Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez blamed ‘Republican narratives’ for tearing Democrats apart as she revealed over the weekend she considered not running for reelection due to in-house fighting between the progressive and establishment arms of the Party.
When asked by The New York Times if she would consider running for the Senate if Joe Biden‘s administration ended up being too ‘hostile’ toward progressive causes, Ocasio-Cortez said, ‘I genuinely don’t know. I don’t even know if I want to be in politics.’
‘You know, for real, in the first six months of my term, I didn’t even know if I was going to run for re-election this year,’ she added.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was confident going into Tuesday’s election that the Democrat-controlled lower chamber would be able to pick up a dozen more seats to widen their majority.
Instead, Republicans were able to close the gap by so far gaining a net 8 seats, including beating incumbent Democrats and flipping several blue districts red. Although they still hold a minority, the margin is much slimmer, creating a more powerful GOP caucus in the House.
‘Republicans levied very effective rhetorical attacks against our party,’ Ocasio-Cortez told CNN’s Jake Tapper during an interview on ‘State of the Union’ Sunday morning.
Many establishment Democrats blamed progressive lawmakers for this loss, mainly Ocasio-Cortez and her ‘squad,’ which includes Reps. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan; Ilhan Omar of Minnesota; and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said over the weekend that she considered not running for reelection and exiting politics because of how divided the Democratic Party has become and how ‘hostile’ they are toward progressives
Democratic House Majority Whip James Clyburn of South Carolina said labels from progressives like ‘socialist’ and movements like ‘defund police’ hurt the Party in congressional races
House Majority Whip James Clyburn is among the ranks of Democrats who butt heads with the ‘squad.’
He says labels like ‘socialist’ and calls from lawmakers to ‘defund the police’ can ‘kill a political effort’ because they are losing points with most Americans.
‘I don’t get hung up on labels,’ Clyburn said. ‘I’m an American, a very proud American. And I’m a Democrat, a very proud Democrat. So I just want us to be Democrats in a big tent, and these labels, I reject.’
NBC’s Chuck Todd asked Clyburn, the top ranking black Democrat in the House, if he feels the ‘defund police’ movement and socialism label cost his caucus seats this election cycle.
‘Well, I don’t know about all the seats,’ Clyburn said during his appearance on ‘Meet the Press’ Sunday morning.
‘I really believe that that’s what cost Joe Cunningham his seat,’ he added of the Democrat incumbent from South Carolina who lost to Republican challenger Nancy Mace.
‘And I can also tell you about the Senate here in South Carolina,’ Clyburn continued. ‘Jaime Harrison started to plateau when ‘defund the police’ showed up with a caption on TV, ran across his head. That stuff hurt Jaime. And that’s why I spoke out against it a long time ago.’
Harrison lost his effort against Senator Lindsey Graham to turn a South Carolina Senate seat blue.
‘I’ve always said that these headlines can kill a political effort,’ he told Todd. ‘We are all about making headway. And I just hope that going forward we will think about each one of these Congressional districts and let people represent their districts. You know, Joe Cunningham could not get elected in my district and I can’t get elected in his. So let’s recognize that the people should reflect that diversity in our country.’
Ocasio-Cortez pushed back against this on Sunday.
‘Not a single member of Congress that I’m aware of campaigned on socialism or defunding the police in this general election,’ she asserted. ‘And these were largely slogans or where they were demands from activist groups that we saw in the largest uprising in American history around police brutality.’
‘And so the question that we have is, how can we build in a more effective Democratic operation that is stronger and more resilient to Republican attacks?’ Ocasio-Cortez posed. ‘And I believe that there are many areas that we can point at in centralized Democratic operations that are extraordinarily weak. For example, our digital campaigning is very weak. And this is an area where Republicans are actually quite strong.’
Clyburn won his reelection effort in South Carolina’s 6th District.
He said he spoke with those two incumbent Democrats who lost their seats in Miami-area districts to Republican candidates, and said they felt calls to defund police and the classification of their Party as ‘socialist’ hurt them.
‘I’ve talked to the people down in South Florida, they told me that that really, really was a problem down there,’ Clyburn said.
The ‘defund police’ movement garnered traction over the summer as relations between the blac community and law enforcement heightened following a string of police-related deaths – starting with George Floyd.
Progressive protesters, and lawmakers, began calling for a complete defunding of police departments, labeling the system as systematically racist and ‘broken.’
Ocasio-Cortez said there are things, other than ‘defund police’, that progressives bring to the table for the Party that should be embraced – like Medicare for all.
‘We can help,’ she said during an interview with CNN’s ‘State of the Union’ Sunday morning of those who label themselves ‘Democratic socialists.’
‘It’s not saying that every member has to campaign as a progressive, in a traditional progressive way,’ she told host Jake Tapper. ‘But it’s to say that we have assets to offer the Party that the Party has not yet, you know, fully leaned into or exploited. And I believe that we can take some of these seats.’
When The Times asked Ocasio-Cortez why she considered getting out of politics, she said there is a ‘lack of support’ from Democrats and that she has been labeled the ‘enemy.’
‘It’s the stress. It’s the violence. It’s the lack of support from your own party. It’s your own party thinking you’re the enemy,’ the New York City representative said. ‘When your own colleagues talk anonymously in the press and then turn around and say you’re bad because you actually append your name to your opinion.’
‘I chose to run for re-election because I felt like I had to prove that this is real,’ she said. ‘That this movement was real. That I wasn’t a fluke. That people really want guaranteed health care and that people really want the Democratic Party to fight for them.’
‘But I’m serious when I tell people the odds of me running for higher office and the odds of me just going off trying to start a homestead somewhere — they’re probably the same.’
The ‘defund police’ movement garnered support following heightened tensions between law enforcement and the black community over the summer
Two days after the election on Thursday, a series of leaks began streaming into the media from a phone call between the Democratic caucus after losing several members and seeing seats go red.
The phone call included Democrats attacking each other for either having too progressive or too moderate views on the direction of the Party.
Clyburn told CNN during an interview Sunday morning that he feels ‘sloganeering’ is hurting Democrats.
‘Months ago, I came out very publicly and very forcibly against sloganeering,’ he said. ‘John [Lewis] and I sat on the House floor and talked about that defund the police slogan, and both of us concluded that it had the possibilities of doing to the Black Lives Matter movement and current movements across the country what ‘Burn, baby, burn’ did to us back in 1960.’
‘We lost that movement over that slogan,’ he added.
‘So, I spoke about against the sloganeering. And I feel very strongly we can’t pick up these things just because it makes a good headline. It sometimes destroys headway,’ Clyburn said. ‘We need to work on what makes headway, rather than what makes headlines.’