In a stunning primary upset that is making news across the nation, ten-term senior Democrat House Leader Joe Crowley lost his seat to a 28-year-old community organizer Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a Bronx-based activist with no prior political experience.
The shocking nature of her win is compounded by the fact that Mr. Crowley was backed by the DNC and major companies throughout the nation, and has not faced a primary challenge in more than a decade and lost by a considerable margin. However, the state of New York isn’t the only part of the country that will feel the repercussions of this unprecedented primary upset.
The fact that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez ran on an openly socialist platform and won in spite of the DNC’s total lack of support makes it clear that many Democrat voters are tired of business as usual in Washington, and are moving further left in hopes of finding better candidates.
Ms. Ocasio-Cortez’ platform may not be fully endorsed by establishment Democrats in Washington, but it is clearly endorsed by her future constituents. Unlike Mr. Crowley, who ran a campaign in which less than 1% of all donations were from small donors, Ms. Ocasio-Cortez followed Senator Bernie Sanders’ lead and focused on people who gave small contributions instead of appealing to corporate donors. In fact, an overwhelming 70% of all of her campaign contributions came from people who gave less than $200 at a time. She galvanized volunteers to help her organize events and collect signatures. Even so, she was not without backing from well-known organizations. Black Lives Caucus, Our Revolution, The People for Bernie and True Blue NY are some of the many progressive organizations that have endorsed her run for Congress.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s stance on important matters is highly unlikely to appeal to any conservative voter. She supports the strictest gun control laws in the nation, including a ban on bump stocks, assault rifles and high-capacity magazines. She is in favor of abolishing ICE, eliminating private prisons, providing Medicaid to the entire population and enacting a Federal jobs guarantee program that would not only guarantee full employment to anyone who wants a job, but also provide employees with a minimum wage of $15 per hour and a basic benefits package that would include healthcare and childcare.
She also wants to eliminate tuition fees at public colleges and universities, and completely eliminate the use of fossil fuels throughout the United States by 2035. Luckily for her, New York is overwhelmingly Democrat, and so she does not need to try to reach Republican or even moderate voters. Her primary win almost guarantees that she will win the race for Congress and become the youngest member of Congress ever.
Naturally, Ms. Ocasio-Cortez isn’t the only aspiring politician in the Democrat Party to embrace progressive points of view. Senator Sanders ran on a very similar platform in the 2016 Presidential Election and, like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, won a great deal of support in spite of opposition from the Democrat Party. Gavin Newsom, who will very likely be the next Governor of California, supports gun control, a single-payer healthcare system and two years of free community college tuition for all California residents. State Senator Kevin De León, who is running against fellow Democrat Dianne Feinstein, holds progressive viewpoints and is already picturing himself as a great leftist alternative to the centrist Democrat incumbent.
The growing number of progressive candidates has troubled many in DNC leadership as they attempt to re-assert control over the party and pick candidates that they approve of. If other progressive candidates win, it could very well shift the party further to the left, alienating any moderate voters that would still vote for Democrat candidates. At the other time, attempting to silence progressive voters as was the case in 2016 will enrage those who want a say in how their party is run, leading to many of them to either refuse to vote or turn to third-party candidates.
The current rift in the Democrat Party is sure to make for interesting news in the future as it remains to be seen if or how the party can overcome its serious divisions and present a united front against President Trump.
~ Liberty Planet