Cornel West calls Sanders, Ocasio-Cortez ‘window dressing, at worst’ for Democrats

Progressive third-party presidential candidate Cornel West called Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), two of the more famous liberals in Congress, “window dressing, at worst” for the Democratic Party, in an interview on The Hill’s “Rising” on Tuesday.

West, who had backed Sanders’s 2016 White House bid, was asked to respond to remarks the Vermont independent made in a Sunday interview, during which he defended his support for President Biden’s reelection bid by underscoring the importance of preserving democracy and preventing former President Trump from returning to the White House.

“Brother Bernie’s making a plausible argument, but I think deep down in his heart, he knows that the Democratic Party has no fundamental intention of speaking to the needs of poor people and working people,” the left-wing academic said, adding, “and that he and AOC and the others are going to be in a certain sense, window dressing, at worst, and, at best, people to appeal to every four years.”

“But the Democratic Party is beyond redemption at this point when it comes to seriously speaking to the needs of poor and working people,” West said. 

The Hill has reached out to the offices of Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez for further comment.

They have been two of the most vocal progressives in Congress and have consistently pushed the Biden administration to take more liberal positions and policy steps — including recently on his student-loan debt forgiveness plan. 

In an interview Sunday, Sanders pushed back on some earlier criticism from West, who had claimed the senator was supporting Biden because he was “fearful of neo-fascism of Trump.”

“Where I disagree with my good friend of Cornel West is, I think in these really, very difficult times where there is a real question whether democracy is going to remain in the United States of America,” Sanders said on CNN’s “State of the Union” when asked about West’s remarks. He made a similar point on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

“You know, Donald Trump is not somebody who believes in democracy,” he continued on CNN. “Whether women are going to be able to continue to control their own bodies, whether we have social justice in America, we end bigotry — around that, I think, we have got to bring the entire progressive community to defeat Trump or whoever the Republican nominee will be.”

West responded on Tuesday: “I think it’s a plausible argument. I just don’t think it’s a persuasive one. I think that the argument he’s making means that there’s never any possibility for breaking from the corporate duopoly. There’s never any possibility of trying to speak to the needs of poor and working people.”

Ocasio-Cortez also recently backed Biden’s reelection efforts, saying on a podcast when asked, “I think he’s done quite well, given the limitations that we have.”

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