A word of advice to Joe Biden after Sunday night’s debate: Call AOC.
In the two weeks that have seen Biden take back his position as the front-runner for the Democratic nomination, one voice has emerged as the progressive movement’s beacon of clarity. It’s not Bernie Sanders, who has chosen to remain in the race even though his chances going forward are objectively minuscule. The politician who has shown the most lucid understanding of the importance of Democratic unity in the face of Donald Trump is Sanders’ most obvious successor: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Often mistaken for a dogmatic ideologue, Ocasio-Cortez has astutely recast her role within Sanders’s orbit lately. She has urged the Democratic establishment to begin a conversation with younger Democrats. Rather than dwell on Sanders’ likely defeat, she has already set her sights on obtaining concessions from Biden. She has insisted progressives should “get real commitments on issues” for those demographics, like younger voters and Hispanics, who have overwhelmingly backed Sanders over Biden. While remaining a staunch defender of the progressive agenda and respecting her mentor’s decision to stay in the race at least through the next set of primaries, she has also put some subtle but increasingly relevant distance between Sanders’ quixotic pursuit of power and her own understanding of political mores. In recent days, for example, Ocasio-Cortez has made an eloquent call for inclusivity, touting tolerance and alliances as the path to victory, perhaps delicately hinting at the possible costs of a prolonged primary.