Democrats see progressive victories
This month, saw a revival of the progressive wing of the democrats, with victories in the primaries for multiple Congressional districts. Ever since Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib and Ayanna Presley entered the halls of Congress (informally nicknamed the ‘Squad’), they brought to the floor, progressive ideas, democratic socialist principles, and a general air of challenging the status quo at Washington. From there on, the four Congresswomen, and many others, made national headlines, with their outspoken and unapologetic stances on issues that they held dear. They have become common targets of GOP Lawmakers, but the four do not hesitate to ‘clap back’, especially Ocasio-Cortez.
Rashida Tlaib, the incumbent, from Michigan’s thirteenth district, made some such headlines. Mainstream media news companies, including the New York Times and Aljazeera, claimed that Tlaib was “on the ropes”. Tlaib has known to be outspoken, especially after her expletive claim to impeach the President. She has always been fierce on and off the floor, and people believed she would pay for that in the election. While polls and general opinion indicated that Tlaib would be the more popular choice among them, news articles begged to differ, claiming she was the most vulnerable member of the ‘Squad’ and that her election would be difficult and challenging. The actual result, however, got Tlaib nominated to the Democratic contest in a landslide with 66 (approx) % of the votes.
Another such victory was that of Cori Bush, an activist, nurse and pastor from Missouri’s first district. Cori Bush ran in 2018, and was later featured in a Netflix Documentary, as a grassroots progressives candidate. Bush unseated a 51 year incumbent dynasty in the primary on the fourth of August - William Lacy Clay and Bill Clay, getting 49% of the vote. This was an upset victory that awed journalists and politicians. Bush was an active contributor to the Black Lives Matter protests, and a COVID-19 survivor. She told CNN about the energy she brought to the protests and her campaign, and how the same energy will be brought to Congress. Another working-class candidate, Bush told CBS News: “I’m just the activist with no name, no title and no real money. But St Louis showed up today”. It’s an indication to the left-leaning of the party and the representation of the working class, a champion of which Bernie Sanders (of whose campaign Cori Bush was a surrogate) and Elizabeth Warren have always been.
Jaamal Bowman, unseated a 16-year incumbent Eliot Engel, in a victory much like that of the 2018-Joseph Crowley and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. The democratic party has lately become more concerned with protecting their incumbents, rather than opening the doors to insurgents who have a much greater chance at re-energising their base. The base, especially millennials, are in more support of progressive and new faces. The defeat of Eliot Engel was a major blow to the party, and definitely unexpected, but an affirmation of the futility in supporting “old, white and lazy” lawmakers (as quoted from an anonymous Democrat speaking to the Intercept).
The progressive Democratic base cannot be ignored any longer. With Sen. Bernie Sanders mobilising the interests and passions of a large group of people who believe in progressives, Medicare for all, Universal basic income, federal jobs and the Green New Deal, among other things; the progressives might be sweeping the country in a political revolution led by the likes of AOC and Sanders.