists and have become the faces of the most leftward wing of the party.
At the Democratic National Convention this year, Ocasio-Cortez rejected Joe Biden’s nomination by instead, in a long-shot effort, endorsing Sanders to become the nominee despite him dropping out of the race earlier in the summer.
As AOC says she cannot be the one to take a leadership role in the House, she was unable to pose any other valid alternatives, claiming the current party leaders have not concentrated pon ‘grooming on next generation of leadership.’
‘My concern — and I acknowledge this as a failing, as something that we need to sort out — is that there isn’t a plan,’ she said, adding that the lack of leadership potential ends up forcing out newcomers to Capitol Hill to pursue other opportunities – possibly in state and local government.