Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: 'Saltine Cracker' Centrism Won't Win Elections

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez stopped by Pod Save America this week to discuss her unexpected candidacy, democratic socialism, President Trump, and the Democratic Party’s incredibly self-defeating approach to voter outreach.


The New York congressional candidate repeated a point she’s been making a lot lately, which is that the real “swing” voters the Democrats need to focus on are non-voters to voters, rather than those who oscillate between Republican and Democrat.

“[The political establishment] thinks that running to the center, moderating our policies, being as close to a Saltine cracker as possible is what’s going to make us win elections... and I don’t think that that’s the case,” she said. “I think what animates non-voters is feeling like someone is really fighting for them.”

“Not just saying ‘we care about education, health care, and housing,’ but ‘we believe in single payer healthcare,’” she continued. “In order to turn out non-voters we need to be really explicit in how we are fighting for them.”

She also addressed how conservatives have long dominated the political narrative and the ways that establishment Democrats started buy into conservative talking points:

There’s this really myopic and just...misunderstanding of politics as this flat, two-dimensional, left-right thing. So they always feel like, ‘Okay, the right says this thing, we have to respond to it!’ That’s why [the right is] winning. That’s why they’ve won for the last ten years; because they’ve dragged us onto their court. And we’ve refused to have our own strong message to force them to play defense on.

Makes sense if you ask me! Check out the rest of the interview here.

Staff writer, mint chocolate hater.


Ashley Reese

Some other choice quotes from the video (which is honestly worth watching in its entirety). Apologies in advance for any typos:

We need to start reframing our issues instead of left and right to top and down. It’s not about ‘oh, i have to weather my message to republicans.’ There are people who want to feel like there’s an unapologetic working class champion for them.

And after some Joe Manchin talk:

The whole country is further left than Congress. The whole country. And this is in poll, after poll, after poll. Eighty percent of Americans believe in responsible gun legislations. Sixty percent of Americans believe in a single payer health system. The overwhelming majority of Americans believe in a living wage. The electorate is way further left than Congress. And, you know, we have low voter turn out and I’m just...amazed sometimes when I speak to either incumbents or when I speak to people in the party and they act as though they don’t exist. Like, they act as though it’s harder to get someone who doesn’t vote to vote than to get a Republican to vote for a Democrat! Good luck with that one!

On Dems and centrism:

I won this one race and you would’ve thought that we took over half of the Democratic Party. They’re like, “The party has moved way to far to the left!” It’s one seat out of almost 200.

Sixty percent of Americans believe in single payer healthcare. Seventy-four percent of Democrats in this country believe in single payer healthcare. So...campaign on it!

And on the future of the Dem party:

We have not had a party that has been investing in its own future. We have people who are constantly fundraising for their own re-election. The average age of a House Democrat right now is 65-years-old. We’re at the oldest point of American history, and not only are people feverishly working on their own re-election for their second or sometimes third decade, but there’s no investment in future leadership. We’re putting all of this money into state parties, and those state parties aren’t working on aggressively investing in young people running in state assembly seats, state house seats, so that they can later go on to Congress. That is not happening. It’s certainly happening on the right, but it’s not happening on the left.

She also talks about postal banking toward the end which, awesome, because frankly fuck payday lenders and check cashing joints.