For Nancy Pelosi, 78, Steny Hoyer, 79, and Joe Biden, 75, the primary results from New York’s 14th congressional district are a fire bell in the night.
All may be swept away in the coming revolution. That is the message of the crushing defeat of 10-term incumbent Joe Crowley, who had aspired to succeed Pelosi and become speaker of the House.
The No. 4 House Democrat, Crowley, 56, had not faced primary opposition since 2004. He outspent his opponent, 28-year-old Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who was tending bar a year ago, by 10 to one.
The son of an Irish immigrant, Crowley was leader of the Queens Democratic Club. He had the unions’ support. So confident was he that he skipped a debate and sent a Latina politician to stand in for him.
First comes Hubris, the god of arrogance. Then comes Nemesis, the goddess of retribution.
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Tossing Crowley’s credentials back in his face, Ocasio-Cortez ran as a Latina, a person of color, a millennial and militant socialist who lived in her district, and painted Crowley as a white male with lots of PAC money who had moved to D.C. and sent his kids to school in Virginia.
“The Democratic Party takes working-class communities for granted; they take people of color for granted,” railed Ocasio-Cortez. The party assumes “that we’re going to turn out no matter how bland or half-stepping (their) proposals are.”
“Bland or half-stepping” are not words her agenda calls to mind.
A Democratic Socialist, endorsed by MoveOn, Black Lives Matter and People for Bernie, Ocasio-Cortez favors Medicare for all, a $15 minimum wage, 100 percent renewable energy by 2035, free tuition at public colleges, federal jobs for all who want them, and abolishing an Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency that runs “black sites” on the Mexican border where “human rights abuses are happening.”
When tear gas was used in Puerto Rico, whence her family came, Ocasio-Cortez laid it at Crowley’s feet: “You are responsible for this.”
Crowley tried gamely to keep up, declaring that ICE, for which thousands of Americans work to protect our borders, is a “fascist” organization, presumably something like Ernst Rohm’s Brown Shirts.
While the victory of Ocasio-Cortez is bad news for Pelosi and Hoyer, it may also be a harbinger of what is to come. For the Democratic Party appears about to unleash its radical left, its Maxine Waters wing, and give its ideology another run in the yard.
When the party has done this before, however, it did not end well.
After Hubert Humphrey lost narrowly in 1968, an enraged left seized the nomination for George McGovern, who went on to lose 49 states to Richard Nixon.
After Hillary Clinton’s defeat, the left, whose champion, Bernie Sanders, they believe, was robbed by the establishment, seems to be looking to settle scores and seize the nomination for one of its own.
But if an apertura a sinistra, an opening to the left, is what lies ahead for the Democratic Party, then that is better news for the party of Trump than for the party of Pelosi.
Just as Crowley’s congressional district had changed, so, too, has his party in Congress. Columnist Dana Milbank, who sees it as progress, writes, “A majority of House Democrats are … women, people of color or gay.”
These rising forces in the Democratic coalition are looking to bury the Democratic Party of yesterday, where white males and older ethnic groups â€” Irish, Italians, Poles and Jews â€” were dominant.
It seems certain now that the summer of 2020 will see a woman, a person of color, or both, on the Democratic ticket. Two whites would likely offend the rising base. Hillary Clinton and Sen. Tim Kaine may have been the last of the all-white Democratic tickets.
However, inside this emerging Democratic majority of peoples of color, fractures and fissures are already visible.
In New York City, the Asian community, which votes Democratic in presidential elections, is in an uproar over efforts by leftist Mayor Bill de Blasio to eliminate the entrance exams that have enabled Asian kids to capture most of the seats in the city’s elite public schools.
De Blasio and his allies want the Asian numbers in these select schools reduced, so the schools mirror the city’s demography, no matter how well the Asian kids are doing on the competitive admissions tests.
Also, the hard left in the Democratic Party, oriented more toward the Third World than the West, is increasingly anti-Israel. And while the Jewish vote is small and largely concentrated in blue states, among donors to the Democratic Party the Jewish contingent looms large.
The new demography of the Democratic Party brought about the defeat of Crowley. A majority white district when he first ran, the Bronx-Queens district he now represents is only one-sixth white.
The Irish and Italians have moved out or passed on. And Archie Bunker? He rests in peace in Calvary Cemetery. Like his party.
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