Yesterday was a bad day in the United States for liberals, for abortion rights, for acceptance, for goodness. The Supreme Court upheld Donald Trump’s travel ban (although, it could have been worse — they could have upheld his first travel ban) and out in California, they established a double standard for abortion rights. Meanwhile, establishment Democrats were inexplicably going after Maxine Waters, one of the few Democrats actually standing up to the Administration, which once again reminded those of us on the left that we don’t really love a lot of our national party leaders, who constantly prove themselves to be disappointments, and who are as fixated with keeping their jobs as many on the right are.
And then Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez — the 28-year-old daughter of Puerto Rican parents — came out of no-fucking-where to defeat Joseph Crowley, the fourth highest-ranking Democrat in Congress. Despite being massively outspent, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez won on a very progressive platform: Single-payer health care, the abolition of ICE, and guaranteed jobs for everyone.
The victory of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez means everything, and it also means nothing at all. It will be a huge story for two days; the left will suggest that Ocasio-Cortez, her platform, and her energy are the future of the Democratic party, and the Republicans will decry the left’s newfound Socialism and suggest that the Republicans will trounce the left in November because of how far to the left we are running.
It’s all bullshit.
In 2010, entrenched, established Republican Eric Cantor was defeated by a Tea Party Republican (whose name I don’t even remember), and we on the left thought that Republicans would splinter and fall apart, that the Tea Party would take over the Party and it would crumble.
It hasn’t crumbled. If anything, the Tea Party wing of the GOP is responsible for the election of Donald Trump. It only proved that there are some parts of the country where insanely conservative members can win Congressional seats, and some parts of the country where they prefer more moderate Republicans (although, those parts of the country seem to be disappearing). Democrats need not all run under the same wet blanket. Hell, we let Joe Manchin in the Democratic party, and in a place like New York or Massachusetts, he’s a Republican and not even a very moderate one, at that.
We still operate under a two-party system, but there’s no reason those two parties can’t be divided into two parties of their own. That’s how it’s always been. There have always been outliers in the Democratic party (I mean: Bernie has been there for decades, and does anyone remember Dennis Kucinich?). There’s always been a vast difference between a Massachusetts Democrat and a South Carolina Democrat (who is basically a Massachusetts Republican).
All that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s victory means for the party on a national level is that there is a far more effective strategy than “civility” and “letting them hang themselves on their own rope” or letting Trump talk himself into his own hole. That hole is bottomless, and no one gives a shit how deep he digs himself into it. The Democrats need to learn from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to fucking take it to them. For better or worse (OK, mostly for worse), politics is driven less by policy and more by personality. That’s as much Obama and Clinton’s fault as Trump’s. When W. won because he’s “the guy the country would most want to have a beer with,” we should have seen the writing on the wall.
We want strong personalities; we want candidates who will actually stand up for us; and we want candidates with some motherfucking fight in them. We’ll suffer Pelosi and Schumer for a little while longer, but if there’s one thing that Democrats should learn from Trump, it’s that we all want someone to go out there and fight for us, and in NYC, us are Democrats who want to abolish ICE and universal health care, while us in Georgia may only want to hang on to Obamacare and implement a more compassionate immigration system. Democrats from both sides of the spectrum can work together just as well as Tea Party Republicans can work with establishment Republicans, which is to say “not very well at all,” but it’s better than the alternative, which is a bunch of wet blanket Democrats telling us to maintain our civility while Trump Republicans punch us in the face.
Here's thought about the big upset Dem primary in NY-14. A year ago, soon-to-be Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was tending bar. We need more good bartenders in Congress, be they Republican or Democrat. You know what good bartenders do? They LISTEN to people! pic.twitter.com/2WI6i2pd3Q— Howard Cash (@GeneCodesHoward) June 27, 2018