By Nate Odenkirk | Staff Writer
In a major win for the progressive wing of the party, the Democratic National Convention has agreed to fully double Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s speaking time to two minutes. “This is a big, big win for liberals—they really twisted our arm on this one,” says Jojo Rustler, a D.N.C. spokesperson. “She can use those two minutes however she wants, after the speech is approved beforehand by every single delegate.”
This is a big, big win for liberals—they really twisted our arm on this one.
An outspoken Democratic Socialist, AOC has drawn ire from mainstream party insiders, who see her brand of politics as extreme. But today’s decision to double her speaking time is a testament to how far left the party has moved over the past four years. “In 2016, AOC would have gotten four seconds. Now she has 120. This is the power of grassroots activism,” said Senator Bernie Sanders, who himself was given unlimited speaking time in the convention’s parking lot.
There are of course stipulations to this deal. For example, the schedule has not changed—after her original 60 seconds, John Kasich will still begin his 30-minute speech. The D.N.C. has also arranged for a novelty-sized two-minute countdown to appear behind Ms. Ocasio-Cortez. A blaring alarm will sound once it reaches zero, at which point AOC will be escorted off stage. “We really want progressives to be included in the conversation,” said Democratic Nominee Joe Biden. “But just because you’re part of the conversation doesn’t mean you should pipe up. At least, that’s the advice I’ve been given, c’mon man.” Throughout the campaign Biden has repeatedly dismissed calls from the party’s left to allow AOC to speak for longer, calling it a “socialist pipe dream” that could never materialize.
After her original 60 seconds, John Kasich will begin his own 30-minute speech.
The announcement was met with swift backlash from some party moderates for caving to what they see as unrealistic demands from the party fringes. “How the hell are we going to win the Rust Belt when AOC is up there speaking for two full minutes?” said Adam Gravy, a delegate from Florida. “We may as well have just handed the election to Donald Trump on a silver platter.”
Other members were dismayed that a compromise wasn’t worked out between the two sides. One idea that gained traction was to break up AOC’s speaking time into five second chunks throughout the day, but that plan fizzled after it became clear that more people would hear her speech. The D.N.C. was quick to remind worried party insiders that it will put up a message encouraging viewers to use the bathroom or get a drink immediately before Ms. Ocasio-Cortez is slated to speak.
This historic move is potentially a sign of things to come. As the party moves left and AOC’s profile rises, she may very well be in contention for the presidency in 2028 or 2032. At that point, Democratic Nominee Ocasio-Cortez can look forward to as much as five minutes of uninterrupted speaking time. ♦