Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said that she “absolutely” has felt her life is in danger since joining Congress, with her head always “on a swivel” when she’s in public amid the nation’s charged political environment.
“It is a very real dynamic and very unfortunately and tragically we’ve seen political violence play out,” the New York Democrat told CNN’s Chris Wallace on “Who’s Talking to Chris Wallace?”
The New York Democrat said the deluge of threats against her means “when I wake up in the morning, I hesitate to walk my dog. It means when I come home, I have to ask my fiancé to come out to where my car is to walk me just from my car to my front door.”
“It means that there’s just – a general disposition where you kind of feel like there’s almost a static electricity around you,” she said.
The recent attack on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband has touched off fresh concern about violence against lawmakers and their families. Federal law enforcement agencies have consistently warned about the increasing threat of politically motivated violence after January 6, 2021, raising specific concerns about the likelihood that online calls for violence result in real-world attacks.
Ocasio-Cortez’s progressive credentials have made her the ire of many congressional Republicans and their supporters. She told The New York Times this fall that her office struggles to keep up with “astronomical” amount of threats she receives each day.
Such an environment, Ocasio-Cortez told CNN, has influenced her approach to her work, pushing her to be “as robust and urgent as possible.”
“I don’t want to take the time I have for granted. I don’t know if I’m going to be there to see us achieve guaranteed health care in the United States. So I need to advocate it in a very fully throated way right now,” she said.
“Similar to a full path to citizenship for millions of people in this country. I just have to be out and say it and at least leave a roadmap should I not be there.”
Asked about the future of Democratic leadership in Congress, Ocasio-Cortez, speaking broadly, said, “I do believe we need to have not just generational shifts, but potentially substantive shifts as well.”
“I think that and I hope that what we’ve seen, whether people think it’s too left or too right, or up or down or whatever, it may be that we shift in a direction where the leadership of the Democratic Party is less reliant on large and corporate donors and sponsorship, because that does have a shaping effect of our legislative priorities,” she said.