How Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Exposes Democratic Party Failures
Previously, in Anatomy of Propaganda: Russian Election Hacking and the Migrant Crisis, I described how the liberal establishment’s obsession with Russia has been a masterclass in hypocrisy. In addition, it has been counter-productive in combatting the proto-fascist roots of the Republican Party’s power. Unfortunately, the Democratic Party has not lost the script only in this regard. Its failures are much deeper.
In a 2012 interview, when then President Obama was asked if he was a socialist, he replied,
“The truth of the matter is that my policies are so mainstream that if I had set the same policies that I had, back in the 1980s, I would be considered a moderate Republican”
He followed by noting some policies that were heavily under attack in the 1980s, in the midst of the neoliberal onslaught — initiated by President Reagan.
Today, advocating for the same policies that Obama had summarized, including, in his words, a fair tax system, helping young people go to school, making sure our government is building good roads, bridges, hospitals, airports, and making sure that someone does not go bankrupt because they get sick, would still earn one the dubious honor of being a socialist in the US. While such shrill and rabid attacks are often levied from Fox News and its ilk, today’s liberal establishment in the Democratic Party, awash in Milton Friedman’s dogma and corporate contributions, is equally disdainful of the essence of New Deal policies of the 1930s.
Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who upended 10-term incumbent Joe Crowley in New York’s 14th District, has built her platform on social, economic and political justice, congruent to the social democratic New Deal policies. Her policy proposals and recalcitrant approach have caused panic amongst Democratic Party managers, raising obvious questions about the Party’s commitment towards popular priorities, as opposed to attending to the managerial class.
Exhibit A: Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House. For our purposes, she can be considered a distillation of Democratic Party priorities. She has refused to support Medicare for All, a policy supported by 70% of Americans; but quaint constructs like democracy are of no concern here. As reported by The Intercept,
“Less than a month after Democrats — many of them running on “Medicare for All” — won back control of the House of Representatives in November, the top health policy aide to then-prospective House Speaker Nancy Pelosi met with Blue Cross Blue Shield executives and assured them that party leadership had strong reservations about single-payer health care and was more focused on lowering drug prices, according to sources familiar with the meeting.”
The intra-party opposition to elementary democratic priorities does not stop with healthcare. Ocasio-Cortez’s recently introduced Green New Deal resolution captures goals that are supported by the majority of both parties. Yet, the oft-professed bipartisan cooperation is nowhere to be found — certainly not championed by Pelosi, who recently referred to the resolution as “the Green Dream or whatever.”
Further, it would seem that the disdain for democracy is not limited to domestic forces. Pelosi also supports the U.S-backed imperialist coup in Venezuela to overthrow the democratically elected head of state Nicolas Maduro. Pelosi has not much to #resist here against a criminal Trump Administration. To the contrary, she has issued a statement supporting the Trump Administration in this blatant violation of international law. This after sanctimoniously decrying for a couple of years Russian interference in the 2016 U.S presidential elections.
Such an agenda of austerity, supporting health insurance companies and other corporate interests, and boosting U.S global hegemony cannot be hampered by inconveniences such as Ocasio-Cortez and other similar progressives.
Indeed, such inconveniences must be squashed before they fester. Some Democrats have considered primarying Ocasio-Cortez. Others are too cowardly for even that. New York Democrats have considered eliminating her district entirely in 2020. With all their bluster about democracy, supporting women and minorities, it is evidently clear that the Democrats would rather lose to Republicans than win with popular policies.
Interestingly, this opposition to Ocasio-Cortez does not extend to the Party base. Indeed, citizen liberals are falling over one another to show acceptance of a woman of color, presumably to showcase their enlightened selves. While perhaps a gratuitous claim, it can be made with some certainty, since the same liberal base rejects Bernie Sanders, who has a fairly congruent policy set.
After all, Ocasio-Cortez is a graduate of the Justice Democrats — a group that was launched as a result of Sanders’ historic 2016 primary run. It is perhaps the national rise of Sanders, one marked by his challenge to Hillary “The One” Clinton, that invites such liberal disdain. Broadly, however, it is undeniable that rifts have formed between the party managers of the Democratic Party and the democratic socialists, who support politicians such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Bernie Sanders.
The failure of the liberal establishment has resulted in the descent to proto-fascism in the country and the rise of Trump. As political analyst and historian Thomas Frank put it in Listen, Liberal,
“This is modern liberalism in action: an unregulated virtue-exchange in which representatives of one class of humanity ritually forgive the sins of another class, all of it convened and facilitated by a vast army of well-graduated American professionals, their reassuring expertise propped up by bogus social science, while the unfortunate objects of their high and noble compassion sink slowly back into a preindustrial state.”
“In its quest for prosperity, the Party of the People declared itself wholeheartedly in favor of a social theory that forthrightly exalted the rich — the all-powerful creative class. For many cities and states, this was the economic strategy; this was what our leaders came up with to revive the urban wastelands and restore the de-industrialized zones. The Democratic idea was no longer to confront privilege but to flatter privilege, to sing the praises of our tasteful new master class. True, this was all done with an eye toward rebuilding the crumbling cities where the rest of us lived and worked, but the consequences of all this “creative class” bootlicking will take a long time to wear off.”
There is only one representative party in the U.S: the Business Party. The other organization, the rogue outfit called the Republican Party, has long given up the pretense of functioning as a normal governing party. All this outfit has to offer to people is wholesale deregulation, tax scams that enrich the wealthy, austerity for the poor and a coddling nanny-state for the rich — actions against which Ocasio-Cortez and others are mounting an honest fight.
Then why the attempts by the Democratic Party to ostracize Ocasio-Cortez, despite self-professed liberal ideals such as “truth, justice, decency, freedom, equality, and democracy?” Formed during the 2016 primaries, the rift within the Democratic Party is now a chasm. Separating the donor-oriented, corporate interest championing neoliberal leadership and grassroots-fueled representatives like Ocasio-Cortez, this yawning gap is about to go tectonic in 2020.
Questions or Comments? Please reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter @ConsensusExiled.