PHILADELPHIA — In the clash between Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, liberal activists at the Netroots Nation convention overwhelmingly sided with the young congresswoman, so much so that they want Mrs. Pelosi to leave Congress altogether.
“She’s going to get left in the dust,” Kristiana Faddoul, a 23-year-old environmental activist from Los Angeles, said of the House speaker. “Is AOC a little radical? Yes, but it’s the urgency that we need.”
Others described Mrs. Pelosi, a longtime representative of a San Francisco district, as out of touch and antagonistic toward a new generation of Democratic leaders. They also agreed with Ms. Ocasio-Cortez’s claim that the speaker is engaging in “explicit singling-out of newly elected women of color” in the Democratic caucus for criticism.
They accused Mrs. Pelosi of deliberately holding back Ms. Ocasio-Cortez of New York and fellow Reps. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan. The four far-left freshmen are collectively known as “the squad.”
The four women collided with Mrs. Pelosi early on when the speaker blocked their push for impeachment proceedings against President Trump. The friction escalated from there.
Mrs. Pelosi once dismissed them by saying they have “their Twitter world but they don’t have any following. They are four people, and that’s how many votes they got.”
Tristan Guyette, 24, a field organizer for an anti-nuclear weapons group, said of Mrs. Pelosi that “she’s against people who don’t look like her, but that’s what America looks like now.”
She also warned that Mrs. Pelosi underestimated the squad.
“The four people she says don’t have much support actually have the support of Generation Z and the millennials. At this point, those generations are very concerned, and they will go out and vote,” she said. “It’s a larger disrespect toward the idea of change.”
Mr. Trump provided a distraction from House Democrats’ infighting when he tweeted Sunday that the four liberal congresswomen should go back to their home countries, which Democrats and some Republicans criticized as a racist trope.
“Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came,” Mr. Trump tweeted. He later vehemently defended his rhetoric as pro-American.
However, it backfired when Mrs. Pelosi joined the accusation that Mr. Trump is racist.
“When @realDonaldTrump tells four American Congresswomen to go back to their countries, he reaffirms his plan to ‘Make America Great Again’ has always been about making America white again,” Mrs. Pelosi tweeted.
It drew a sharp response from Cori Bush, a Missouri congressional candidate and a close ally of the squad.
“Since YOU KNOW this, where are you on impeachment today?” she tweeted at Mrs. Pelosi. “His words will not only affect those four Reps, [but it will also] affect black and brown people across the country in grocery stores, on roadways, at restaurants. We’re at risk for violence you will never understand. Still not enough?”
Ms. Bush ran last year with the help of Justice Democrats, the same far-left group that helped get the squad elected that year and is pushing the Democratic Party in a socialist direction.
“Don’t get mad. Replace her with an ally,” he tweeted. He noted his endorsement by left-wing activists such as Cornel West, Linda Sarsour and Shaun King.
Bob Kall, a liberal commentator and author of the book “The Bottom-Up Revolution,” said the Democratic Party leaders are on the wrong side of a grassroots upheaval that is reshaping American politics.
“The Democratic Party thinks they are the bottom-up party, but they’re not,” he said. “Pelosi is trying to stifle the bottom-up voices of the Democratic Party — the young, fresh voices.”
The same populist forces gave rise to the tea party, he said, but Republicans did a better job of tapping into the movement.
He warned Mrs. Pelosi and others in the Democratic Party establishment not to fight it.
“It’s a wave that’s huge,” he said.
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