The future of the Democratic Party isn't Nancy Pelosi, it's AOC - Washington Examiner

The future of the Democratic Party isn't Nancy Pelosi, it's AOC - Washington Examiner

Discontentment doesn’t toe any party line.

Republicans learned this the hard way in 2016, when Americans propelled Donald Trump to the GOP nomination in an attempt to oust the out-of-touch establishment. Now, it’s the Democrats’ turn to learn from an upheaval within their own party.

The Democratic Party was reanimated in 2018 when a wave of younger candidates, who lean much further left than their predecessors, entered the House. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., took social media by storm, becoming an overnight phenomenon that gave new energy to socialist policies once considered taboo. Rather than try to fight it, establishment Democrats endorsed her Green New Deal (much to their regret later) because they felt if they didn’t, they would lose the moral high ground on environmental policy.

Some career Democrats even defended freshman Reps. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib when they came under fire for fervent anti-Israel rhetoric. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was one of them. But now Pelosi is being forced to face what these new faces and ideas mean for the Democratic Party she’s known and led for decades.

“All these people have their public whatever and their Twitter world,” Pelosi said, after being asked why Ocasio-Cortez, Omar, Tlaib, and Ayanna Pressley opposed the bipartisan border funding bill. “But they didn’t have any following. They’re four people and that’s how many votes they got.”

Ocasio-Cortez quickly responded: “That public ‘whatever’ is called public sentiment,” she wrote on Twitter. “And wielding the power to shift it is how we actually achieve meaningful change in this country.”

Ocasio-Cortez will refuse to admit it, but Pelosi is right. AOC ran for Congress in a district Democrats can't lose. And she won her primary in part because New York’s 14th District experienced a record-low voter turnout, and her opponent was shockingly tone-deaf and arrogant. Joe Crowley took his re-nomination for granted. But Ocasio-Cortez's win was not a fluke, either. , moving in from a position far to the Left of the Democrats' traditional poorer, nonwhite, and working-class voter bases.

Congress, however, is no Democratic primary. Pelosi, the wily veteran who knows how to make things actually happen, spends her waking nights thinking about how to preserve her majority so that it's still there to legislate when the next Democratic president is elected. That takes more than a large Twitter presence: It takes political prowess. Sometimes that means compromise with the other side of the aisle. Sometimes it means pushing policies that the majority of the Democratic Party can get behind and act on. A majority of congressional Democrats might have voiced their support for Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal, but when it came time to act, not a single Democrat voted for it in the Senate.

There’s a reason Pelosi is one of the most successful congressional Democrats in recent history. But the future of the Democratic Party doesn’t look like Pelosi, it looks like Ocasio-Cortez, and “Medicare for All,” decriminalized illegal immigration, and student loan debt forgiveness. It is a future of impractical ideological fanaticism. These are the policies the new Democrats reintroduced, and they’re the same ones prominent politicians on the presidential primary debate stage have endorsed.

Pelosi, once viewed as a fixture of her party's Left wing, has suddenly become the out-of-touch establishment. She is now the bogeyman who stands in the way of impeachment while the majority of Democratic presidential candidates openly call for it; the backroom-dealing old-timer still willing to meet with Trump and even deal with him. Just a few years ago she was considered a far-left foe. But now, she comes across as a stabling force holding the Democratic Party in somewhat of a central position. This can’t last for long. And it won’t. Just like Republicans did in 2016, Democrats will face a reckoning.

In its race to the Left, Pelosi’s party is moving on without her. Of course, Pelosi will occupy a position of power among Democrats as long as she wants to. There’s a reason former Vice President Joe Biden is still leading in the polls among the other Democratic candidates, and why career Democrats like Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., continue to get reelected. But they’re no longer the ones leading the ideological charge. Ocasio-Cortez is.