There are key differences between Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), beyond one of them being a leftist who represents New York City, and the other a staunch conservative who comes from rural Georgia.
Not Quite a Mirror Image
For one thing, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez fled from the rioters on January 6, while Rep. Greene cheered those same rioters on, and has spent more than two years calling for them to be freed. For another, while Greene has been embraced by the House Speaker, Kevin McCarthy, Nancy Pelosi often kept AOC at arm’s length when Pelosi was Speaker of the House.
There’s also the matter of the two not liking each other. Greene, at a 2021 rally, denounced Ocasio-Cortez as a “little communist” and called for her imprisonment, while AOC replied that she is actually taller than her Republican counterpart.
Centrists Try to Make Sense of Opposing Images
Nevertheless, there has been a tendency, especially from centrist types, to treat the two Congresswomen like they are mirror images, representing the fringes of the left and right. Axios dubbed the two of them, along with a handful of others, as “mischief makers,” back in 2021. A similar discussion took place on “The View,” around the same time. They have been called “mirror images” numerous times on social media.
But really, that’s nonsense – not to mention a bit sexist – to make such comparisons between two women who are members of Congress.
There is one other huge difference: Rep. Ocasio-Cortez — for as much as her political opponents bash her as a lightweight — does have a rather firm grasp of questions of public policy, in a way that Greene does not. The AOC-sponsored Green New Deal — while it did not come close to achieving passage in the last Congress — was considerably more ambitious than any piece of legislation Greene has ever advanced during her time in the House.
Ocasio-Cortez in Review
Indeed, that’s a key part of understanding the history of AOC’s time in Congress: She has not been embraced by her party’s establishment. Along with the rest of the “Squad,” Ocasio-Cortez was often kept at arm’s length by Nancy Pelosi during her speakership.
“Colleagues and congressional aides said Pelosi saw the New York congresswoman as a talented person but one who was often naïve about how the institution worked and unrealistic about what could be achieved, and how,” Politico reported in 2021 about their relationship. “She feared the Squad’s demands would imperil hard-won Democratic control — the slim majority that had put Democrats in a position to change the country’s course, but not to win every battle.”
In addition, AOC, despite her status at the time as a rising star, was not given a major speaking slot at the Democratic National Convention in 2020 and was not made part of the House leadership, either in the Pelosi or post-Pelosi eras. AOC is not thought to have a close relationship with President Biden, either.
Taylor Greene Has a Different Profile
Contrast that with Greene, who has formed an alliance with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, and is also a key ally of former President Donald Trump. Greene backed McCarthy during his fight to become speaker earlier this year, while most of the House’s bomb-throwing conservatives, like Rep. Matt Gaetz and Rep. Lauren Boebert, were part of the anti-McCarthy faction.
“I will never leave that woman,” McCarthy told a friend, per the New York Times, “I will always take care of her.” The same Times piece reported that McCarthy had studied the tenures of his predecessors John Boehner and Paul Ryan, and concluded that “one of their fatal errors had been unnecessarily isolating far-right members, who in turn made their lives miserable.”
That may say more about the ideological positions of the parties themselves, more than the two Congresswomen. But to describe them as mirror images is self-evidently wrong.
Expertise and Experience:
Stephen Silver is a Senior Editor for 19FortyFive. He is an award-winning journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.