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What Makes AOC So Powerful

You could say that now AOC has matured she is becoming more of a creature of Washington and interested in counting votes and opining about how the sausage is made in Congress.

AOC. Image Credit: CNN Screenshot.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, or AOC, being interviewed on CNN.

It’s difficult to believe that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is in her fifth year as a Congresswoman.

It seems like just yesterday she won a David versus Goliath upset over an entrenched and better-known legislative leader.

The loquacious AOC is quick with pithy and pointed quotes in the media and on social networks that capture the progressive point of view.

She is not running for the U.S. Senate in 2024. That is surprising considering her ambition and love of the limelight, so will she continue to be a backbencher with a substantial following or run for higher office at a later date?

She appears to be content with her current position in the House and ability to influence events with that large megaphone – happy to be a burr in the saddle to more conventional Democrats and willing to stick Republicans in the eye every chance she gets.

AOC: How Much Fight Does She Still Have In Her?

As a House Member now in the minority, AOC has less ability to sponsor legislation that could emerge from committee and pass a floor vote. She now must play in the loyal opposition. But that doesn’t mean she is giving up on priorities to fight climate change or her socialist inclination to spend trillions of dollars to make the United States into a left-wing utopia.

Politico caught up with AOC May 19 and she delivered answers in a wide-ranging interview at her Congressional office before leaving for her home district.

On the debt ceiling fight, AOC believes the Democrats have the upper hand because House Republicans are not all on the same page. The ultra-conservative Freedom Caucus is making demands that traditional GOP legislators won’t agree to during negotiations between Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy and President Joe Biden.

Republicans Do Not Have the Votes to Be Unified on Debt Ceiling Strategy

“What is really important, I think, to understand here is that … no matter what, Kevin McCarthy … he needs Democrats to bail him out. This is not a situation of him holding all of the cards. … His party is not united. And not only is it not united by a little … most of the evidence is pointing that he only has two-thirds of his caucus, and he may need many, many Democratic vote,” she said.

The GOP Debt Ceiling Effort Is Really About Power

AOC is skeptical that Republicans are negotiating in good faith and believes they are not really abiding by their bedrock principles of low government spending. She thinks they are more interested in scoring political points with the White House and holding the power to gum up the works in Congress and potentially drive the economy off the cliff with a default on the national debt.

“What this moment is about [is] power. … This is not about debt. This is not about [the] deficit. And that’s evidenced by the fact that they’re trying to even put permitting reform on the table here. This is in no way a substantive conversation from the Republican side. This is about a desire to build, communicate and exert more power than they have,” she said.

Grudging Respect for Trump?

Surprisingly, AOC gave Donald Trump some credit for being able to command support from a wide range of voters. She warns that the last Biden-Trump showdown was actually close, and the electoral college is designed to help insurgent candidates like Trump who can pull close upsets in swing states that allow him to tip the scales in the Electoral College. She is not predicting an easy Biden win.

“I don’t think we should ever be rooting for Trump in any situation. … 2020 was not a blowout. We have to really understand that as long as the Electoral College is in place, these elections are very often decided — sometimes by tens of thousands of votes — in a very small handful of states. … There are a lot of times that I think people overestimate Trump in certain areas. But they still continue to underestimate Trump, I think, in his ability to carry a message and carry a base.”

AOC the Powerful

You could say that now AOC has matured, she is becoming more of a creature of Washington and interested in counting votes and opining about how the sausage is made in Congress.

She still has the hard bomb-throwing socialist edginess, it is just coming with more nuance now. She also understands the national political scene better than when she first started in Congress.

The trick will be squaring her wide-ranging ambition with simply representing her constituents back home.

She wouldn’t want to be accused of being a Washington sell-out and disappointing her left-wing fans in New York and across the country. 

Author Expertise and Experience

Serving as 19FortyFive’s Defense and National Security Editor, Dr. Brent M. Eastwood is the author of Humans, Machines, and Data: Future Trends in Warfare. He is an Emerging Threats expert and former U.S. Army Infantry officer. You can follow him on Twitter @BMEastwood. He holds a Ph.D. in Political Science and Foreign Policy/ International Relations.

Written By

Now serving as 1945s New Defense and National Security Editor, Brent M. Eastwood, PhD, is the author of Humans, Machines, and Data: Future Trends in Warfare. He is an Emerging Threats expert and former U.S. Army Infantry officer.