A leftover from yesterday that I missed amid the latest round of coronavirus madness. She said a few days ago that “I will be supporting the Democratic nominee in November,” but her enthusiasm had been … restrained, let us say. In that same interview she made a point of saying that party unity is a “process” and that it “should be uncomfortable for everyone involved,” starting with Joe Biden. A day later she allowed that Tara Reade’s sexual assault allegations against Biden are absolutely fair game, which is correct. If she was supporting Biden, she was clearly supporting him reluctantly.
But check her out in the clip below from “The View” yesterday morning. She doesn’t seem as reluctant. Backing Biden is clearly a lesser-of-two-evils thing for her but she was more urgent here in saying it’s “really important” that we — which means you, DSAers — get behind him. Maybe she’s following Bernie’s lead? He’s sounded pretty urgent lately as well:
Sanders said his supporters have a simple choice now that Biden has emerged as the presumptive nominee: “Do we be as active as we can in electing Joe Biden and doing everything we can to move Joe and his campaign in a more progressive direction? Or do we choose to sit it out and allow the most dangerous president in modern American history to get reelected?”
He continued: “I believe that it’s irresponsible for anybody to say, ‘Well, I disagree with Joe Biden — I disagree with Joe Biden! — and therefore I’m not going to be involved.’”
In an alternate universe, Hillary ran in 2020 and won the nomination again and now Sanders and AOC are having to weigh backing her or sitting it out and enabling a second Trump term. I think their loathing of Trump would lead them to endorse even Clinton very reluctantly, but they don’t need to be as reluctant with Biden. He’s far more personally likable and enjoys some working-class appeal that Hillary never did. He doesn’t trigger their gag reflex as much as she does.
But there’s another reason why AOC may be coming around all of a sudden. Biden’s willing to play ball:
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) told Politico Playbook on Wednesday that her team and former Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign are having “policy conversations,” and a source familiar told Axios that AOC and Biden have not yet spoken directly…
Another source familiar with the conversation disputed the characterization that it was a policy discussion and described it instead as “opening the lines of communication.”…
The progressive congresswoman told Politico that Biden, as the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, needs to “clarify and deepen his policy stances on certain issues, like health care and climate change.
Last week, Biden rolled out two new policies that incorporate part of Sanders’ agenda into his own platform: A plan to lower the Medicare age to 60 and forgiving student debt for low-income and middle-class individuals.
Ocasio-Cortez may be a newbie politician but she understands that her influence is worth something in terms of policy concessions. The Squad has a reputation for uncompromising radical dogmatism in its floor votes in the House, but AOC isn’t above trading endorsements for policy influence.
I continue to wonder, though, how Biden’s going to use her on the trail — if in fact she’s willing to stump for him. Arguably she does him more harm than good, as Republicans want to run on a message that Democrats are socialist fanatics. That task got harder once Biden surged back after South Carolina to beat Bernie. It’ll get easier if they can highlight photos of Joe with Sanders and AOC as proof that he’s been captured by the left. I think he’ll probably keep her off the trail for that reason. He needs her as an envoy to the left, not as an envoy to swing voters. She can serve that function doing interviews and cable news appearances and appearing on Chapo Trap House and Anitfa Radio or whatever the DSA people listen to.
Personally, I think Biden probably won her over when he accused some in Trump’s base of thinking all Mexicans are rapists. I guess we’re going to have a “deplorables” moment in every presidential election cycle going from now on.