Never a good sign when the socialists announce they’re making lists of ideological nonconformists.
But let this stand as further evidence that, for the foreseeable future, Ocasio-Cortez will be much more of a thorn in the side of her own party than she will in the GOP’s.
The dispute that inspired this is the same one Jazz wrote about earlier. House Republicans attached an amendment to the new Democratic gun-control bill requiring ICE to be notified when an illegal immigrant tries to purchase a weapon. To everyone’s surprise, the amendment passed; a bunch of centrist Dems worried about how a no vote might look back in their home districts crossed the aisle to support the GOP. That was a rare humiliation for Pelosi, a legend since the ObamaCare wars for maintaining control of her caucus on tough votes. So she called a huddle and warned the centrists not to do it again — with political muscle provided by America’s favorite open-borders dimwit.
Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), the unquestioned media superstar of the freshman class, upped the ante, admonishing the moderates and indicating she would help liberal activists unseat them in the 2020 election.
Corbin Trent, a spokesman for Ocasio-Cortez, said she told her colleagues that Democrats who side with Republicans “are putting themselves on a list.”
“She said that when activists ask her why she had to vote for a gun safety bill that also further empowers an agency that forcibly injects kids with psychotropic drugs, they’re going to want a list of names and she’s going to give it to them,” Trent said, referring to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
You’d think a party that treats gun violence as a top priority would support a measure that will deter millions of people who live here from trying to buy guns. But no, of course the imperative to limit deportations as completely as possible takes precedence over illegals carrying weapons.
According to WaPo, another Dem freshman, Xochitl Torres Small of New Mexico, replied “sharply” to Ocasio-Cortez by reminding her that not everyone comes from a district with a 29-point Democratic lean. Some Democrats have to worry about the general election too, not just the primary. Small won her seat in November, 51/49, in a district that leans six points Republican; it was the blue wave that carried her to an upset victory, just as it did so many Democrats in purplish districts. Ocasio-Cortez threatening to lead primary challenges against the very people who gave her party a House majority reminds me of righties punishing RINO Mike Castle in Delaware nine years ago by nominating Palinesque populist Christine O’Donnell for Senate instead. Castle was a former governor and nine-term congressman who was favored to win the general election easily over newcomer Chris Coons despite Delaware’s solid blue-state status. As it is, Coons crushed O’Donnell by 17 points. He’ll probably hold his seat as long as he wants to.
I assume Pelosi will eventually pull Ocasio-Cortez aside and explain all of this to her using small words, citing the Castle example and others from the tea-party era (Sharron Angle, Todd Akin, etc) of how a party can fumble away winnable battleground races by insisting too fervently on ideological purity in nominees. In the meantime, though, I’d kill to know how veteran Democrats felt being threatened with primary challenges by a 29-year-old who’s been a member of Congress for less than two months and who’s already caused them headaches by introducing the Green New Deal. AOC must have a squeaky-clean record personally, financially, etc, because if she didn’t it would have already leaked by now, and not because of Republicans. Add to that the visceral jealousy any newbie politician is destined to feel for a colleague who’s receiving orders of magnitude more publicity than they are despite often seeming not terribly bright and Ocasio-Cortez is destined to be backstabbed repeatedly by members of her caucus going forward if/when she screws up. All this new episode does is provide extra motivation.
What we’re seeing with AOC and Ilhan Omar is a two-party system trying to accommodate parliamentary inclinations among a polarizing electorate. Same thing happened with the tea party. Ocasio-Cortez and Omar aren’t traditional Democrats, they’re more like Green Party members who had the basic good sense not to run as that, knowing that American voters approach elections as a binary choice. They’re trying to carve out a Green Party caucus within the Democratic Party just as tea partiers tried to carve out a populist conservative caucus within the center-right GOP. Occasionally, though, ambitions will flare and the new caucus will try to take over the host party via primary challenges. Look no further than AOC herself, who owes her seat to a successful primary of establishment star Joe Crowley. In a parliamentary system she and Omar would be part of the Green Party just as Mark Meadows and Jim Jordan would be party of the … I was going to say “Tea Party” but Meadows and Jordan spend most of their time nowadays covering for Trump, not fighting for smaller government, so let’s call it the “Trump Party.” The question at this moment in American politics is whether the new caucuses on both sides are still minority factions or whether they’d be plurality parties if we had a parliamentary system. Are there more Pelosi-Hoyer Democrats or more AOC-Progressive-Caucus Greens? More Mitch McConnell Republicans or more Meadows-Jordan Trumpers? Until one faction on each side gains a decisive advantage over the other the parties will continue to struggle with these split-personality disputes.
Update: Fake news, says Ocasio-Cortez.
I didn’t say that they were putting themselves on a list for primaries.
I said that by Dems distinguishing themselves by breaking off on procedural MTR votes, they were inadvertently making a list of targets for the GOP and for progressive advocates on their pro-ICE vote.
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) March 1, 2019
That’s a fine theory but it doesn’t explain the exchange with Torres Small that WaPo reported. It also requires you to believe that AOC herself was completely impassive about the prospect of “progressive advocates” targeting Democrats who voted with the GOP on the gun vote. Isn’t her own spokesman quoted above affirming that she’d provide a list of the names of members who sided with Republicans to interested parties? Go figure that some Dems in the room interpreted that as a threat coming from her inasmuch as she’s allied with those same “progressive advocates.”