Ayanna Pressley, Democrat-elect, says party at a crossroads: ‘Are we really who we say we are?’

December 13, 2018 GMT

Democratic Rep.-elect Ayanna Pressley gave some tough love to her party during a speech to its biggest donors Tuesday, according to audio reviewed by BuzzFeed News.

Ms. Pressley, who defeated 10-term incumbent Democratic Rep. Michael Capuano in the Massachusetts September primary, told donors gathered for a Democratic National Committee fundraising meeting in Washington that while Democrats “altered the course of history” during the midterm elections, they must also ask themselves whether they’re committed “to make a lasting, transformative change.”

“We have given hope to many and we must do everything we can to keep that hope,” she said, BuzzFeed reported.

Ms. Pressley said one area where the Democratic Party could improve is doing a better job at reaching out to marginalized communities. She said one question she was asked by a young person during a hearing on gun violence the previous evening was, “Do black lives only matter in election years when our votes are at stake?”

“Those young people are demanding and expecting more from me,” she said of her constituents. “And I owe it to them. I ran to fight for the ignored, the left out, and the left behind. And that is not only true for the electorate. Together we’ll do that work beginning with our own party.”

Ms. Pressley said the Democratic Party is at a “crossroads,” where it can go all in for advocating equality and justice or continue on with more of the same.

“Are we really who we say we are?” she asked, BuzzFeed reported.

Ms. Pressley suggested that in order for Democrats to win again in 2020, they must get “candid and frank” about when they “came up short from the very values that we espouse as a party.”

“In the Massachusetts 7th and across the nation, what I saw what I bore witness to was a mandate for hope,” she said. “But we do need a checkup.”