27 June 2018

I invite you to meet Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez


Even if you're not normally interested in elections, this 2-minute video is worth viewing, because it may be representative of a major shift in U.S. politics.

In the New York Democratic primary election yesterday, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez beat the incumbent Joe Crowley - by 15 percentage points.  The contrast between the candidates couldn't have been greater.  He has been a major figure in the current Democratic party for almost 20 years - fourth in seniority in the House of Representatives, and considered the likely replacement to Nancy Pelosi as House Speaker.

She is 28 years old, female, of Puerto Rican descent, with a working-class background, and is an advocate of socialist principles, such as Medicare for all.  She refused any corporate funding, relying only on small donations, and accumulated only $600,000 exclusively from small-dollar donors, versus Joe Crowley's $3,000,000.

She is considered by many to be representative of the future of the Democratic Party.
Ocasio-Cortez ran decidedly to the left of Crowley, but she also shook up how Democrats go about getting elected. Until now, Democrats have seen big money in politics as simply a deal with the devil that had to be made. Democrats are so often outspent by Republican mega-donors that they viewed courting big-dollar donors and corporations as part of creating a level playing field.

But if one of Democrats’ top fundraisers and likely successor to Nancy Pelosi can be toppled, perhaps Democrats need to rethink that deal.
She will easily sweep to victory in November over any Republican challenger; that result will have no effect on the national balance, because this district voted heavily for Hilary Clinton in the last election.  (Donald Trump's claim that Crowley lost of Ocasio-Cortez because Crowley was a "Trump-hater" is of course pure bullshit).

A seasoned CNN political analyst opined today that "The Democratic base is sick of the establishment."

One last observation regarding the often-talked-about "Blue Wave."  It's not certain that the Democrats will make major gains in the November mid-terms, but it is clear that a "blue wave" is already sweeping inside the Democratic Party.  Look at this graph from the Washington Post:


For eighteen years, the Republican Party has remained ideologically stable - about 2/3 conservative and about 10% liberal.  The Democratic Party has become steadily more liberal - from 29% to 50%  It's hard to believe that as recently as 2000, there were as many conservative Democrats as liberal ones.
Most of the Democrats who win primaries and then win election in November will not be as progressive as Ocasio-Cortez. Should the Democrats surge to victory, the new Congress will not be one in which Democratic Socialists are swarming the halls of power. But it will certainly be a more progressive Democratic caucus than the one that’s there or, probably, any in the last century.
If you read this without viewing the video, I encourage you to scroll up and spend 2 minutes watching it at full-screen.  I think it will become a template for a surge of similar campaign videos this fall.  And it cost only $10,000 to produce (she wrote the script for it, BTW).

20 comments:

  1. so, what she did in a primary mirrors trump, the outsider.
    how is that a Good Thing?

    full on populism in both parties, what could possibly go wrong...

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    1. You're going to have to help me out here. How is ANY free election not populism in action?

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  2. The mid-terms will be a defining moment for the Dems. If they lose, expect a hard correction back to the center. If they gain, expect an even greater shift to the left...

    ...and then wait for the most divisive general election in modern US history.

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    1. "If they lose, expect a hard correction back to the center."

      A hard correction from center-Right to center? Right now, most Democrats are Right of where Nixon was on many, if not most, issues. And you needn't take my word for it- Barry Goldwater stated he didn't recognize his own party when he retired. Trump didn't happen overnight, "the crazies" (again- Goldwater's terminology) began taking over the Republican party with the Evangelicals that W imported to vote for his father. Goldwater was alarmed then because, "You can't work with those people."

      And they've gone further Right with each successive election, and with each failure of the spineless, feckless Democrats to mount a hard line opposition. Which is how we find ourselves where we are today with the man who would be king.

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  3. Glad to see the Dems aren't complete pussies. Of course, my calling them "pussies" is just one more reason why moderates should control our discourse.

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    1. I think you're being unnecessarily uncivil with this comment.

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    2. Actually, I hope you're right. Thanks for not censoring it, though.

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  4. There's also another interesting shift going on, having to do with party identification -- and which may be consistent with your graph. People who are moderate have been leaving the parties, at least in public affiliation. In California for example, they've left the Republican party (and from the Democratic party) but are now identified as unaffiliated-- to the point that unaffiliated is almost as large as either political party in state elections. Your graph could also possibly indicate a departure of moderates from the Democratic party to unaffiliated status. The way to figure out if this is true would be to look at party membership as % of total voters, and then Conservative/ Liberal/ Moderate splits as % of total voters within each party affiliation.

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    1. Good point. That aspect is commented on (briefly) at the link -
      "Part of that shift is a function of less-liberal Democrats leaving the party and becoming independents. But the percentage of Americans identifying as Democratic only fell 5 percentage points from 2000 to 2017..."

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  5. I am always happy to see younger people like this step up and take a greater interest in government. Not to overly generalize, but I think there is a greater tendency towards progressive ideas from people such as this. That said, I can't help but worry about the fire that is burning your house to the ground and how it is starting to catch my own.

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  6. I applaud the youth movement from both parties. But advocating "free everything" might play in extreme Dem enclaves, but will not help the party nationally. It might, in fact, energize the right by serving to clarify the increasing leftist thrust of the Democrat party. (I'll remind everyone that her brand of socialism has failed everywhere it's ever been implemented. Venezuela, anyone?)

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    1. Public schools, libraries, police, fire dept, public roads and bridges- all shining examples of the dreaded... Socialism.

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    2. This is plainly false. Venezuela collapsed due to rampant corruption and mismanagement, nepotism and cronyism. Look at most of Scandinavia if you want a proper analogue for functional socialism.

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    3. To be fair, the brand of socialism most of the folks on the left are interested in is a more Scandinavian form of socialism - high, but progressive, tax structure coupled with greater social welfare benefits. Iceland, Norway, and Sweden are the points of comparison. Mainly, they're pushing for greater benefits to support the average working stiff - higher wages, family leave, health insurance, etc.

      Although admittedly they do have a bit of a Marxist bend, they tend not to be asking that the state take over industries, such as oil production re: Venezuela.

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    4. Thank you, Topher, for an impressively concise summary.

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    5. I think this lady goes a bit further than Scandanavian Socialism. She's calling for government guaranteed jobs for everyone (at a $15/hr minimum wage with full medical, medical leave, and family leave).

      https://www.marketwatch.com/story/ocasio-cortez-victory-brings-renewed-attention-to-jobs-guarantee-idea-2018-06-27

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    6. That's fair. Scandinavian countries have long argued for universal basic income (a step farther than guaranteed jobs) but have never fully realized it. Finland's experiment is a start, but we've tried the same thing a couple times in North America.

      I still think the Scandinavian model is the basic framework they're using, more than the state-run business model, even if some of the tenets are not exact. The democratic socialists claim their model has never been fully implemented anywhere, but to be fair I think they're not clear about their end goal, so it's hard to justify their argument one way or the other.

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    7. I'm all for socialism (after all, it works for the defense industry) but it should be acknowledged that, following the European model, the costs of such programs are usually borne by those who benefit from it the most. In other words, consumption is taxed more heavily than production. Fine by me, but I fear it's a bit too egalitarian for Middle America. After all, some of the benefits might accrue to THOSE people.

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    8. Hi, Middle America here. What people are you referring to that I don't want to see benefit?

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  7. Populism, I think, means appealing to the common person without worrying about how it will work - so free tuition, free healthcare, free pre-school, handcuff the racist cops, a chicken in every pot and a Buick in every garage and pay for it by soaking the rich. Basic Huey Long tactics. Which is not to say reform isn’t needed because it is.

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