If an armed mob broke into Ted Cruz’s house, forcing him to hide in a closet or bathroom for hours wondering if he was going to make it out alive, the odds are high to extremely high that he wouldn’t simply shrug his shoulders afterward and say to himself, Well, better get on with it. In fact there’s absolutely no doubt he’d demand the situation be investigated and the perpetrators held accountable. If it turned out his neighbors had helped instigate the home invasion and then were like, “You’re fine, Ted, don’t make a big deal about this”? Somehow we don’t see him being all, “You’re right, Bob. Water off a duck’s back. You still coming over for that cookout Sunday?” Cruz wouldn’t have that reaction because no sane person would have such a reaction, though, of course, that’s exactly what he has demanded his Democratic colleagues do following the violent attack on the Capitol caused in part by his decision to feed the rioters a pack of lies about the 2020 election. And while Cruz and company may want to simply move on, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is quite reasonably refusing to allow them to do so.
Blasting Cruz, as well as Senator Josh Hawley and representatives Chip Roy and Mo Brooks, for whipping Donald Trump supporters into a frenzy with baseless claims of election fraud and then refusing to acknowledge their role in the insurrection that left five people dead, Ocasio-Cortez said in a 90-minute Instagram Live on Monday: “So many of the people who helped perpetrate and who take responsibility for what happened in the Capitol are trying to tell us all to move on…to forget about what happened…[and] that it wasn’t a big deal…without any accountability, without any truth-telling, or without actually confronting the extreme damage, physical harm, loss of life, and trauma that was inflicted on not just me as a person, not just other people as individuals, but on all of us as a collective, and on many other people. We cannot move on without accountability. We cannot heal without accountability. And so all of these people who want to tell us to move on are doing so at their own convenience,” before adding that she is a survivor of sexual assault—something she’s apparently told very few people. “These are the tactics of abusers,” she said of Cruz and company’s insistence that everyone just get over the attack on the Capitol. “Or rather, these are the tactics that abusers use…. What they’re asking for when they say, ‘Can we just move on?’ is that what they are asking is, ‘Can you just, can we just forget this happened so that I can do it again, without recourse?’”
Noting that the Republican lawmakers who played a clear part in inciting the violence that took place on January 6 had several weeks to own up to what they did but instead “doubled down,” Ocasio-Cortez said, “What that tells me is that when given another window of political opportunity for themselves, even if they know that it means that it will endanger their colleagues, they will do it again,” which is why they should resign. “Accountability is not about revenge. It’s not about getting back at people,” she said. “It’s not about any of that. It’s about creating safety. And we are not safe with people who hold positions of power who are willing to endanger the lives of others if they think it will score them a political point.”
Ocasio-Cortez said she started to feel unsafe in Washington two days before the attack happened, both because Capitol security had been discussing the possibility of violence and because Trump’s supporters had started surrounding the building. In the Instagram Live she said that on the day of the riot she’d just gotten back to her office after getting her second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine when she and a staffer heard loud banging in the hallway. “I hear these huge, violent bangs on my door and then every door going into my office,” she said. “Like someone was trying to break the door down. And there were no voices. There were no yells. No one saying who they were, nobody identifying themselves.” Ocasio-Cortez said she ran into her legislative director’s office and then returned to her own office to hide in the bathroom. Then she heard someone yelling: “Where is she? Where is she?” At that point she said she was inches from the bathroom door and could see the person opening the door to her personal office. “I have never been quieter in my entire life,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “I don’t even know if I held my breath,” but “this was the moment where I thought everything was over. And the weird thing about moments like these is that you lose all sense of time. In retrospect maybe it was four seconds, maybe it was five seconds, maybe it was 10 seconds, maybe it was one second. I don’t know. It felt like my brain was able to have so many thoughts in that moment between these screams and these yells of ‘where is she?’…I mean, I thought I was going to die. And I had a lot of thoughts. You have a lot of thoughts, I think, when you’re in a situation like that. One of those thoughts that I had was…I really just felt like, you know, if this is the plan for me, then people will be able to take it from here. I had a lot of thoughts, but that was the thought that I had about you all. I felt that if this was the journey that my life was taking, that I felt that things were going to be okay and that I had fulfilled my purpose.”
A few moments later Ocasio-Cortez said her legislative director told her it was safe to come out, having realized the man shouting “where is she?” was a Capitol police officer who hadn’t identified himself. Ocasio-Cortez said the man’s decision not to immediately say who he was “didn’t feel right” and unnerved her. “Things weren’t adding up,” she said, noting that it felt like the officer was looking at her with “anger and hostility.” The officer then told the congresswoman and her staffer to go to another congressional building. Not having been given a specific location in which to shelter, they frantically looked for a new place to hide as they heard rioters storming the Capitol, ultimately barricading themselves with Rep. Katie Porter in the California congresswoman’s office, where they remained for five hours. (Speaking to Lawrence O’Donnell on Monday, Porter said she would never forget telling Ocasio-Cortez, “Don’t worry, I’m a mom. I’m calm. I’ve got everything here we need,” and Ocasio-Cortez responding: “I just hope I get to be a mom—I hope I don’t die today.”)
Cruz’s refusal to take responsibility for his part in the attack comes as his fellow Republicans have increasingly made the Capitol a terrifying place to work for Democrats. In addition to the insurrection, representatives like Lauren Boebert have insisted it’s their right to carry guns to work, while Marjorie Taylor Greene, among other things, once indicated her support for executing Nancy Pelosi. Yet Republicans swear it’s their colleagues across the aisle who are the divisive ones.