As hard as it may be to imagine, evidence abounds that firebrand freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is moving away from the radicalism that made her famous.
Rep. Ocasio-Cortez, better known as AOC, has refused to back most of the primary challengers that the Justice Democrats have put forth to challenge fellow Democrats in congressional primary elections for this year’s election. In 2018, she publicly called for progressives to rise up and challenge incumbent Democrat politicians.
The New York bartender-turned-lawmaker has replaced some far-left firebrands in her office with the sort of traditional political experts that one would expect to see in the employ of a moderate politician. She has even gone so far as to criticize some of Sen. Bernie Sanders’ supporters for harassing others online, and publicly wondered if Sen. Sanders has made a mistake in not being more conciliatory to the moderate wing of the party.
The shift isn’t a sudden one; it’s been taking place over the last few months even though it has been overshadowed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Even so, AOC’s clear shift to the center has disillusioned many of her supporters who say that she has been co-opted by the system. Others, however, are continuing to support the freshman congresswoman, stating that her compromises are making it possible for the left to not only gain power but also hold on to it.
The latter sentiment is not entirely unfounded, as Democrat voters around the nation made it clear in early March that they weren’t ready for Sen. Bernie Sanders’ far-left agenda. Even so, it’s hard not to get the feeling that AOC is far more concerned about her political future than an agenda that she once enthusiastically championed. New York is poised to lose one or two congressional seats after the 2020 census, and pundits predicted last month that the Democrats who control the redistricting process could very well remove AOC’s district, which means that she wouldn’t have the incumbent advantage in running for re-election. She would either have to call it quits, or try to wrest a congressional seat from another Democrat opponent in an upcoming primary election.
It should be noted that AOC hasn’t decisively moved to the center of her party. She made waves in January 2020 when she announced that she would not pay dues to the DCCC fundraising arm, and she hasn’t publicly reversed her stance. What’s more, she did play a role in trying to help two insurgent Democrats win congressional seats belonging to moderate Democrat incumbents. However, it’s clear to see that AOC is taking her political future into account. Radicalism might get people her own age to the polls, but that’s about it.
In other words, AOC is playing politics just like everyone else she works with. That didn’t take long, did it?