Harrop: Time for Democrats to primary AOC
Hakeem Jeffries seems poised to replace Nancy Pelosi as leader of the House Democrats. A Black political moderate, the Brooklyn congressman is often likened to Barack Obama. Even-tempered, he is known to “play” with most of the children in Washington. And at 52, he represents generational change from the 82-year-old Pelosi.
Who among Democrats would have a problem with him? Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez would have a problem. She also has problems with President Joe Biden and, frankly, the mainstream Democratic Party off which she feeds. A preening socialist princess, she has done much to entertain Fox News and cost the Democrats their House majority.
“The last time I ran into AOC,” said Sean Patrick Maloney, one of four Democrats to lose his suburban New York district to a Republican, “we were beating her endorsed candidate two to one in a primary, and I didn’t see her one minute of these midterms helping our House majority.”
Ocasio-Cortez has a long record of pushing primary challenges to Democrats deemed insufficiently radical. These attempts are almost always unsuccessful though draining to the incumbent. Shortly after she was first elected to Congress in 2018, Ocasio-Cortez reportedly put Jeffries on her list of Democrats to get rid of.
She didn’t follow through, but the threat prompted Jeffries to help start a group called Team Blue, which raised money for Democrats being challenged from the left. The time has come for Team Blue to turn the threats around and support good progressives willing to primary the homewreckers of the left fringe.
They might also consider Pramila Jayapal, another pain in the Democrats’ butt. Right before the midterms, the Seattle-area rep led a left-wing bid to join the right wing in questioning American support of Ukraine. She presented that proposal just as Ukraine was winning back territory while its people were being terrorized by Russian missiles. So appalled was the Biden administration and other Democrats that the group quickly withdrew their letter.
To Ocasio-Cortez, Biden exists to be “critiqued.” Days after he was elected president — and still putting together a muscular program to deal with climate change — Ocasio-Cortez sent out a letter accusing him of ignoring the problem and asking for money.
She has refused to say whether she would endorse Biden if he ran for a second term. Even Rep. Ilhan Omar, the controversial “Squad” member from Minnesota, said “of course” she would.
Ocasio-Cortez incensed many of her constituents by voting against the infrastructure bill, the Democrats’ greatest achievement. She’s against bringing back the deduction for state and local taxes, in effect, supporting the Republican move to punish high-tax blue states, like her own.
New York Mayor Eric Adams is in constant battle with her. For one thing, he’s long opposed New York state’s controversial bail law, credited with the loss of those suburban seats. Naturally, Ocasio-Cortez defends it and hits back by accusing Adams of exaggerating crime. Like Jayapal, she had played around with “defund the police” nonsense.
It’s true that crime is nowhere near the epidemic levels of several decades ago. It’s also true that a few gruesome crimes, looped by Fox and the New York Post, had freaked out voters. To win elections, you have to address the electorate’s concerns. Right?
That’s assuming you want to win elections. Jeffries and Adams are pragmatic and popular politicians. They know what their working-class voters want while winning fans among diverse populations.
Asked about the Jeffries’ likely ascension to minority leader, Ocasio-Cortez would not give a straight answer. She did say, however, that there was “healing that needs to be done in our caucus.”
Not quite. Ocasio-Cortez and company stand in the way of Democrats’ retaining real power. They don’t merit healing. They deserve replacement.
Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.