Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez angered some Democrats when she appeared to endorse Bernie Sanders at the Democratic National Convention. But her endorsement was a procedural one, and the establishment machine had the last laugh.
In a minute-long appearance at the Democratic National Convention on Tuesday night, the New York congresswoman formally nominated Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders for the presidency of the United States. The nomination was a procedural one, as every candidate who has received more than 300 delegates during primary season must be nominated, and Sanders later transferred his delegates to the party’s actual nominee, Joe Biden.
— Pod Save America (@PodSaveAmerica) August 19, 2020
Still, the optics of the moment were hard to ignore. Ocasio-Cortez is a long-time supporter of Sanders, and previously remarked that “in any other country, Joe Biden and I would not be in the same party.”
Fittingly, her short speech sang the praises of Sanders’ progressive movement, which she said strove to “repair the wounds of racial injustice, colonization, misogyny and homophobia,” among a smattering of social-justice buzzwords and calls for wealth redistribution. She did not mention Joe Biden’s name.
Establishment liberals took this as an insult, and flayed Ocasio-Cortez for her apparent refusal to kowtow to Team Joe. Online, they slated her speech as an example of poor judgement at best, and a gift to Donald Trump at worst.
AOC endorsed Bernie in her DNC speech!!!
Trump needs to send her a thank you note with a signed MAGA hat.
— Tim Young (@TimRunsHisMouth) August 19, 2020
Ummm, hey AOC, Biden is the god damned nominee.
— Ho For Biden (@DKnight10000) August 19, 2020
Regardless of convention rules…BAD MOVE AOC! You showed extremely bad judgement.
— Jim Signorelli (@jimsignorelli) August 19, 2020
Yet optics is all it was. Ocasio-Cortez later clarified that she supported Biden, sending him her “deepest congratulations.” And, while she may have shoehorned an entire platform of progressive demands into her speech, she was afforded only the briefest of soundbites in a multi-day convention. Party bosses passed over Ocasio-Cortez for speakers like Iraq war architect Colin Powell, as well as a bevy of unrecognizable anti-Trump Republicans, like former New Jersey governor Christine Todd Whitman, former New York congresswoman Susan Molinari, and former Ohio governor John Kasich.
Bernie Sanders did speak on Monday, but his address only further cemented the capitulation of progressivism to the Democratic Party’s machine politics. Sanders, who once slammed Biden’s “dysfunctional and cruel” record on healthcare, now said that Biden would “greatly expand healthcare.” Whereas Sanders once accused Biden of supporting “disastrous trade agreements” and a “Wall Street bailout,” he now claimed that the former vice president would “build a nation that is more equitable, more compassionate and more inclusive.”
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Bending to the establishment is something that Ocasio-Cortez has thus far only tasted, and her support for Biden was apparently reluctant. When Sanders dropped out of contention earlier this year, she pledged to support whoever her party nominated, but described joining Team Joe as a “tightrope” between abandoning her progressive values and betraying her party.
Sanders, however, knows what it’s like to be whipped into line. After running a neck-and-neck campaign against Hillary Clinton in 2016 and contending with a party establishment that rigged the nomination process against him, the progressive senator nevertheless bent his knee and supported his establishment rival, declaring that he would “do everything” to make her president.
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