There is a political civil war brewing on Capitol Hill, one between the old guard and the new progressive wing of the Democratic Party. The old guard wants to maintain the status quo, never moving too fast to not upset the delicate balance of power. The progressive wing believes the time for caution has passed. To combat the challenges of tomorrow, large-scale change must happen today. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is the leader of the old guard, and progressive wing star Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez thinks Pelosi needs to go.
After running unopposed, Pelosi was unanimously nominated to her 4th term as Speaker. Since House Democrats unexpectedly lost more than a dozen seats in the November election, it’s not certain Pelosi can win the Speaker’s gavel in a House floor vote on Jan. 3. Meaning a handful of Democratic defections could deny Pelosi another term leading the party. This would be an optimal time for the progressive wing to strike, but there isn’t a clear successor to Pelosi.
Although she is a rising star in the Democratic party, Ocasio-Cortez admits she is “not ready [to be Speaker]. It can’t be me. I know that I couldn’t do that job”. Though disenchanted with Pelosi, Ocasio-Cortez hasn’t given any indication that she will vote against the Speaker. Not voting against Pelosi isn’t a show of support; it is the acceptance that there isn’t a viable opponent. Ocasio-Cortez told The Intercept Podcast she thinks “we need new leadership in the Democratic Party…there’s very little option for succession…[with no] real grooming of a next generation of leadership”.
Ocasio-Cortez also believes, “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…and that is, I think, the result of just many years of power being concentrated in leadership”. Though she isn’t ready now, Ocasio-Cortez may just be waiting to play her hand. Many believe Ocasio-Cortez will oppose Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer in the 2022 primary election.
Though she will not share what she has planned, when asked directly, “does Pelosi and Schumer need to go?” she replied, “I think so.”