AOC Says Pelosi, Schumer Need to Go, but the Democratic Party Isn’t Ready for That

December 16, 2020 Updated: December 16, 2020

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) said she believes it’s time for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) to step aside, but there’s no one ready to replace them.

Ocasio-Cortez, who has recently won reelection for her House seat, said during an interview with The Intercept that the Democratic Party needs a new leadership.

“I think one of the things that I have struggled with, I think that a lot of people struggle with, is the internal dynamics of the House has made it such that there [are] very little options [sic] for succession,” Ocasio-Cortez told The Intercept, adding that the lack of opportunities pushes the “really talented members” to leave Washington or run for non-congressional offices.

Schumer, 70, was reelected as leader of the Senate Democrats last month. Pelosi, 80, won the party’s nomination to run for speaker in a virtual vote, although she still needs to be elected on the House floor in January. In order to maintain her position, Pelosi needs to secure a simple majority of 218 votes. The Democrats, despite losing seats in this year’s election in which they were expected to expand their advantage, managed to control 222 seats in the House.

“A lot of this is not just about these two personalities but also about the structural shifts that these two personalities have led in their time in leadership,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “The structural shifts of power in the House, both in process and rule, to concentrate power in party leadership of both parties, frankly, but in Democratic Party leadership to such a degree that an individual member has far less power than they did 30, 40, 50 years ago.”

In 2018, Pelosi announced that she had agreed to step down as top Democrat in the House by 2022 in a deal to secure the votes she needed to become speaker of the House the next year.

“I made it clear that I see myself as a bridge to the next generation of leaders, a recognition of my continuing responsibility to mentor and advance new Members into positions of power and responsibility in the House Democratic Caucus,” Pelosi said at that time.

According to Ocasio-Cortez, the left “isn’t really making a plan” even if Pelosi and Schumer end their terms, because the party’s current leaders have concentrated power with a lack of “real grooming on next generation of leadership.”

Ocasio-Cortez also admitted she isn’t ready for running for speaker, a position she describes as “extraordinarily complex.” “It can’t be me,” she said. “I know that I couldn’t do that job.”