Nancy Pelosi is stepping down as House Speaker – could she pass the baton to AOC?
Nancy Pelosi is stepping down as House Speaker – could she pass the baton to AOC? Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Nancy Pelosi is stepping down as House Speaker – could she pass the baton to AOC?


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Veteran politician and the first female Speaker of the House of Representatives for two decades, Nancy Pelosi, announced earlier today, Nov. 17, that she is stepping down from her role and will not seek re-election in the next Congress as Republicans take control. The remarkable politician with a career spanning nearly half a century will no longer be the face of the Chamber’s Democrats in the New Year. 

“For me the hour has come for a new generation to lead the Democratic caucus that I so deeply respect,” Pelosi said on the House floor Thursday. 

With this announcement, change is imminent. For Democrats and politics as a whole, the next Speaker of the House should be someone who has the ability, personality, popularity, and charisma to lead the party to the next level. It should be up to them to lead and inspire a new generation of young voters, the same way Speaker Pelosi did for 50 years. 

There are a few names being thrown against the wall such as New York Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, Katherine Clark of Massachusetts, and Pete Aguilar of California, who are expected to seek the top three spots among House Democrats. 

Apart from them, there is another New York representative, who, like Pelosi has paved the way for young women, prospective politicians, and voters that is at the right age and stage in their career to lead a new generation of Democrats and a new wave of young voters to come out and get them politically engaged – Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, better known as AOC. 

Apart from former and current world leaders, AOC is one of the most followed politicians in the world with a combined near 15 million followers on Twitter and Instagram, and arguably one of the more popular and controversial ones because of her large presence. 

And like Speaker Pelosi, AOC has had huge wins for a 33-year old woman politician who has been in the game for just over five years. 

AOC burst onto the scene and made quite the introduction. She defeated 10-term incumbent Democratic Caucus Chair Joe Crowley back in the 2018 midterm election primaries in what was and has since been considered the biggest upset victory in those midterms. She then went on to comfortably beat Republican Anthony Pappas in that November general election, and become the youngest woman to ever serve in Congress. 

She then took on and defeated John Cummings for re-election in the 2020 cycle by a landslide. 

Unlike many of her fellow Democratic members of Congress, she uses social media to remain in constant contact with her followers, keeping her in touch with a new generation of voters that are always online and set to take over. 

AOC alongside Rashida Tlaib, are also the first female members of the Democratic Socialists of America elected to serve in Congress. Ocasio-Cortez runs on a very Democratic and progressive platform that includes fighting for workplace democracy, Medicare for All, tuition-free public college, climate change, and abolishing the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

She was an activist in her youth and worked as a waitress and bartender before choosing to run for Congress in 2018. And having grown up in the Bronx, New York to a Puerto Rican family, she represents a part of the American population that the U.S. government has long neglected with its policies or lack thereof. She also represents the true nature of America’s great diversity, a diversity that would allow her to bring a different voice and viewpoint to the House floor. 

AOC is someone people have suggested could even run for President in 2024 if she wanted to. 

She will be 35 by that time and with her growing social media and celebrity-like popularity and presence, she could very easily rack up the millions of dollars needed to run a successful presidential campaign. 

The only factors holding that possibility back would be her youth, and the fact that she is not totally popular with older voters, nevermind Republicans, and a huge swath of the electorate. Perhaps that unpopularity and hate does not matter when it comes to being a successful House Speaker or President. Pelosi, even former President Donald Trump had large swaths of popularity and hate, and both held top positions. 

AOC has also been very outspoken against her own party leadership in D.C., even the President himself. She has described them as too comfortable in their positions with rich, powerful self-driven interests who are neglectful of the needs of their own voters. 

An Economist-YouGov poll revealed her favorability ratings this past early May, that found her popular with young voters, but very unpopular among independent voters and the GOP. 

But if the 2022 midterm elections were any indication, the youth came out to vote in droves and were the major reason for denying the GOP their red wave and giving Democrats huge wins in battleground states like Arizona and Pennsylvania. 

Even while the GOP has taken control of the House, they couldn’t take Senate control and only won the House by a small margin, which should point to the reality that the GOP and Democratic establishments are aging and losing touch with the new crop of voters. 

With fresh young members in Congress coming in the new year such as Maxwell Alejandro Frost, Jasmine Crockett, and Greg Casar, the country is seeing the changing of the guard before its very eyes slowly, and who better to lead that than someone who kickstarted the youth movement in Congress and became its face on the Democratic side?

To be a House Speaker, you have to be strong-willed, heavy handed, impervious to the outside hate, and like Pelosi — have the ability to measure support and be able to persuade members to support your priorities — traits AOC could flesh out on the House Floor, or in the Oval Office. 

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