The meteoric rise of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has proved many things, and many wrong. But she primarily shows that democracy is alive and well in America. All you need is someone like her.
On Tuesday 26th June 2018, something remarkable happened. A positive populist, full-platform progressive won the Democratic primary over an incumbent congressman that had been in the House of Representatives for 19 years. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is an inspirational person. I tweeted about a week before her primary contest that she was the most impressive politician of my lifetime. I meant it then, and I stand by it now. Alexandria was an organiser for Bernie Sanders in 2016, and she shares many of the core beliefs and much of the political platform of her mentor-by-proxy. Twelve months ago, Alexandria was tending bar in the Bronx, today she is the youngest woman (at 28) ever elected to Congress.
This photo is from Nov. 14, 2017. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, 28, was then working as a bartender.
Less than a year later, she defeated the likely next Speaker of the House, and will almost certainly be the youngest woman ever elected to Congress pic.twitter.com/JgHjdQWAF6
— Jeff Stein (@JStein_WaPo) 27 June 2018
To give you some sense of the magnitude of her win tonight lets discuss the difference in campaign finance. Her opponent, Joe Crowley, had raised about $3,600,000 and was the fourth-ranked Democrat in the House. It was widely believed Crowley was going to be the next Speaker. Ocasio-Cortez by comparison raised around $350,000. But she won anyway. She won because she had an actual message, and actual platform of real policies, and just listening to her for a handful of minutes confirms she’s the real deal.
In fact, she’s a younger, smarter, more charismatic Bernie Sanders.
Here’s her platform:
Just as important as her platform was her message. She really, truly understands her constituents, their wants, needs, desires, ambitions, hopes and aspirations. Please watch this video. It is the best political ad I have ever seen.
The knock-on effect for both American politics and the Democrats is obvious. It shows that democracy is alive and well, and can still work in the United States; despite the travesty that was the Bernie Sanders/Hillary Clinton 2016 primary contest. It means that the Bernie Sanders model works. You can win with small money donations provided you have the right message for the electorate.
For the Democratic Party, this primary was a reckoning. It means that the Bernie Sanders, democratic-socialist populism of 2016 has not dissipated. If the Democratic Party leadership refuse to acknowledge, and don’t start channeling this energy into the midterms this November, then that ‘blue wave’ they desire will be a tepid creek. If the Democrats want any chance to take back the House, they need to embrace candidates with approaches and policies similar to Alexandria. If they don’t, and they stick with hackneyed corporate candidates such as Hillary Clinton or Nancy Pelosi, then the Party will quickly go the way of poor Joe Crowley.
For Ocasio-Cortez, this is the beginning. The genesis of a long and impressive political career. Yesterday, her twitter following was around 45,000. At last count it’s 200,000. Alexandria has gone from ‘Crowley’s opponent’, two days ago, to the ‘it girl’ of U.S. politics today. Her stunning upset victory has mindless ‘inside the bubble’ pundits like Joy Reid tweeting: “Pretty much all of political journalism are doing an Ocasio-Cortez crash course tonight, myself included”.
Pretty much all of political journalism are doing an Ocasio-Cortez crash course tonight, myself included. https://t.co/NT8199Fi2s
— Joy Reid (@JoyAnnReid) 27 June 2018
I love the movie ‘Mr Smith Goes To Washington’. I fear the next two years are going to be a little bit like that for Ms Ocasio-Cortez. I wonder how someone as passionate, inspired and true will find it in the swamp. Only time will tell.
In the meantime, watch this space.