Leslie Marshall: Are Democratic congressional leaders too old? AOC and Pelosi have very different views

Rob Smith reacts to AOC calling for new Democratic leadership

Turning Point USA spokesperson Rob Smith provides insight on ‘Fox and Friends Weekend.’

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who is 80, was recently asked in an interview on “60 Minutes” on CBS why Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., has complained that Pelosi is not grooming younger House Democrats for leadership positions.

The speaker’s response? “I don’t know. You’ll have to ask her — because we are.”

Pelosi added that Ocasio-Cortez is “very effective as are others — many other members in our caucus that the press doesn’t pay attention to.”


It was a good comeback. It’s also the truth.

AOC is an effective speaker and leader who draws heavy media attention. But she is certainly not ready to fill Pelosi’s shoes.

In a remark guaranteed not to endear her to her party’s House and Senate leaders, AOC said in an interview published in The Intercept last month that “I do think that we need new leadership in the Democratic Party,” adding that “I’m not ready. It can’t be me! I know that I couldn’t do that job.”

Ocasio-Cortez is quite powerful among the most progressive Democrats, but many centrist Democrats say her positions are too far to the left.

House Democrats lost seats in the November election, though still retaining their majority, and some blamed the losses on candidates like AOC who embraced positions too liberal to win support from a majority of voters in moderate and swing districts.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

While AOC’s complaints draw media attention, Pelosi says many House members are being groomed for leadership Pelosi’s comment about other young House members not getting as much attention as AOC is accurate. There have been criticisms about the amount of time Ocasio-Cortez spends on social media and how she elevates her own image and her own name. That criticism does not just come from Republicans.

House Democratic Caucus Chair Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., who is 50, once asked: ‘Do we want to govern, or do we want to be Internet celebrities?”

AOC was the youngest woman ever elected to the House when she won her seat at just 29. Madison Cawthorn, R-N.C., is now the youngest House member at age 25.

AOC is correct that many top congressional leaders are senior citizens.

In addition to the 80-year-old Pelosi, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., is 81.

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer is 70. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell is 78. Assistant Senate Republican leader Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, is 68.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., is a comparative youngster at 55.

Many lower-level leaders have not yet reach senior citizen status.

For example, Rep. Pete Aguilar of California is only 41 and is vice chair of the House Democratic Caucus. Rep. Joe Neguse of Colorado is 36 and is one of the House Democratic Policy and Communications Committee co-chairs. Another co-chair is Rep. Colin Allred of Texas, who is 37.


Rep. Eric Swalwell of California, who is 40, ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020 and is one of the co-chairs of the House Democratic Policy and Steering Committee. Rep. Stephanie Murphy is 42 and is one of the House Democratic chief deputy whips.

Newly elected Sen. Jon Ossoff, D-Ga., is just 33.

Perhaps what AOC was criticizing is that there are not more progressives as far to the left as she is in House leadership. Or maybe she just doesn’t like Pelosi continuing as speaker.


Young people are often impatient to climb the ladder to leadership positions in their careers. But experience is a requirement for many high-level positions in many fields. That’s certainly the case in Congress.

As Pelosi and other aging members of Congress retire in coming years, we’ll see younger members rise to fill top leadership positions. But AOC should be careful what she wishes for. If she stays in the House and is speaker 20 years from now, she may find herself challenged by a younger member — who attacks her for being too old.


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