(WASHINGTON) — Ready or not, change is coming to the House Democrats.
Across the country, a new generation is making its way to Washington. It’s not just that some of the Democrats, like 28-year-old Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, are young and progressive. They are. Or that many are women entering politics who want to fight President Donald Trump. They do. Or even that some of them live in Trump country.
They also come to politics steeped in an era of resistance and revolt, like the tea party Republicans who rose against President Barack Obama and the so-called Watergate babies elected after President Richard Nixon.
If the newcomers provide the numbers to give Democrats control of the House, or even fall short and end up in the ranks of the minority, they will be a force to be reckoned with upon arrival. That holds especially true for Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., the longtime House Democratic leader.
“There is a hunger for generational change, for a new generation of leadership,” said freshman Rep. Ro Khanna of California. “I think we’re going to see some of the most impressive young people being elected across the country, and it’s going to be, in my view, an extraordinary class, like the Watergate Class.”
Last Tuesday, Ocasio-Cortez pulled off a stunning primary election romp in New York, toppling 10-term congressman Joe Crowley of Queens. He was once thought of as a possible successor to Pelosi, but has now become a symbol of how the party is being transformed in the Trump era.
The defeat of Crowley, the Democratic caucus chairman, opens up the fourth spot on the leadership rung. A robust contest is expected to replace him, but the leadership changes may not stop there.
Several Democratic candidates for Congress have said they would not support Pelosi as leader. And even some of those Democrats who want Pelosi to reclaim the speaker’s gavel, if Democrats retake the majority, have made clear that new approaches are needed.
“I think there was a lack of listening on the ground, a lack of going to the grocery store and saying, ’Hey, how are you doing?’” Ocasio-Cortez said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” She pointed to a Democratic Party at risk of becoming out of touch with its communities. “The messaging isn’t as clear to the communities that we are trying to represent — are we fighting or not?”
Ocasio-Cortez, who says being a Democratic socialist is “a part of what I am, it’s not all of what I am” — declined to say whether she…