AOC thinks Pelosi and Schumer have got to go, but warns of ‘nefarious’ conservative powers
Democratic Socialist Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) is bluntly stating that the Democratic Party needs new leaders. She wants to give Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer the boot but is also warning that it could create a leadership vacuum in the Democratic Party.
The young progressive said it’s time for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to go but warned of a power vacuum that could be filled by “nefarious forces” who are “even more conservative” than the caucuses’ current leaders during a podcast interview on “The Intercept” that aired Thursday.
“I do think we need new leadership in the Democratic Party,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “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 is now 80 and Schumer is 70. Nancy Pelosi clinched reelection as Speaker of the House in a virtual caucus vote last month despite the Democrats losing seats in the House in the 2020 election. While she did not face any challengers, Pelosi will need to secure a simple majority of 218 Democratic votes by the full House of Representatives in order to hold onto her gavel.
It is widely expected that she will do so. However, the Democrats now hold the House of Representatives with one of the thinnest majorities in decades. She can’t afford to lose more than a few Democratic votes if she is to retain her powerful position. When Pelosi was elected speaker in January 2019, 15 Democrats opposed her.
The elderly leadership in the Democratic House still prevails. Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, 81, and Majority Whip James Clyburn, 80, who have held those positions for more than a decade, ran unopposed and were approved by the caucus to serve in those roles next year. But those such as AOC want new, younger leadership to be put in place.
In the Senate, Schumer easily won reelection with no challengers as well.
Pelosi has indicated that this upcoming term could be her last. Ocasio-Cortez said there are no viable solutions to replace her because the party’s current leaders have concentrated power in leadership “with a lack of real grooming on [the] next generation of leadership.”
“A lot of this is not just about these two personalities, but also about the structural shifts that these two personalities have led in their time in leadership,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “The structural shifts of power in the House, both in process and rule, to concentrate power in party leadership of both parties, frankly, but in Democratic Party leadership to such a degree that an individual member has far less power than they did 30, 40, 50 years ago.”
“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. “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. 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.”
AOC claims the lack of leadership opportunities causes talented newcomers to leave Capitol Hill or to run for statewide office instead.
“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.”
AOC rejected the possibility of running for the position herself anytime soon.
“The House is extraordinarily complex and I’m not ready,” she said. “It can’t be me. I know that I couldn’t do that job.”
D.C. politics is fluid, however, and AOC’s rise in the party’s ranks is all but assured.