The key political partnership of the Millennial left was born over noodles. Saikat Chakrabarti met Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez at Potjanee, a Thai restaurant near his apartment in the West Village, in March 2017. She was looking to get into politics; he was helping fund people getting into politics through the Justice Democrats, the progressive political action committee he’d co-founded that year.
The result has been a viral sensation: a House freshman with more than 4.9 million Twitter followers; a call for a “Green New Deal,” which has become a rallying point for young activists; and—from the cages on the border to the committees on the Hill—a serious powering-up of congressional oversight. This has made Ocasio-Cortez the leader of a movement, not just a congresswoman. Chakrabarti, for his part, has been much more than Ocasio-Cortez’s chief of staff—he’s become the chief strategist of a generational insurgency. But the political establishment has now trained its fire on their collaboration.
In June, the speaker and her best-known freshman clashed when Nancy Pelosi caved to Republicans and moderate Democrats and agreed to pass an emergency-aid package, skewed heavily right, for the southern border.
The move horrified members of the progressive left—it was bad politics, they thought, typical of their elders’ timidity, and worse still, little in it would help the child migrants in what Ocasio-Cortez had called “concentration camps” on the border. Their pushback against it, which included tweets by Chakrabarti, outraged the party leadership.
This has made Ocasio-Cortez’s chief of staff, until now little known, a political target…
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