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Fellow Dems Chastise Ocasio-Cortez: ‘She Doesn’t Understand How the Place Works’

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez looks at her phone before a lottery for office assignments on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., November 30, 2018. (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

Veterans of the Democratic establishment, unsettled by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s lack of deference to seniority and party unity, have cautioned the freshman lawmaker to direct her potent social-media attacks toward Republicans rather than centrist Democrats.

“I’m sure Ms. Cortez means well, but there’s almost an outstanding rule: Don’t attack your own people,” Representative Emmanuel Cleaver (D., Mo.) told Politico. “We just don’t need sniping in our Democratic Caucus.”

Since upsetting six-term incumbent Joe Crowley in a primary last summer and winning election to Crowley’s old seat in November, Ocasio-Cortez has used her immense social-media following to chastise fellow Democrats she believes are insufficiently progressive and too beholden to the antiquated establishment. The 29-year-old’s zealous confrontations with more senior lawmakers, which she appears to have dialed back in recent weeks, have drawn the consternation of those concerned about the potential for her to splinter the party.

“I think she needs to give herself an opportunity to know her colleagues and to give herself a sense of the chemistry of the body before passing judgment on anyone or anything,” said Representative Yvette Clarke (D., N.Y.).

“She’s new here, feeling her way around,” said Representative Kurt Schrader (D., Ore.). “She doesn’t understand how the place works yet.”

In responding to the Politico article Friday morning, Ocasio-Cortez quoted a character from the comic book Watchmen to signal her intention to resist the influence of more experienced lawmakers.

Ocasio-Cortez was denied a seat on the influential Ways and Means committee this week despite a public pressure campaign launched by progressive advocacy groups. The former bartender, who joined a climate-change protest in Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office during her freshman congressional orientation, also demanded the creation of a specific committee to further the implementation of a so-called “green new deal,” but was refused that as well.

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