Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Isn't Interested in Higher Office Just "For the Sake of That Title"

A presidential run isn't the end goal for Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Though any politician who downplays their desire to seek the highest office should be met with skepticism, the New York representative insisted as much in a cover story for the December 2020 issue of Vanity Fair. "I think it's part of our cultural understanding of politics, where — if you think someone is great, you automatically think they should be president," she said. "I joke. I'm like, 'Is Congress not good enough?'"

"I don't want to be a savior, I want to be a mirror."

Ocasio-Cortez explained how climbing the political ladder appeals to her less than finding a role that allows her to be "effective" — whether that's in Congress, the cabinet, or elsewhere. "I don't know if I'm really going to be staying in the House forever, or if I do stay in the House, what that would look like," she said. "I don't see myself really staying where I'm at for the rest of my life." She added: "I don't want to aspire to a quote-unquote higher position just for the sake of that title or just for the sake of having a different or higher position. . . . I don't know if I could necessarily be more effective in an administration, but, for me that's always what the question comes down to. . . . I don't want to be a savior, I want to be a mirror."

The representative again addressed calls for her presidential run in a June 2022 appearance on "The Late Show." After host Stephen Colbert pointed out Ocasio-Cortez would meet the age requirement ahead of the next presidential election in 2024, she said, "I think that we need to focus on keeping a democracy for anybody to be president in the next couple of years, and that's my central focus, helping the people of this country right now."

Many of her peers and colleagues think she's got what it takes. "I've told her, I fully expect that she's going to run one day, and that she should," Julián Castro, the former Housing and Urban Development secretary who also ran in the most recent Democratic primary, told Vanity Fair. "She absolutely has the talent, the dynamism, and the leadership ability."

Bernie Sanders, who has been a sort of mentor for Ocasio-Cortez, noted: "There are some politicians who are very good on policy, and there are some politicians who are good communicators, and there are some politicians that have a way about them that relates very well to ordinary people. Alexandria has all three of those characteristics."