EDITOR’S NOTE: Each week we cross-post an excerpt from Katrina vanden Heuvel’s column at the WashingtonPost.com. Read the full text of Katrina’s column here.
The past month has delivered a series of devastating blows to the progressive soul. In late June, in the span of 24 hours, the conservative majority on the Supreme Court upheld President Trump’s travel ban and undercut public-sector unions, the latter of which was followed almost immediately by the announcement of Justice Anthony M. Kennedy’s retirement. The onslaught of dreadful news, on top of the controversy over Trump’s cruel family-separation policy, left many feeling a sense of overwhelming despair.
Yet, as Columbia journalism and sociology professor Todd Gitlin writes, “The left has known demoralizing, mind-bending, gut-wrenching times” in the past and has endured. The past month has undoubtedly been bleak, but the same news cycle that brought terrible news from the court also delivered thrilling Democratic primary victories by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in New York’s 14th Congressional District and Ben Jealous in the Maryland gubernatorial race. And these victories are powerful evidence of the young, progressive energy that is propelling the Democratic Party—and the country—into the future.
Running on bold progressive policies, including Medicare for all, Ocasio-Cortez and Jealous, former president of the NAACP, both soundly defeated opponents backed by the party establishment. Ocasio-Cortez’s victory was particularly stunning. Most insiders didn’t view the 28-year-old democratic socialist—who had worked as a bartender prior to her campaign—as a serious threat to Representative Joseph Crowley, a 10-term incumbent who outspent her 18-to-1. Nonetheless, Ocasio-Cortez spent months knocking on doors in Queens and the Bronx with a platform that includes tuition-free college, a federal jobs guarantee, a green New Deal, abolishing Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and an unapologetic rejection of the military-industrial complex. She won by 15 percentage points.
Read the full text of Katrina’s column here.