Speaking to The New York Times on Saturday, Ocasio-Cortez, who convincingly won reelection this week with more than 68% of the vote in New York’s 14th District, criticized leaders and other elements of her party for being distrustful of her and other more progressive members — who, she argued, have been pivotal in winning votes and candidates for the party.
She also accused Democrats of historically forgetting about grassroots movements and activists once elections are over. She said it’s left to be seen whether the Biden administration will behave any differently; but if they don’t, she warned, the party’s future will be bleak.
“I don’t know how open they’ll be,” Ocasio-Cortez told the Times when asked how welcoming she believed Biden would be to more progressive politics. “And it’s not a personal thing. It’s just, the history of the party tends to be that we get really excited about the grassroots to get elected. And then those communities are promptly abandoned right after an election.”
If Biden’s administration follows this pattern, “I’d be bummed, because we’re going to lose,” Ocasio-Cortez said.
“It’s really hard for us to turn out nonvoters when they feel like nothing changes for them. When they feel like people don’t see them, or even acknowledge their turnout,” she added.
Earlier on Saturday, Ocasio-Cortez called out former Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a Republican and Biden ally, on Twitter for saying the “far-left” had threatened Biden’s presidential campaign.
“The Democrats have to make it clear to the far left that they almost cost” Biden the election, Kasich told CNN. “That people in this country are basically center, center right, center left. They’re not far left and they’re also not far right.”
Ocasio-Cortez lambasted Kasich for his remarks and pointed to examples of how more progressive elements of the Democratic Party had helped win critical votes in battleground states like Arizona, Michigan and Georgia.
She added in a follow-up tweet that she and other progressive candidates have, for the past two years, “been unseating powerful Dem incumbents supported by DCCC,” referring to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee — yet no one in the party had ever asked her what weaknesses she saw in the committee’s operation.
“If they stop blaming progressives, we can help,” she said.
Ocasio-Cortez echoed these sentiments in her interview with the Times.
“If the party believes after 94 percent of Detroit went to Biden, after Black organizers just doubled and tripled turnout down in Georgia, after so many people organized Philadelphia, the signal from the Democratic Party is the John Kasichs won us this election? I mean, I can’t even describe how dangerous that is,” she said.
The congresswoman went on to admit that she had almost not run for reelection this year ― in part because of a “lack of support” from the Democratic Party, which she said seemed to perceive her as “the enemy.”
In the end, however, she said she chose to run to “prove that this is real.”
“That this movement was real. That I wasn’t a fluke. That people really want guaranteed health care and that people really want the Democratic Party to fight for them,” she said.