AOC 2024: Will It (and Should It) Happen?

Online stores like Etsy and Redbubble are already flush with unofficial “AOC 2024” merchandise

Online stores like Etsy and Redbubble are already flush with unofficial “AOC 2024” merchandise

Elisha V

Even though America has just barely recovered from the chaotic aftermath of the 2020 election, bettors are already guessing who will run in 2024 – and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is among the top of their list.

 

For many, especially young people, AOC represents a semblance of hope for the future of American politics. Online stores like Etsy and Redbubble are already flush with unofficial “AOC 2024” merchandise, signifying that many wish she will run. 

 

AOC will meet the constitutional presidential age requirement of 35 just a month before November 2024. While she made history as the youngest congresswoman at age 29, Joe Biden recently made history at the other end of the spectrum, being the oldest president at age 78.  In 2018, the average age of House and Senate members were 57.8 and 61.8, respectively.  In all of US history, presidents have been, on average, age 55 on inauguration day. Given these trends continue, AOC is far off from the expected politician age, and her youth is often cited as a reason for why she shouldn’t run for higher office yet. 

 

Electability is not necessarily a function of age, but there are valid arguments as to why her experience or inexperience may be a bigger factor in a presidential race than a House race. Leading a country is no small task, and her couple years of political experience don’t compare to the majority of presidential candidates, who have often held office for decades prior to their candidacy. But one of the many lessons from 2016 is that America was willing to elect a candidate who had no prior experience in politics. AOC objectively has more political experience than Donald Trump did when he ran in 2016, but qualification is certainly up to interpretation. By today’s judgement, we would never consider a candidate without a college degree – but so was the case with George Washington. The standards and expectations for candidates have and are evolving, and whether voters consider a candidate qualified or up to the job is also up to personal biases and prejudices.  

 

While the presidential race may seem too ambitious, running for Senate would be AOC’s next logical step for progressing up the political ladder. However, she would have to defeat incumbent Chuck Schumer, the current Senate Majority Leader. Despite her track record of defeating establishment democrat Joseph Crowley, the then 4th most powerful House Democrat, running against Schumer would be a much more onerous challenge, and New York Democrats are warning her not to try. 

 

Eligibility aside, it would be extremely unlikely that AOC would garner enough support to win a majority – even in deep blue New York. The Democratic party and America as a whole still favors moderates and establishment politicians, as clearly seen when a medley of diverse and young candidates was cast aside in the 2020 primary. AOC has been relentlessly demonized and humiliated by news commentators and politicians alike. She has been called an “idiot wind bag” by Tucker Carlson, “O-socialist-o and O-crazy-o”  by Sean Hannity, and most famously, “Disgusting” and a “F****** B****” by Representative Ted Yoho-in which her response on the House floor went viral-just to name a few of the racist, sexist attacks she has endured. Not to mention the backlash she has faced about her Social Democrat platform, which many confuse or conflate with communism. If America wasn’t ready to nominate Bernie Sanders – who, other than his progressive platform looks like most of the other old white men on Capitol Hill – then it’s very doubtful that a majority would come out to support another Social Democrat, who is also a woman of color, in a nation that is still deeply racist and conservative. 

 

AOC has managed to have a powerful impact on politics and policies despite her relatively low ranking position. By striving for higher office, she runs the risk of losing her current House seat if she were to lose the senatorial or presidential race. As AOC herself said: “I don’t want to aspire to a quote-unquote higher position just for the sake of that title or just for the sake of having a different or higher position. I truly make an assessment to see if I can be more effective,”   While AOC fans may instantly support the idea of her presidential or senatorial candidacy in 2022 or 2024, running – and thus likely losing – would be counterproductive for her political career. She is still incredibly young and has plenty of time to strive for higher office in the future, when more Americans may take a less hostile view of her. In the meantime, her future may entail the Congressional “Squad” growing, being appointed to higher responsibilities on committees, and continuing to lead the progressive movement. AOC 2024 is unlikely, but AOC 2028, 2032, or 2036 may be more realistic and advisable.