According to Chris Cillizza, CNN editor-at-large, and several politicians, the Democrats might want to hold off on making Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez their next big star. They don’t cite her problem as being un-electable or not having appeal to independent voters or a sordid scandal in her past, they just think that she isn’t ready to be a headliner. Whether their assessment is right or wrong, they present a package of reasons why now might not be her time to shine or shine any brighter than she already is.
Ocasio-Cortez is a Democratic-Socialist, and her upset of 10-term Rep. Joe Crowley was unexpected by analysts, Crowley, and even most of the media that largely ignored her bid. CNN posed the idea that maybe being ignored by the press helped her. No one was really asking her deep think questions, and no one really challenged her on what she believes or knows. She just happened to be some 28-year-old woman running for office against an opponent rumored to be a possible member on the Democrat’s 2020 presidential ticket.
Now she’s standing alone at center stage, and all eyes are upon her. Ocasio- Cortez is getting questions about policy she hasn’t prepared for. Remarks she’s made about international affairs, most notably Palestine, are being challenged, and she is facing tougher questions than she had when running against Crowley. On some topics she shines; on others she struggles. As Cillizza points out, she isn’t the first politician to struggle like this on complex affairs, but the fact that she is struggling should be an indicator that she is not ready to be a headline member of the party.
Her political priorities largely mirror those of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt), whom she was an organizer for during his political bid in 2016. Her platform, as discussed at The Cut, is very appealing to a number of voters, as free college, Medicare for all, a higher minimum wage, abolishing ICE, protecting reproductive rights, and housing as a human right are popular concepts in her district. Her problem with her platform has been cited as being that although she can run on the same platform that Sanders did, she can’t clearly explain how she will make that all happen. Again, she isn’t the first politician to not be able to explain how they will activate their platform, but it is something a party star should be able to do. On MSNBC, Ocasio-Cortez summed up what she ran on.
“Our campaign was focused on just a laser-focused message of economic, social and racial dignity for working-class Americans, especially those in Queens and the Bronx. We were very clear about our message, very clear about our priorities and very clear about the fact that even if you’ve never voted before we are talking to you.”
As was pointed out on The Hill by Florida Rep. Alcee Hastings regarding Ocasio-Cortez, “Meteors fizzle out.” It’s not that one day she can’t be a bright star, but they say that even within the party she has already ruffled feathers based on her tweets that Crowley was going to run against her as an independent even after he stated he would not and had endorsed her candidacy days earlier. Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) chimed in on The Hill as well.
“She’s carrying on and she ain’t gonna make friends that way. Joe conceded, wished her well, said he would support her … so she doesn’t know what the hell she’s talking about.”
Lacy Clay, (D-Mo) added his two cents as well citing a “lack of maturity” and “political acumen.”
Whether the analysis offered by Cillizza, and the criticisms of party members amount to proving Ocasio-Cortez isn’t quite ready for prime-time yet proves true is still months away from being known. Currently, she has been admitting her mistakes and lack of knowledge on topics when that is the case, which is what many of her critics focused on. Whether that translates into being ready to be a star of the Democratic Party and leader of the party’s next generation, only time will tell.