Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez shot to political stardom overnight on Tuesday when she defeated the number four-ranked Democrat in the House, Joseph Crowley, in the biggest congressional primary upset since a young Tea Partier named Dave Brat ousted incumbent Republican Majority Leader Eric Cantor in 2014.
The stunning results put the Democratic establishment on notice: Your party is hopelessly fracturing, and will soon be the soil in which outright socialism takes root in America. It was an exciting night for young, motivated Millennial voters, but it had to be a depressing night on Capitol Hill, where Nancy Pelosi could be watching her “blue wave” disappear under a noxious cloud of Marxism.
Realistically, we could be overstating the importance of Ocasio-Cortez’s victory. The 28-year-old won a lot of votes simply by being a Latina woman in a Bronx district at a time when Democrat voters are eager to distance the party from the “old, white” establishment. Whether her voters are really on the Bernie Sanders “Let’s turn the United States into Norway” Train is unclear. For all we know, this could have been as much about sticking it to Pelosi and Friends as it was about any particular political ideology. And it cannot be ignored that while this was a huge win for the Democratic Socialists of America and other far-left groups, they have not fared all that well in other contests around the country. By and large, the Democratic establishment has held its ground against the Bernie Insurgency.
Even so, for a Democratic leadership that had hoped to avoid the fracturing that threatened to tear the GOP apart in the latter years of the Obama presidency, Tuesday night’s upset in New York could not have come as welcome news. This is a moment in history where Democrats need desperately to win back the white, working class voters that Trump stole from them in 2016; going further in the direction of “free everything,” identity politics, and anti-Trump extremism is not going to help them achieve those lofty goals. If Ocasio-Cortez’s victory is a harbinger of things to come on the left, the Democrats may need to get used to the idea of becoming a minority party in a two-party landscape. In other words: utterly obsolete on the national level.
“We beat a machine with a movement, and that is what we have done today,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “Working-class Americans want a clear champion and there is nothing radical about moral clarity in 2018.”
We shall see if the “moral clarity” that people like Ocasio-Cortez and the progressive left wield is really what working-class Americans want or not. Somehow, we have a feeling it isn’t.