That Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and other progressives actually inspire people and push the nation to the left really bothers generations of Democratic lawmakers, to the point that they want to marginalize and punish them and make sure that the nation stays nice and right-centrist.
Deliberations over the next several days will be extremely important for progressives in the House, as they angle to lock down seats on these powerful committees for their members. To that end, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) was expected to secure a prized position on the Energy and Commerce Committee, a seat vacated by outgoing New Yorker Eliot Engel. Among other issues, the committee has jurisdiction over health care and climate change issues, a natural for a congresswoman who has championed Medicare for All and the Green New Deal.
Ocasio-Cortez was expected to cruise comfortably to the position. She was the first to raise her hand for the seat, and she won the backing of dean of the New York delegation Rep. Jerry Nadler. But last week, as Politico reported, Long Islander Kathleen Rice made an out-of-nowhere, last-second bid for the seat, interrupting the process. Rep. Rice is a backbencher from the party’s right flank who, in 2018, refused to support Nancy Pelosi for Speaker. Without the support of Nadler, and with the famous opposition of Steering Committee leader Pelosi, Rice’s attempt didn’t seem to be serious.
But in a surprise, last-second Steering Committee meeting on exclusive committee assignments Thursday, which was scheduled at 10 p.m. the night before, centrist Democrats put on a show of support for Rice and against AOC, in what looks to have been a process-defying attempt to keep AOC out of the seat. Fellow New York Rep. Hakeem Jeffries came out in support of Rice, contra Nadler, as did Reps. Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Diana DeGette (D-CO), and Stephanie Murphy (D-FL).
Most vocal in his opposition to Ocasio-Cortez’s candidacy was Texas’s Henry Cuellar, the caucus’s most conservative member. After Ocasio-Cortez was nominated and seconded, Cuellar opposed, commenting: “I’m taking into account who pays their dues and who doesn’t work against other members whether in primaries or in other contexts,” according to a source with knowledge of the meeting. After Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) called for a vote on the two candidates came an unusual outcome: Rice crushed AOC 46-13.
And let’s be clear here–the caucus didn’t just choose some random Democrat instead of AOC. It chose one of the worst members of their caucus, someone who, for all the crap that AOC gets about opposing other Democrats, actually has opposed Nancy Pelosi for Speaker. It’s incredibly distressing. AOC is not only inspiring and actually makes young people want to vote for Democrats, but she is an excellent congresswoman, someone who asks incredibly detailed and probing questions in committees, almost to the extent of the much beloved Katie Porter.
It’s like Democrats see the success of the Republican Party and are so appalled by it that they can’t even learn the effective measures that can come of it. Instead, they’d rather discipline and punish the left in search of mythical centrist voters.
Sometimes, the far left critique of the Democratic Party is accurate.