Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Upsetting News

There were primaries yesterday for the mid-term elections with some interesting results (and some predictable, such as Mitt Romney basically becoming the next senator from Utah).  The one election getting the most news comes out of Queens.

Activist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez defeated powerful House Democrat Joe Crowley in a stunning primary election upset Tuesday, a result that could shake the foundations of the established party.

The 28-year-old’s decisive victory over the fourth-ranking House Democrat in New York’s 14th District holds potentially huge implications for the future of the party. Crowley, who has served in Congress for nearly two decades, had possible ambitions to challenge Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi for House speaker if Democrats were to take a House majority in November’s midterm elections.

“We beat a machine with a movement, and that is what we have done today,” Ocasio-Cortez told supporters Tuesday night. “Working-class Americans want a clear champion and there is nothing radical about moral clarity in 2018.”

In another race seen as defining the Democratic Party’s path in 2018, primary voters emphatically backed a young woman who cast herself as a progressive on economic and social issues. Ocasio-Cortez, a community organizer and education advocate, is endorsed by the Democratic Socialists of America and ran to Crowley’s left.

She ran without corporate donors. Crowley’s campaign spent spent about 16 times more than his challenger’s did. The incumbent had about 10 times more money on hand than Ocasio-Cortez did as of early June.

Ocasio-Cortez promoted proposals such as Medicare for all, a jobs guarantee and abolishing Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Ocasio-Cortez argued that Crowley — a 56-year-old white man — could not properly connect with the diverse district.

She has earned support from the wing of the political left embodied by Sen. Bernie Sanders, the independent from Vermont. In a tweeted statement, the senator congratulated Ocasio-Cortez on an “extraordinary upset victory.”

“She took on the entire local Democratic establishment in her district and won a very strong victory. She demonstrated once again what progressive grassroots politics can do,” he said.

I am glad to see new blood in the Democrats, and I hope she wins in the fall.  My concern — and it’s tempered by age and history — is that electing those who can be portrayed as outside the mainstream makes it easier for her opponent to paint her as a wild-eyed radical, not unlike the way we did when the Tea Party nutsery won primaries in 2010.  Yeah, I know the GOP is going to paint anyone in the Democratic party as a wild-eyed radical, especially a person of color with hyphens in their name.  But I hope that in winning the primary Ms. Ocasio-Cortez will be able to attract more than just the people who voted for her yesterday.