Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D., N.Y.) on Sunday dismissed concerns among some members of her party that the label of “socialist” hurt House Democrats who lost their reelection bids this week.
In a leaked conference call between congressional Democrats on Thursday, Representative Abigail Spanberger of Virginia warned that the party must never use the words “socialist” or “socialism” again, saying that “we lost good members because of that” and predicting that Democrats will get “torn apart” during the next midterm elections otherwise.
“Why is she wrong?” host Jake Tapper asked Ocasio-Cortez Sunday on CNN.
The New York progressive responded that Republicans launched “very effective rhetorical attacks” against Democrats this election cycle but insisted that socialism was not on the ballot.
“But I think one of the things that is very important is to realize that very effective Republican attacks are going to happen every cycle, and so the question is how do we defend ourselves against that?” Ocasio-Cortez said.
“If you look at some of the arguments that are being advanced, that ‘Defund the Police’ hurt or that arguments about socialism hurt, not a single member of Congress that I’m aware of campaigned on socialism or defunding the police in this general election,” she continued, saying such language came in the form of “slogans” or “demands” from progressive activist groups.
Democrats lost seats but retained a slim majority in the House. The party also failed to wrest control of the Senate as two Senate races in Georgia head toward run-off elections that will determine which party controls the upper chamber.
The question now, she said, is “how can we build a more effective Democratic operation that is stronger and more resilient to Republican attacks,” adding that she sees “many areas that we can point at in centralized Democratic operations that are extraordinarily weak,” such as the party’s digital campaigning, an area where Republicans are “quite strong.”
“The Democratic party is still campaigning largely as if it’s still 2005,” she charged.
The 31-year-old first-term congresswoman, who has described herself as a “democratic socialist,” said there are “very deep divisions” within the party at least in the House caucus, and that with a slimmer majority it will be more important to unify against Republicans.