Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez might be Republicans’ least-favorite Democrat, but at least she’s honest about Democrats’ failures in the 2020 election. The New York congresswoman confided her frustration to The New York Times over the weekend, and it’s clear the election results have left her in the dumps.
Other New York leftists took to the streets to engage in mass revelry about President Donald Trump’s reported defeat, but AOC doesn’t seem to feel like celebrating. As far as Ocasio-Cortez is concerned, 2020 will go down as a historic defeat for democratic socialism, and it’s a toss-up whether the congresswoman will mount a primary challenge to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer in 2022 or simply walk away from the political establishment and “start a homestead somewhere.”
Amid the media’s merriment in prematurely declaring a Trump defeat, many have obscured a fact that AOC has realized: Democrats performed dismally in congressional elections this year, resulting in dim prospects that any part of her radical agenda will be enacted in the coming Congress.
So long as Republicans retain their Senate majority, their fears of a Biden presidency and a Democrat-controlled Congress transforming America won’t be realized. Furthermore, a Republican Senate would relieve Joe Biden of any obligation to listen to the radicals who loyally backed him despite their misgivings about what they might achieve should he be elected.
If Democrats Win in Georgia…
The last variable in the 2020 puzzle will be resolved on Jan. 5 during runoff elections for Georgia’s two U.S. Senate seats. Between now and then, Georgia will become the center of the political world. Democrats are probably rated underdogs in both contests, but they still have a chance to win either, and the stakes couldn’t be higher. If Democrats succeed, that would create a 50-50 tie in the Senate that would be resolved in favor of the Democrats if Kamala Harris gets sworn in as vice president.
A Democratic Senate majority is a nightmare scenario for conservatives. Should that occur, there’s little doubt Democrats there will blow up the institution and the Constitution.
Given such an opportunity, Democrats have said they would end the filibuster for legislation and pack the Supreme Court with an extra four leftist justices to outvote the current 6-3 conservative majority that Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell created. They’d also likely try to grant statehood to the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and even the U.S. Virgin Islands to add more senators, who would almost certainly be Democrats, to establish a possibly permanent leftist majority.
Democrats would also be in a position to pass radical legislation including AOC’s pet project, the Green New Deal, an agenda of environmental extremism that would sink an economy reeling from COVID-19 shutdowns in a morass of debt and rationed energy. If so, then AOC and her leftist Squad, not to mention Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, will have the whip over Biden. Any reluctance to radicalism on his part would probably be swept aside by the zeal of crusading left-wingers who would likely carry the increasingly belligerent Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi with them.
It’s more likely, however, that a GOP campaign fueled by a desperate effort to preserve constitutional government against the radicals will succeed in pushing either David Perdue or Kelly Loeffler or both over the finish line to keep McConnell in the majority leader’s seat. If that happens, Ocasio-Cortez and company will get nothing out of the next Congress except more frustration and anger. As AOC’s Times interview made clear, she is painfully aware of what lies ahead for the left in a Biden presidency without Democratic control of Congress.
The AOC Schtick Doesn’t Work Everywhere
Democrats have maintained a facade of unity all year over mutual disdain for Trump, but their failure to increase their numbers in the House, as Republicans flipped several seats rather than suffering massive losses as leftist pollsters predicted, has exposed a growing rift in their ranks.
Pelosi won back the speaker’s chair in 2018 by virtue of her party nominating moderates in swing districts throughout the country that flipped red seats blue. In 2020, however, with Trump’s presence at the top of the ticket mobilizing high GOP turnout in such districts, many of those moderate Democrats lost.
As far as Rep. Conor Lamb, D-Pa. — the poster child for centrist Democrats who barely held on to his seat this year — is concerned, his party suffered because of AOC and the radicals. Despite Biden’s win, most of these Democrats had to answer questions about whether they shared the Squad’s convictions about defunding the police, critical race theory, and massive spending programs.
AOC would say the moderates are losers who don’t know how to run a modern campaign and that they have problems because they are a lite version of the GOP rather than a clear alternative. But like other Squad members, AOC runs in a deep blue district where her only possible competition would be in a primary.
Since control of the House rests on the Democrats’ ability to convince voters that they have nothing to do with avowed socialists like Ocasio-Cortez, her advice means little to Lamb or other centrists such as Rep. Abigail Spanberger, D-Va., who also said on a party conference call, “We need to not ever use the word ‘socialist’ or ‘socialism’ ever again. … We lost good members because of that. If we are classifying Tuesday as a success … we will get f-cking torn apart in 2022.”
The Left Is the Biggest Loser of 2020
Despite their bouts of pandering to the radicals, it’s likely that Schumer, Pelosi, and Biden are more interested in the opinions of Lamb and Spanberger than that of AOC. They know that a GOP with a strong populist working-class base will be in a position to win back the House in 2022 while holding its ground in the Senate if, as is usually the case, the party out of power capitalizes on disenchantment with the incumbent president.
That leaves little room for Ocasio-Cortez and the other radicals to accomplish much in the coming years. With nothing to lose, it’s likely that the Squad and its allies will cease cooperating with the moderates and push even harder against them on key issues. The party base wants a revolution, but its leaders just want to hold on to power. That’s a formula not just for internecine strife but for a party implosion that will further weaken Biden and the Democrats’ congressional leaders.
As for those who expect AOC to go homesteading rather than keep her congressional seat or challenge Schumer in 2022, don’t bet on it. Unlike the Democrats’ leaders, she’s not interested in building a moderate majority. Though she and her fellow radicals held their noses for Biden in order to beat Trump, she’d rather a schism than to compromise on her socialist goals now that a radical legislative agenda is probably not on the table yet.
While Democrats are dancing in the streets about their belief that Trump is defeated, the future for their party might be one of strife and losing further ground during a Biden presidency. The far left might turn out to be the biggest loser of 2020. One thing is certain: Their influence will grow inside party ranks even if their policy goals remain pipe dreams. That’s a formula not only for a more radical Democratic Party but also for more general election defeats.