I integrate myself with all segments of the Progressive movement. In a functional duopoly, most successful movements realize themselves within one of the parties. Whether benevolent or not, they succeed by embedding their DNA into the party.
The TEA Party is a perfect example. They became a virus to the Republican Party forcing it to replicate itself until it became a new party effectively.
The Indivisible Movement descended on the entire country to mobilize Donald Trump early on. Anger against the election of a proud sexist, racist, homophobic, xenophobic misogynist with less than the majority of the vote sustained the growth of the movement, Progressive activism. But while that was great, it would not be long lasting without much more.
The mainstream media normalized Donald Trump. With that came a retreat many times. The undulating enthusiasm polls made that clear. The anger of Progressives is never as long lasting as anger on the Right. That is likely because the Left is less creative in weaponizing discontent.
And then came Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. I met her at Netroots Nation 2017. I interviewed her twice. The first time the surrounding noise obliterated her voice. Embarrassed, I asked her for a do-over. Without hesitation, she waltzed over.
Cortez, a progressive Democratic candidate from the Bronx, New York, exuded confidence, freshness, and a desire to activate folks in New York’s 14th Congressional district. She paid her dues as a grassroots organizer, including her activities at Standing Rock. She grew up in a working-class neighborhood and went through the ups and downs characteristic of what many millennials went through during their formative years.
Before anybody gave Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez a chance, it was clear to me that she had it. It was not just her energy but her determination. It also helped that she knows how to string the Progressive message in an unabashedly sincere and feel-your-pain manner.
It was disappointing when Nancy Pelosi was somewhat dismissive of the Ocasio-Cortez win saying, "They made a choice in one district. So let’s not get yourself carried away as an expert on demographics and the rest of that."
Worse however was the statement by losing Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill.
And so she’s now talked about a lot. I’m not sure what she’s done yet to generate that kind of enthusiasm, but I wish her well. I hope she hangs the moon. But I hope she also realizes that the parts of the country that are rejecting the Democratic Party, like a whole lot of white working-class voters, need to hear about how their work is going to be respected, and the dignity of their jobs, and how we can really stick to issues that we can actually accomplish something on. The rhetoric is cheap. Getting results is a lot harder.
What part of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's statements is anathema to the people McCaskill is talking about?
I recently blogged an article by Jim Rigby, a minister at St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church in Austin, Texas. He gave it the perfect title, "How to hear what Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is saying." He points out the following.
She is speaking as a radical: When Ocasio-Cortez uses the word “radical” she does not mean “extremist.” She means someone who tries to get past political dualisms and find the “roots” of our problems. That means she believes the answer to our problems cannot be found by polarizing our corrupt system and choosing the better of the two sides. A "radical" isn’t fooled by political labels. Instead of a melodrama of the good team against the bad team, a "radical" analyses the system itself and asks simply who has power and who doesn’t.
Someone who values principles over their own party is not a traitor to that party. They are what we used to call a “statesman.” This young “stateswoman” understands that getting rid of Trump is essential. She is not making false equivalence between the parties. She is looking for the "roots" of a common standard that will be fair to everyone, especially the most vulnerable. Most all of us agree the system is rigged, right? So why do
His closing statement was most profound because it points out the fact that we ask millennials to comport themselves as we relegate them to severely damaged environment and economic systems because of our selfishness and requests for undeserved deference.
When Rep. Ocasio-Cortez showed up at a protest in Rep. Pelosi’s office, she wasn’t “pooping” on Democrats (to use Whoopi Goldberg’s words about this young upstart.) Rep. Ocasio-Cortez was supporting young climate activists and trying to get Rep. Pelosi to listen to them, period. Why is it disrespectful to question someone in authority, but not disrespectful to discount the young voices who will have to live in the world being poisoned by our every comfortable compromise today?
It is our duty to critique Rep. Ocasio Cortez like everyone else in leadership. But before we have a right to criticize her, we first have a duty to hear what she is really saying. And that means we need to listen, not in our own contexts, but the context in which she speaks. And we liberals need to make damn sure that what most offends us most about Rep. Ocasio-Cortezis is not that she is disrespectful and arrogant, but that she is who we pretend to be, but really aren’t.
The future of the Democratic Party is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Her presence along with Progressives who are not scared of offending the status quo are the only ones who can win over the new largest voting block in America.