United States: Grassroots socialist overcomes Democratic machine in primary

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's campaign demonstrated that the barriers thrown up by the corporate-political establishment can be overcome with a “strong grassroots movement of organisers” and a bold platform.

Overcoming a flood of corporate money and New York’s powerful establishment machine, 28-year-old democratic socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez toppled Democratic Representative Joe Crowley in New York’s 14th congressional district on June 26 with tireless grassroots organising and an ambitious progressive agenda of Medicare for All, housing as a human right, and abolishing the hated Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. The result is being hailed as the biggest political upset of 2018.

“This is a grassroots victory, this is a testament to the power of organizing, this is a testament to the power of knocking on your neighbour’s door, of picking up a phone, of believing and taking on power even though they say that it cannot be beaten,” Ocasio-Cortez, a member of the Democratic Socialists of American, said after her 15-point landslide win.

“Anything can be accomplished when we knock on our neighbour’s door and choose to believe and stand up for our values.”

With nearly every vote counted, Ocasio-Cortez defeated Crowley handily, with a margin of 57% to 42%.

“The message that we sent the world tonight is that it is not okay to put donors before your community,” Ocasio-Cortez added in her victory speech. “The message is that improved and expanded Medicare for All, healthcare for every single person in America is what we deserve as a nation.”

Having never run a political campaign before deciding to take on Crowley — a Wall Street favourite viewed by many as the likely successor of House Minority leader Nancy Pelosi — Ocasio-Cortez was virtually unknown on the national stage until a viral campaign video and progressive journalists committed to covering her efforts brought widespread attention to her working-class background and inspiring message.

Even though Crowley outraised her in funds by a 10:1 ratio and secured the endorsements of New York Democratic Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer, Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign demonstrated that the barriers thrown up by the corporate-political establishment can be overcome with a “strong grassroots movement of organisers” and a bold platform.

“He had the machine. He had the money. He had the power,” wrote the advocacy group People for Bernie. “We had the people ... Welcome to the political revolution.”

[Abridged from Common Dreams.]