Are there Democrats who don't like AOC

| A red morning in America

The unexpected election victory of the democratic socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in New York shows that Bernie Sanders was not a statistical outlier. On the contrary: socialism is a growing trend in US society that established politics can no longer ignore.

Most of what you hear from the United States these days is terrifying. Children are separated from their parents on the Mexican border and interned in converted, empty Wal-Mart stores; the supreme court of the country is abolishing another institutional pillar of the trade unions, paving the way for further attacks on their already precarious structures and possibly the end of the trade union movement as it existed up to now. To top it off, the president of the world's most powerful country is none other than the failed real estate shark Donald J. Trump - a monstrous creation of the late US empire, a hallucinatory Mussolini for the Midwest.

The situation is less than rosy to say the least, and it is likely to get worse before it changes for the better. But as elsewhere in the world, the aggravated social situation leads not only to a polarization from the right, but also from the left. Beneath the surface of the American nightmare there are glimmers of hope and indications that the old rules of the game no longer apply not only to the Republicans, but also to the Democrats. After all, it was only two years ago that Bernie Sander's message of “democratic socialism” excited millions and brought the long tabooed “S-word” back into everyday political life. These millions of people did not disappear after the election, but have tended to increase. They form the basis for a little bit of political hope. Since Tuesday this week, this hope has been called Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

"Until a year ago she was still working as a waitress"

With Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, born in 1989, who defeated her established and powerful opponent, Joseph Crowley, on June 26th in a primary election for the House of Representatives, the USA gets to know a new political face. And one that is a novelty in many ways: Ocasio-Cortez is young (she will be the youngest member of the House of Representatives in history), daughter of a Puerto Rican migrant from the proletarian and migrant New York Bronx and still had until a year ago worked as a waitress. She received almost no support from the Democratic Establishment, only spent a tenth as much money on her election campaign as her opponent and was written off as a hopeless left-wing outsider.

So the surprise for the skeptics was all the greater when the first results rolled in and Ocasio-Cortez's clear victory became clear: she won the area code with 57 to 42 percent and is in this electoral district, in which the Democrats regularly over 80 percent of the Get votes, be sure to join the House of Representatives in the November elections.

Challenger @ Ocasio2018 toppled one of the top Democrats in Congress, @repjoecrowley, Tuesday night in their primary in the 14th District. The victory stunned even her, live on our channel. # NY1Politicst.co / fnK1O0baczpic.twitter.com / RjuqHJpn1p

- Spectrum News NY1 (@ NY1) June 27, 2018

The very fact that an established Democrat like Crowley, who has already served 10 terms in Washington and flirted with the faction chair, could be defeated is a minor political earthquake in the encrusted US electoral system. As a rule, over 90 percent of the incumbents are re-elected. In general, voter turnout in the US is falling and both parties have powerful, highly opaque financing structures that give party headquarters extensive control over party politics. Complex, often restrictive electoral laws and the astronomical sums of money required by the modern American election campaign (her opponent Crowley spent nearly $ 3 million on his campaign) make the outlook for outsiders even bleak.

Making Socialism Great Again

But that has been the case in the USA since 2016 at the latest politics as usual over and Ocasio-Cortez ’campaign managed to win a majority of the democratic electorate on their side with bold social demands and a declaration of war on the city's elite. Their victory is the latest evidence that US socialists can win elections - at least if they run as Democrats. This opens up exciting new opportunities as well as serious strategic questions.

It is an eternal dilemma for left forces in the USA: On the one hand, the American party system is so dysfunctional, undemocratic and firmly in the grip of the 1 percent that change from outside seems almost more likely than from within. On the other hand, elections are still the central political arena in the eyes of the majority. They are the place where political escalation is currently taking place - both on the left and on the right, and mostly within the structures of the Democrats and Republicans.

After decades of failed attempts to challenge the Democrats from the left with independent candidates and thus at least question the hegemony of the neoliberals, Sanders' fight for the presidential candidacy has shown how deep the dissatisfaction of the democratic voter base is and what hitherto unthinkable political possibilities result from it.

"This choice is about people vs. money: we have the people, they have the money"

It is both a blessing and a curse: neither Sanders nor Ocasio-Cortez would have been possible outside the structures of the Democratic Party. With their successes, the coordinates of the politically imaginable in the American public have expanded considerably to the left and made a modest but not insignificant part of the population socialists. Since at least one more socialist voice will sit in Washington from November onwards, one can safely assume that the charisma gained will inspire more American women for socialism.

But whether a handful (admittedly spectacular) election campaigns can be translated into permanent organized structures remains to be seen. There are more than enough examples of failed attempts to establish a left wing within the Democrats - but nothing better seems to be on offer at the moment.

Ocasio-Cortez himself is a member of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), a late branch of the Socialist Party of America, which was dissolved in 1972. The DSA has quadrupled its membership since Trump was elected - over 1,000 people entered the day after the election, bringing the total to over 40,000. The organization operates a variant of the so-called “inside / outside” strategy, which states that socialists should appear as democrats in elections where necessary in order to establish a socialist pole. Whether an independent socialist party to the left of the Democrats should form the long-term goal of this strategy is a matter of dispute within the organization. What is undisputed, however, is the fact that it just seems to be working.

New class politics? Just do it

We also owe candidates like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez a helpful contribution to the controversy about whether “classical” social demands can be combined with so-called “identity-political” issues by simply doing it. Rhetorically, she conjures up a hopeful vision for the future based on general values ​​such as a dignified life for all. She addresses life's problems in clear language that is unusual for US women politicians, and underpins this with popular demands such as public health care for all (a central aspect of her campaign) and the right to housing and work.

Like Bernie Sanders, she does not stop at her demands, but points out which social forces are currently standing in the way of this hopeful future. As someone who had her political experience as a grassroots activist outside the institutions, she emphasizes the power of the many over the rich few and the need for them to organize. Your election spot, which has meanwhile been viewed almost 400,000 times on Facebook, exaggerates the matter in an exemplary way: "This election is about people vs. money: we have the people, they have the money."

Unlike Sanders, Ocasio-Cortez is not a 76-year-old white man. Her rhetoric integrates her identity as Latina and woman into a narrative that is inseparable from her social position as a worker. These aspects of her life are not juxtaposed, but brought together, both in her biographical narrative and in her election program. The focus is on social demands. Not because they are more important than questions of structural societal disadvantage or discrimination, but because they are the basis on which real freedom could be achieved for all. This programmatic orientation in no way prevents her from speaking openly about her own life experiences as a Latina, from discussing racially motivated police violence or the abolition of the draconian US migration authority "ICE", which is responsible for the latest horror scenes along the Mexican border , to promote.

And why not? As she recently said in an interview in the increasingly political Vogue Magazine, socialism is the logical consequence of her experience as an activist in New York. In the course of other campaigns in her city she came to the conclusion that socialism complements and connects these questions: “There is no other force, no other party, no other real ideology at the moment that demands the minimal elements necessary for one dignified American life. ”For them, economic justice is not a separate issue from many others, but in capitalism it is“ intrinsically and inseparably ”linked to all others.

Critics may object that such a candidacy may work in a highly multicultural area like the Bronx or Queens, but not on a large scale, and certainly not in conservative regions, where Democrats tend to turn right if they stay in power want to prevent worse from happening. In any case, this is the preferred statement of leading figures in the party such as MP Nancy Pelosi, who to this day refuse to speak out in favor of public health care. But even in the more conservative state of Virginia, there has been an avowed socialist and DSA member in the House of Representatives since 2017. It's just tiny, delicate plants, but in the midst of the horror of the Trump presidency, things seem to be turning for the better in the United States. In any case, the opponents of American socialism are slowly starting to fear:

 

This article first appeared in the online magazine ada.