‘The goal is to make the Democratic Party work for its base…’
(Lionel Parrott, Liberty Headlines) The progressive group responsible for the rise of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio–Cortez, D-NY, is seeking to replicate its success in primaries across the country this year.
When Cortez challenged longtime incumbent Rep. Joe Crowley, she was given little chance of winning. But one thing she did have was the support of the Justice Democrats, a far-left group with the goal of moving the party in the most “progressive” direction possible.
The Justice Democrats mounted an energetic campaign against a lethargic opponent who sent in a staffer to substitute for him in a debate against his 28 year-old opponent.
On Election Night, Cortez prevailed by over 13 percent.
Encouraged by her victory, the Justice Democrats have recruited candidates to run against Democratic incumbents in Massachusetts, Texas and Ohio.
The incumbents, they maintain, are far too moderate to represent their solidly blue districts—and should be replaced by bold progressives running on a platform of Medicare for All and the Green New Deal.
While tantalizing to the self-described socialists in those districts, it’s trouble for Speaker Pelosi, who has repeatedly warned her caucus that the Democratic majority in the U.S. House depends on moderate, middle-of-the-road voters—the same voters who get turned off by socialist policies.
If the Justice Democrats succeed in their efforts, the conversation within the party will get even more outside the mainstream—pushing a platform in which even radical liberals like Pelosi are considered ‘centrist’ by comparison.
The stakes are even higher now that President Donald Trump is determined to make the 2020 election a referendum on “The Squad“—four female, nonwhite Justice Democrats (including Ocasio–Cortez) who have become some of the most outspoken and controversial members of the party.
For the Justice Democrats, though, Squad members have been doing exactly what they were elected to do.
“We’re already seen how a handful of Democrats like ‘the Squad’ entering Congress has moved the center of debate on climate policy, healthcare, immigration, foreign policy and racial justice,” said Waleed Shahid, spokesman for the Justice Democrats. “The goal is to make the Democratic Party work for its base.”
While Ocasio–Cortez’s election has inspired others, defeating an incumbent member of Congress in a primary is extremely rare.
Besides Cortez, the only one to do so last year was Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., who defeated Michael Capuano, a 10-term congressman. (Pressley has since become another member of the “Squad.”)
Not that the Democratic establishment isn’t taking the threat seriously. In an effort to protect their incumbents and avoid disastrous intraparty battles, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee adopted a new policy disallowing vendors from working with candidates seeking to challenge incumbents.
Still, the challenges continue.
Shahid, the Justice Democrats spokesman, said they’re already having an impact—and win or lose, they’ll succeed in moving the party even farther to the left.
Case in point: one of the “moderate” incumbents being challenged, Rep. Eliot Engel, D-NY, had been hammered for his lack of enthusiasm when it comes to impeaching Trump.
Engel now says he supports a full impeachment inquiry. Anything to avoid falling to the next AOC.