by Blake Andersen
The primary victory of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez represents the most recent evidence that the Democratic party will continue a move towards the left. Prior to the 2016 Democratic primary, in which Senator Bernie Sanders won several states, the idea of an openly socialist candidate simply would not stand. With the upset victory of Ocasio-Cortez over Joe Crowley, the Democrats must realize the demands of the groups who represent the so-called “coalition of the ascendant” which makes up a soon to be majority of their base. Demands such as essentially open borders, massive increases social welfare spending such as Medicare for all and a guaranteed $15/hour minimum wage pegged to inflation may become the new normal on the American political left. Interestingly, many members of the “coalition of the ascendant” also hold anti-Israel views and have ties to the BDS movement including Ocasio-Cortez. The anti-Israel BDS movement also creates cracks in the Democratic coalition that may lead to the loss of many Jewish voices in the Democratic party.
A major fear of establishment politicians in both the Republican and the Democratic parties is that candidates who were until the 2016 election considered “unelectable” can win elections. Even President Trump’s most vociferous detractors must concede that the election of Trump to the office of President acts as a metaphorical forest fire of the political establishment that will create room for new growth on both ends of the political spectrum. The people whom Ocasio-Cortez will represent have demands that will likely become part of the new platform of the Democratic party. Many establishment Democrats are uncomfortable with some of the ideas that Ocasio-Cortez and the rest of the progressive wing of the Party bring to the table because implementing policies such as free college and universal healthcare face substantial non-political obstacles such as generating funding streams for these massive government-sponsored programs.
A platform that includes essentially open borders, free college for everyone, Medicare for all, a $15/hour minimum wage and the expansion of “civil rights” while at the same time attacking the 1st and 2nd amendments represents an appealing list of ideas to many voters, yet at the same time many voters will be repulsed by such demands. Even if the socialists take over the Democratic party and then go on to control all three branches of the federal government they will face an uphill battle implementing the policies that their voters want simply because of a lack of resources. The decent-paying and high-paying jobs demanded by both the native-born population as well as the ever-increasing immigrant population may require the Democrats to ironically support some of President Trump’s agenda such as bringing back manufacturing and improving infrastructure. The Democrats will also have to contend with the fact that an ever-increasing supply of working-age people imported from foreign lands will continue to have a drastic effect on the labor market that inevitably leads to sinking wages and higher costs for housing and healthcare. Many voters will be interested in learning how the Democratic Socialists such as Ocasio-Cortez plan on financing their agenda. The solution offered by the Democratic Socialists could very well be the creation of a centrally planned command economy.
One may safely bet on Ocasio-Cortez easily winning her race against any Republican in her district this Autumn. How the establishment in the Democratic party handles this situation will shed light on their plans to hold together old alliances. At first, Ocasio-Cortez may be seen as a token representative from a district that does not contain many powerful mega-donors, however, if she makes a lot of noise and does not compromise her progressive agenda to please higher-ups in the Democratic party, then the Democrats could face an internal civil war between the old establishment and young socialists from low income urban districts. Regardless of the outcome of the 2018 midterm elections, one can be certain that the Democratic Party is moving to the left. The only question is how far to the left will the party go.