Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez says the Democratic Party is 'in trouble' and, unless it changes direction, is heading for defeat in the November midterm elections.

WHILE PRESIDENT Joe Biden has been thinking aloud about 'regime change' in Russia, his own Democratic Party is facing its own political mini-conflagration. The marked decline in support for President Biden and his administration nationally and in key swing states suggests that the Democratic Party could be facing a serious defeat in the midterm elections. And it would lose control of Congress. 

In October 2020 and shortly before Joe Biden's election in November, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez warned that if a Democratic administration didn't get it right, the political consequences could be devastating.

'If people's lives don't feel different under President Biden, we're done.' she told Vanity Fair magazine. 'You know how many Trumps there are in waiting? I'm tired of incremental change - bullshit little ten percent tax cuts. I think, honestly, a lot of my dissent within the Democratic party comes from my lived experience. It’s not just that we can be better, it’s that we have to be better. We’re not good enough right now.'

Some two years later AOC has gone to the media again to warn that the Democratic Party is 'in trouble'. 

For purely pragmatic reasons, the American left supported Joe Biden's bid for the presidency in order to oust Donald Trump. But there was next to no enthusiasm for the centrist politics that Biden represented and, in return for its support, the left expected Biden to deliver on some of its policies. 

But that largely hasn't happened. AOC has again blamed Biden's centrism for his administration's lacklustre support. 

'We need to acknowledge that this isn't about the middle of the road. This is really about the collapse of support among young people, among the Democratic base, who are feeling that they worked overtime to get this president elected and aren't basically being seen'. 

Last year AOC observed that it was grassroots activism that produced the large turnout in Detroit, Philadelphia and Georgia  and which was crucial to Biden’s win, and if the Democratic Party failed to recognise that and incorporated  grassroot activists, the party would again lose at the ballot box. 

AOC has urged Biden to use his executive powers to issue orders to implement such policies as more environmental protections, lower health care costs and cancel student debt.  

'If the president does pursue and start to govern decisively using executive action and other tools at his disposal. I think we're in the game. But if we decide to just kind of sit back for the rest of the year and not change people's lives - yeah, I do think we're in trouble.'

But Joe Biden is unlikely to take up AOC's call for executive action. There is a sense that Biden thinks his job is done by returning to America to something approaching the status quo that existed before Donald Trump arrived in the White House. AOC is scathing of this backward-looking politics and a celebration of a 'better' America that never existed:

'As a younger member of Congress, the first ever vote I ever cast was for Barack Obama who was called a socialist and all this stuff. All of this rhetoric that we see today has been the political reality my entire life. And so I never felt a nostalgia for something that never existed in my lifetime.'

The growing disillusionment with the Biden administration has also seen AOC catching some of the flak. Although an article in the new issue of Jacobin ultimately comes down on her side, it still speculates whether this is  'the end of the AOC honeymoon'. Elsewhere she has been criticised as being an apologist for the Biden administration but often by groups with an ideological and sectarian axe to grind. 

Given her recent comments these are harsh and unfair criticisms. The difficulty remains for AOC is that she is a socialist in a party that is hostile to her views. There are many Democrats in Congress who would much prefer she wasn't there. They fear a politics that advocates Medicare for all, a Green New Deal, publicly owned banks and the promotion of socialism as a viable alternative to the neoliberal status quo.

Like the New Zealand Labour Party, the Democratic Party has largely become the party of the professional managerial class and represents its interests. That means it has little interest in the working class politics that AOC represents.

But if the Democratic Party does badly in the midterms AOC will be able to say, justifiably, that she was right. But the Democratic Party elite are unlikely to accept that neoliberal capitalism has run out of ideas. It invites the election of another Republican President in 2024.


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