Why Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Poses a Threat to the Democratic Party

Since the 2018 Midterm Elections, a wave of progression seems to have fallen over the Democratic party, energizing millennial voters and further engaging many into politics. The new Democratic freshman congressional class is the most diverse in history. This has brought to the forefront of the Democratic party new and very much younger faces. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has cultivated the following of millions through her ability to relate to younger voters and her extremely active and transparent social media presence. While this momentum is gaining the attention of many, it may not be the sort the Democratic party wants. Cortez has made a point to break as many norms as possible associated with a traditional politician, ranging from wearing bright colored lipstick and hoop earrings at her swearing-in ceremony to openly referring to herself as a radical socialist on a 60-minute segment covering the congresswomen. While the first may be a sign of female advancement, the latter is a rebellion too strong for the fragile state of the democratic party. While empowering younger voters in the 2020 elections is vital, their numbers alone don’t win elections. Democratic leaders need to key in on an older demographic and focus on winning over prior Trump voters in key electoral states. While Cortez being thrust into the limelight may be a powerful message, it is too strong for the moderate front Democrats need to show in order to secure the 2020 election.
Climate change and the ramifications it presents are especially daunting to young voters who will likely be the ones to face the consequences of our inaction today. Alexandria Ocasio- Cortez has attempted to meet the demands of young voters and climate change lobbyists with her proposed “Green New Deal.” This plan appears to be gaining traction among climate activists but simultaneously the full forced criticism of economists and some senior Democrats. The plan essentially claims it will shift the US to entirely renewable energy sources over the course of 12-16 years. At first glance, this sounds like an ideal, almost utopian future. However, there are a few alarming issues with this idea. First, this would be extremely expensive. Democrats are often criticized for expensive legislation; this, however, takes a different form with a predicted cost of roughly $49 trillion dollars. Yet when asked about the expenses of the plan she touts, Cortez understandably evades the question by referring to the amounts we spend on the space force or on military expenditures. These kinds of responses are especially unproductive as it solely feeds into the perception that Democrats would rather prioritize what is morally good than what is economically sound. The problem with this assumption is that they are mutually exclusive, however with regards to this plan they are. Speaking frankly, if I were one of Cortez’s many constituents, I’d be infuriated, as she is wasting their time. The chief problem with extremists on either side of the political spectrum is their unwillingness to work bipartisanly. Regardless of how effectual a policy could be, it must always, in some way, appease the opposition party. Or at the very least be moderate enough to meet the needs of both parties.
Furthermore, Cortez’s careless rhetoric solely fuels the conservative opinion that Democratic policies lack factual standing. Cortez has let the momentum of her sudden political stardom override her preparation and attention to policy and facts. Her political immaturity has led her to make the mistakes of a rookie politician. In response to claims that Trump’s economic prosperity could be illustrated through the low unemployment rate, Cortez claimed that it could be attributed to individuals taking more than one job. This not only illogical but is a statistical falsehood. A more weathered Democrat might have answered with what is true, that this is solely the continuation of the success of the Obama Administration. Incidents like this have repeated themselves, to a tarnishing extent. The harsh reality is that if Cortez will continue to willingly take a leading role in the Democratic party she must represent the party accordingly, a task at which she has dismally failed.
Her persistent misrepresentation of the democratic party calls for Cortez to very swiftly adjust her image or for the 2020 elections to bring a new wave of Democrats willing to advocate policies symbolic of not only progression but of progressive realism–a trait necessary if the party wants to gain the respect it needs to unify the country. The danger with anyone in the freshman congressional class taking a position of leadership in the party is their inexperience and naiveté when it comes to policy. Though Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez may be trying to emulate the gravitas of a prominent leader like Nancy Pelosi she neither has the experience nor practicality to command the respect and power similar leaders have spent years accumulating.