• Monthly
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $other
  • use PayPal

ONE WEEK TO DOUBLE YOUR DONATION!

A generous CounterPuncher has offered a $25,000 matching grant. So for this week only, whatever you can donate will be doubled up to $25,000! If you have the means, please donate! If you already have done so, thank you for your support. All contributions are tax-deductible.
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

What Ocasio-Cortez’s Win Says About the Rise of the Left

You’ll be forgiven if you’ve never heard of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. This time last year, she was working as a bartender in the Bronx. Now, she just unseated a 10-term incumbent congressman previously on track to lead the Democratic Party in the House of Representatives. Amazing how much can change in a year.

Ocasio-Cortez’s victory is sending shockwaves through the Democratic Party. Should she win the general election in November, an all-but-inevitable assumption given the heavy Democratic-leaning NY-14 district, she’ll become the youngest woman ever elected to Congress.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez represents something new in national politics in the United States—a Latina millennial entering power with a bold, progressive agenda. As she stated in a campaign ad that went viral, “Women like me aren’t supposed to run for office.” She campaigned on Medicare for All, a federal jobs guarantee, and on abolishing Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Each of these are to the left of where the mainstream Democratic party is at right now.

Voters in her district responded by giving her nearly 60% of their vote, despite the mainstream news ignoring her and her opponent outspending her 18 to 1.

The playbook on how to win elections has been pretty straightforward for several decades: Raise as much money as humanly possible from whoever will give it to you, preferably in as big a check as possible; then spend it on television ads with a moderate message that’s been focus group-tested to win moderate voters, and pander just enough to your base to get them to turn out for you. (It doesn’t hurt if you also happen to be old, white, and male—the dominant demographic of Congress.)

Bernie Sanders upended this logic (although not the old, white man part) with his improbable 2016 presidential campaign, famously raising an average of $27 from small-dollar donations, turning down corporate PAC donations, and running on an unabashedly progressive message. Ocasio-Cortez has proven this was not just a flash in the pan.

Also winning in this week’s primaries was Ben Jealous, running for governor of Maryland. He beat Rushern L. Baker III, who was backed by the state’s political establishment and favored to win. Jealous played a key role in the Bernie 2016 campaign by doing outreach to black communities who’d never heard of Sanders, drawing on his experience as a former head of the NAACP.

“Our goal is to not just win an election but to build a movement,” Jealous saidat his victory party, “which will allow us to lead into law the new agenda that this state so desperately needs.”

Jealous faces a tough general election in November against incumbent Republican governor Larry Hogan. But his insurgent campaign style is unlikely to change. “Larry Hogan will lose in November,” Jealous announced, “because he is not ready to run against someone who knows how to build a true people-powered grassroots campaign.”

The victories for Ocasio-Cortez and Jealous came just a day after The New York Times published a piece titled, “Bernie Sanders Is Winning Converts. But Primary Victories Remain Elusive.” The Times piece rightfully points out that issues Sanders has championed have moved from the fringe to the mainstream since his presidential campaign.

But they were wrong, it turns out, on the primaries.

Also wrong were the Clinton supporters who made political hay out of characterizing Sanders supporters as “Bernie bros”—which is to say young, white men. A Harvard-Harris poll conducted in April 2017 showed Sanders was the most popular politician in the United States, with his highest ratings coming from people of color and women. So it’s no anomaly that Ocasio-Cortez, a Latina woman, and Ben Jealous, an African American man, are carrying the torch into high-profile general elections.

“The biggest hurdle that our communities have is cynicism—saying it’s a done deal, who cares, there’s no point to voting,” Ocasio-Cortez told volunteers in the lead-up to election day. In the face of skyrocketing economic inequality, massive tax cuts exclusively for the rich and powerful, and immigration policies that would leave any moral person appalled, it’s easy to understand where this cynicism comes from.

Nevertheless, progressive candidates ready to make change are winning elections and changing the dynamic of electoral politics. Small-dollar donations and serious on-the-ground and digital organizing are helping insurgents take back the reins of power from big money. And they’re proving voters are ready for an unapologetic leftist message.

This column originally appeared in Fortune.

More articles by:

Josh Hoxie directs the Project on Opportunity and Taxation at the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS-dc.org).

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
October 15, 2019
Victor Grossman
The Berlin Wall, Thirty Years Later
Raouf Halaby
Kurdish Massacres: One of Britain’s Many Original Sins
Robert Fisk
Trump and Erdogan have Much in Common – and the Kurds will be the Tragic Victims of Their Idiocy
Ron Jacobs
Betrayal in the Levant
Wilma Salgado
Ecuador: Lenin Moreno’s Government Sacrifices the Poor to Satisfy the IMF
Ralph Nader
The Congress Has to Draw the Line
William A. Cohn
The Don Fought the Law…
John W. Whitehead
One Man Against the Monster: John Lennon vs. the Deep State
Lara Merling – Leo Baunach
Sovereign Debt Restructuring: Not Falling Prey to Vultures
Norman Solomon
The More Joe Biden Stumbles, the More Corporate Democrats Freak Out
Jim Britell
The Problem With Partnerships and Roundtables
Howard Lisnoff
More Incitement to Violence by Trump’s Fellow Travelers
Binoy Kampmark
University Woes: the Managerial Class Gets Uppity
Joe Emersberger
Media Smears, Political Persecution Set the Stage for Austerity and the Backlash Against It in Ecuador
Thomas Mountain
Ethiopia’s Abiy Ahmed Wins Nobel Peace Prize, But It Takes Two to Make Peace
Wim Laven
Citizens Must Remove Trump From Office
October 14, 2019
Ann Robertson - Bill Leumer
Class Struggle is Still the Issue
Mike Miller
Global Climate Strike: From Protest To Power?
Patrick Cockburn
As Turkey Prepares to Slice Through Syria, the US has Cleared a New Breeding Ground for Isis
John Feffer
Trump’s Undeclared State of Emergency
Dean Baker
The Economics and Politics of Financial Transactions Taxes and Wealth Taxes
Jonah Raskin
What Evil Empire?
Nino Pagliccia
The Apotheosis of Emperors
Evaggelos Vallianatos
A Passion for Writing
Basav Sen
The Oil Despots
Brett Wilkins
‘No Friend But the Mountains’: A History of US Betrayal of the Kurds
John Kendall Hawkins
Assange: Enema of the State
Scott Owen
Truth, Justice and Life
Thomas Knapp
“The Grid” is the Problem, Not the Solution
Rob Kall
Republicans Are Going to Remove Trump Soon
Cesar Chelala
Lebanon, Dreamland
Weekend Edition
October 11, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Becky Grant
CounterPunch in Peril?
Anthony DiMaggio
Fake News in Trump’s America
Andrew Levine
Trump’s End Days
Jeffrey St. Clair
High Plains Grifter: the Life and Crimes of George W. Bush
Patrick Cockburn
Kurdish Fighters Always Feared Trump Would be a Treacherous Ally
Paul Street
On the TrumpenLeft and False Equivalence
Dave Lindorff
Sure Trump is ‘Betraying the Kurds!’ But What’s New about That?
Rob Urie
Democrats Impeach Joe Biden, Fiddle as the Planet Burns
Sam Pizzigati
Inequality is Literally Killing Us
Jill Richardson
What Life on the Margins Feels Like
Mitchell Zimmerman
IMPOTUS: Droit de seigneur at Mar-a-Lago
Robert Hunziker
Methane SOS
Lawrence Davidson
Donald Trump, the Christian Warrior
William Hartung – Mandy Smithburger
The Pentagon is Pledging to Reform Itself, Again. It Won’t.
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail