If Dems Plan To Reclaim Congress, They’d Better Take Ocasio-Cortez’s Win Seriously (Video)

In last week’s New York Democratic primary, an obscure 28-year-old Democratic Socialist from the Bronx with no prior political experience upended the Democratic establishment by unseating incumbent Rep. Joe Crowley, chairman of the House Democratic Caucus.

You’ve heard of her by now.

Her name is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

In the week since her clinching the nomination, Ocasio-Cortez has garnered media coverage from The Washington Post, Steven Colbert, The Intercept, the New York Timesand even Fox News on which Sean Hannity tried to use the former Bernie Sanders organizer’s own platform to discredit her.

(It didn’t work.)

With primaries happening all over the country, what makes this one so noteworthy?

Contrary to what House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) say, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s victory is a bellwether for the direction the nation is moving, and the establishment Democratic party would do much better overall reclaiming the majority from the GOP at the national and state level if it embraced the platform of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the platform that won 23 states for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) in 2016 and is ushering in scores of progressive candidates.

Here are just some Democratic Socialists who have impacted the political landscape since Sen. Sanders’ historic campaign.

In November, former journalist Danica Roem, the first openly transgender person ever elected to a state legislature, helped flip Virginia’s House of Delegates from a Republican majority to the minority after she ousted anti-LGBTQ Bob Marshall, who served since 1992.

The Virginia House of Delegates also seated Lee Carter, a single-payer healthcare advocate who promised during his campaign to expand Medicaid access.

New York City incumbent mayor Bill de Blasio won a second term against Republican state lawmaker Nicole Malliotakis and several third-party candidates.

Seven Sanders-inspired aldermen candidates won in Somerville, Mass. this past November: Matthew McLaughlin, JT Scott, Ben Ewen-Campen, Jesse Clingan, and at-large aldermen Bill White, Mary Jo Rossetti, and Will Mbah.

Fordham Law professor, activist, former congressional and 2014 New York gubernatorial candidate, Zephyr Teachout, may have lost her Sanders-backed bid for Congress against John Faso (R-NY), but she is running for New York Attorney General.

Pennsylvania experienced a Democratic Socialist wave in May when four candidates–Summer Lee, Sara Innamorato, Kristin Seale, and Elizabeth Fiedler–emerged victorious from their bids for state house seats.

In Ocasio-Cortez’s New York, Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo has a progressive challenger in actor Cynthia Nixon of Sex and the City fame.

Franklin Bynum won the Democratic nomination for criminal court judge in Houston, Texas in April. He was one of 16 others proudly running under the Democratic Socialist label who appeared on primary ballots across the state.

Bynum said:

“Yes, I’m running as a socialist. What I’m trying to do is be a Democrat who actually stands for something, and tells people, ‘Here’s how we are going to materially improve conditions in your life.’”

In Hawaii, state representative Kaniela Ing is running for Congress. Former Richmond, Calif. mayor, Gayle McLaughlin, is running for lieutenant governor. In Tennessee,  East Tennessee State University adjunct professor, Dennis Prater, is running for county commissioner.

All over America, people are learning the word “socialist” no longer instills the propagandistic fear it once did.

For many, Sen. Bernie Sanders was the first American politician to embrace the “Democratic Socialist” affiliation. Through him we learned Democratic Socialists are not the Soviet communist boogie men we have sacrificed incalculable sums and millions of lives fighting over the past 100 years.

Democratic Socialists believe in Medicare for all, tuition-free college, fully funded public schools, aggressive infrastructure investment, strong unions, a major shift away from fossil fuels in favor of renewable energy to combat climate change, abolishing Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE), equal rights for all, grassroots campaign finance, a right to housing, an assault weapons ban with stricter gun control, an end to private prisons, restoring Glass-Steagall, and a federal jobs guarantee.

These are Ocasio-Cortez’s positions, and they are the future of the Democratic party.

According to Jacobin:

“[British Labour Party Leader Jeremy] Corbyn, Sanders, and Ocasio-Cortez have proven that elections can play a crucial role at politicizing the working class and inspiring them to organize.

There are glimmers of hope around the country. Ocasio-Cortez’s victory and instant celebrity shows how working people respond to class-based politics. Now that millions are curious about socialism, our task is to organize and mobilize as many of them as possible — at the ballot box and beyond.”

As Bernie Sanders said in 2016:

“Election days come and go. But political and social revolutions that attempt to transform our society never end.”

Image credit: www.thecut.com

Ted Millar is writer and teacher. His work has been featured in myriad literary journals, including Better Than Starbucks, The Broke Bohemian, Straight Forward Poetry, Caesura, Circle Show, Cactus Heart, Third Wednesday, and The Voices Project. He is also a contributor to The Left Place blog on Substack, Liberal Nation Rising, and Medium.