Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) believes that there needs to be new leadership in the Democratic Party and has launched direct attacks at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (N.Y.).
“I do think that we need new leadership in the Democratic Party,” Ocasio-Cortez told The Intercept in an interview published Wednesday. “I think one of the things that I have struggled with—I think that a lot of people struggle with—is [that] the internal dynamics of the House has made it such that there’s very little option for succession.”
Pelosi, 80, is the only candidate for the House Speaker position, facing no challenges in re-election, but she’ll need to grapple 218 Democratic votes to secure her speaker title. Democrats are projected to win around 226 House seats, only allowing Pelosi to afford to lose just eight Democratic votes.
She has, however, indicated that this next term will be her last term as speaker.
Other House Democrats have maintained top leadership positions for more than ten years, like Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (Md.) and Majority Whip James Clyburn (S.C.).
Schumer, 70, also sailed to victory in leading the Senate Democratic Caucus.
“Even conservative members of the party who think Nancy Pelosi is far too liberal for them don't necessarily have any viable alternatives, which is why whenever there's a challenge, it kind of collapses,” Ocasio-Cortez added. “And that is, I think, the result of just many years of power being concentrated in leadership with lack of . . . real grooming of a next generation of leadership.”
Although the freshman congresswoman called on new Democratic leadership, Ocasio-Cortez admitted that “the Left isn’t really making a plan” following Pelosi’s retirement and that "the House is extraordinarily complex and I’m not ready.”
She persisted, “It can’t be me. I know that I couldn’t do that job.”
“The hesitancy that I have is that I want to make sure that if we’re pointing people in a direction, that we have a plan. And my concern—and this I acknowledge as a failing, as something that we need to sort out—is that there isn’t a plan,” Ocasio-Cortez 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.”
Rachel Bucchino is a reporter at the National Interest. Her work has appeared in The Washington Post, U.S. News & World Report and The Hill.