Some testy exchanges are taking place in public. Claire McCaskill, the former senator from Missouri, said on MSNBC that cultural issues such as abortion and guns had helped Republicans. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the socialist congresswoman from Queens, shot back on Twitter that McCaskill had lost her election in 2018 and so nobody should listen to her.
McCaskill managed to hold a Senate seat for 12 years for the Democrats in a state that has been turning more and more Republican. Her audacious intervention in the Republican primary in 2012 helped her hold a seat she had been expected to lose. Ocasio-Cortez, meanwhile, represents a district where 77% of the voters went for Hillary Clinton in 2016. If you had to pick one of them for advice on how to expand the Democrats’ appeal in parts of the country where it’s struggling, of course it ought to be McCaskill.
Ocasio-Cortez’s misreading of her record is of a piece, though, with a larger tendency among progressives to misunderstand the last few years. They thought Senator Bernie Sanders did as well as he did against Clinton in the 2016 Democratic primaries because socialism was on the march. It has gotten ever clearer that what fueled his campaign was not being her. Ocasio-Cortez and her squad of self-proclaimed socialists got the headlines in 2018, but moderate Democrats won the elections that got the Democrats their House majority.