AOC For President? Progressive Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC), the congresswoman for New York’s 14th Congressional District, is asserting more power over her party than ever before. She has the support of not just younger, progressive Democrat voters, but also of two-time presidential primary runner-up Senator Bernie Sanders.
On Monday, Sanders joined AOC in endorsing an ultra-progressive Texas primary challenger of moderate Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar in Texas. 28-year-old Jessica Cisneros will challenge Cuellar for his Congressional seat representing Texas’s 28th District with the full support of the progressive wing of the Democratic Party.
In a speech on Saturday, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez rallied for Cisneros and fellow Texas candidate Greg Casar, and promised, “if we flip Texas, we flip the country.” For a congresswoman who has only served since 2019, AOC is exerting a huge amount of power over her party – and rumors that she may run for the presidency started even before 2020.
AOC 2024: Why She May Run
AOC has big visions for her party, and she has been vocal about it since her candidacy. The New York congresswoman has become the most vocal advocate for progressive issues, from “trans rights” to Universal Basic Income and Critical Race Theory – and she even slammed the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure plan as “not nearly enough.”
Ocasio-Cortez has even hit out at the Biden administration’s handling of the southern border. Despite immediately canceling the construction of former President Donald Trump’s border wall, AOC accused President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris of forcing “undocumented” children into cages.
“As we’ve seen, there are arrivals and undocumented children — rather, unaccompanied children — that have come at the border and this had led to completely inhuman and unacceptable, horrifying conditions of children in CBP (Customs and Border Protection) custody. And it’s unacceptable and it’s horrifying,” she said during a virtual meeting with constituents.
AOC’s 2019 “Green New Deal” also didn’t gain the traction she hoped it would within the party, with President Joe Biden’s infrastructure proposals not going as far as she had hoped.
While the White House included measures in the infrastructure plan that focused on communities that are reportedly hit the hardest by climate change, the New York Congresswoman sees room for improvement and believes she can influence policy even further.
“One thing that I am very excited about is that I do believe that we have been able to influence a lot of thinking on climate and infrastructure,” she said. “As much as I think some parts of the party try to avoid saying ‘Green New Deal’ and really dance around and try to not use that term, ultimately, the framework I think has been adopted.”
AOC and her “Squad” of fellow progressives have a grip over the Democratic Party much like former President Donald Trump has over the Republican Party. With that much power – and with both President Biden and Vice President Harris struggling in the polls – there’s no reason why AOC wouldn’t run.
Is She Eligible?
Section 1 of Article Two of the United States Constitution outlines the requirements for a presidential candidate. Anyone running for the highest office in the land must be a natural-born citizen and be at least 35 years old. The candidate must also have been a resident of the United States for at least 14 years.
Rep. Ocasio-Cortez was born on October 13, 1989. That means she won’t be 35 years old during the majority of a hypothetical 2024 campaign, but she would be 35 years old by Inauguration Day, which will land on January 20, 2025.
Technically, AOC is one hundred percent eligible to run for the presidency in 2024, should she wish to go up against a possible second run from President Joe Biden or even from Vice President Kamala Harris, who was once considered to be the natural successor to president Biden.
AOC vs. the “Moderates”
While AOC exerts a great deal of power over her party, she doesn’t have the full support of everyone in Congress – particularly Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, who she recently described as “obstructionists.”
A presidential run from AOC would not only be likely to bring out more Manchin-esque opposition within the party, but could also be the beginning of a bitter feud with old names from the Democratic Party – including former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
According to a former advisor to President Bill Clinton, Dick Morris, there is a “good chance” that Hillary is planning another presidential run in 2024.
“Hillary has set up a brilliant, brilliant strategy that nobody else is able to do,” he told WABC radio recently.
Clinton is already positioning herself as a potential candidate, too, and has offered Democrats a word of warning over their lurch towards radical progressivism in the run-up to the 2022 midterm elections.
“I think that it is a time for some careful thinking about what wins elections, and not just in deep-blue districts where a Democrat and a liberal Democrat, or so-called progressive Democrat, is going to win,” Clinton told MSNBC in December.
If AOC runs, so too could Hillary Clinton, and it would likely (finally) reveal the deep fractures within their party.
AOC Said She Wouldn’t
For now, we’ll have to take AOC’s word that she isn’t planning on running for president. In 2021, AOC hinted that she may challenge Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer for his New York Senate seat.
She told Dana Bash on CNN at the time that she would rather focus on her “courage at the present moment” than think about running for the presidency. However, that was then and this is now.
If President Biden and Vice President Harris continue to struggle in the polls, there’s no telling what might happen.
Jack Buckby is a British author, counter-extremism researcher, and journalist based in New York. Reporting on the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., he works to analyze and understand left-wing and right-wing radicalization, and report on Western governments’ approaches to the pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and propose pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.