Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez slammed James Carville, saying ‘wokeness’ is ‘a term almost exclusively used by older people these days’

Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and long-time Democratic strategist James Carville.
Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and long-time Democratic strategist James Carville. Drew Angerer and Michael S. Schwartz/Getty Images
  • AOC slammed strategist James Carville for blaming “wokeness” for Terry McAuliffe’s defeat.
  • She said that “wokeness” is “a term almost exclusively used by older people these days.”
  • It’s the latest in an ongoing intra-Democratic debate about how to talk about issues like race and gender.

On Friday, Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York – a leading progressive voice within her party and the youngest woman ever elected to Congress – slammed long-time Democratic strategist James Carville for being out of touch with the modern Democratic Party amid the debate over its election losses.

“The average audience for people seriously using the word ‘woke’ in a 2021 political discussion are James Carville and Fox News pundits,” the congresswoman wrote on Twitter. “So that should tell you all you need to know.”

Carville, who originally gained national prominence by helping then-Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton win the 1992 presidential election, told PBS on Wednesday that “wokeness” was to blame for Democrat Terry McAuliffe’s loss to Republican Glenn Youngkin in the Virginia gubernatorial election.

“What went wrong is just stupid wokeness,” said Carville, referring to rhetoric about defunding the police and renaming buildings. “Some of these people need to go to a ‘woke’ detox center or something.”

“They’re expressing a language that people just don’t use, and there’s backlash and a frustration at that,” he also said. Carville has a history of attacking so-called “wokeness” – a catch-all term with lots of purported meanings, in this case referring to the language progressives use to talk about social issues like race and gender. In 2020, he gave an interview to Vox where he made similar points.

AOC made her critique while calling out a local news story that claimed she said McAuliffe “wasn’t woke enough” because she said that “moderate Dems” were “ceding white swing voters to the right” by not forcefully engaging Republicans on the issues.

“How can news outlets even attribute words to me I didn’t say?” she wrote. “I said there are limits to trying to mobilize a campaign with a 100% moderate strategy without mobilizing the base. Said nothing [about] ‘wokeness’ which is a term almost exclusively used by older people these days.”

She then took aim at Carville, writing that the “average audience for people seriously using the word ‘woke’ in a 2021 political discussion are James Carville and Fox News pundits.”

She ended by arguing that the term itself, rather than being denigrating to older people, is actually insulting to voters under 45.

“Don’t wonder why youth turnout falls when Dems talk about them like this,” she wrote. “We need everyone.”