Since primarying incumbent Joe Crowley in an upset win last year, New York representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez hasn't shied away from taking on prominent figures from the Democratic Party's old-guard. Even before she was sworn in, she joined protestors with the environmental group, the Sunshine Movement, in occupying House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office. And she's frequently gone on the record criticizing the politics of her own party.
Take her recent comments on the current Democratic presidential frontrunner in a new New York magazine profile. When asked by writer David Freedlander asked how she’d negotiate her congressional duties under a prospective Biden presidency, she groaned, “Oh, God.” Then continued, saying: “In any other country, Joe Biden and I would not be in the same party, but in America, we are.”
Ocasio-Cortez's straight-forward comments, like many of those highlighting the divide between progressives and more right-leaning Democrats, naturally caused a stir. While universal healthcare is a baseline in many other industrialized countries, many Democrats, including Biden, have not come out in full-throated support of it—a steep divide between the progressive and moderate wings of the party that existed before Ocasio-Cortez was elected. Taking to Twitter, she explained that she was merely noting how the U.S. political system doesn't allow for the kind of multi-party democracies that often form coalition governments in other countries like Canada and New Zealand. For instance, Spain just formed its first coalition government since the 1970s, in which two left-wing parties—one socialist, the other liberal—will govern the country.
She also elaborated that the current Democratic primary field is divided on a multitude of issues, but that doesn't mean she harbors any personal disdain for her more moderate counterparts:
Another tweet from today seems to suggest that Ocasio-Cortez thinks there's generally more tolerance for conservative-leaning politics among the Democratic rank and file, while progressive ideas are often seen as a breach of the party's core ethos. In an apparent reference to Democratic representative Henry Cuellar of Texas, who last year helped a Republican colleague fundraise for a campaign, and Jeff Van Drew, the New Jersey Representative who defected from the Democratic Party to join Republicans late last year, the congresswoman wrote:
Ocasio-Cortez broached this double standard at greater length in the New York Magazine feature. Explaining how in the beginning of her tenure, her congressional colleagues expected her to be a part of a new left-wing tea party. The reality, Ocasio-Cortez told the magazine, is that the power dynamics are a little different than one might expect:
"And what people don’t realize is that there is a tea party of the left, but it’s on the right edges, the most conservative parts of the Democratic Party...I think I have created more room for dissent, and we’re learning to stretch our wings a little bit on the left."
Originally Appeared on GQ