If knowledgeable political analysts who cover Capitol Hill have it right, the geezers who now run the Democratic Party in Washington had better be prepared. A new crop of young, articulate and, yes, more liberal Democrats are gaining strength and major changes soon could be coming.
"In her shocking primary upset of Nancy Pelosi’s heir apparent, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez just did Democrats a big favor," wrote Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank in this morning's paper.
By defeating veteran Rep. Joseph Crowley, (D-NY), Milbank wrote, she "clears the way for a new generation to take the reins of the opposition — leaders who appeal to the emerging electoral majority that already dominates the party and will soon dominate the country: progressive, young, female and nonwhite. It is no accident that Ocasio-Cortez, a 28-year-old Latina, is all four."
Crowley, 56, was considered the heir apparent to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), although at 78 she shows no signs of being headed into retirement. Now that's over. Crowley is toast.
A Changed Party
Milbank pointed out that a majority of House Democrats are either women, people of color or gay, and a disproportionate number of their strongest candidates in November are women, many who are young.
Of the 54 on the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s most competitive “Red to Blue” list, 19 aren’t yet 40 years old, and 26 are women. The Cook Political Report sees Democratic women outperforming Democratic men by 15 points in primaries, Milbank observed.
"Yet until Tuesday night, the party was in the absurd position of having septuagenarians occupying all three of its top leadership positions in the House — with a somewhat-less-old white guy, the 56-year-old Crowley , waiting patiently to succeed them. This created the even more ridiculous likelihood that those leading the Democrats’ legislative opposition to President Trump, a white guy from Queens, would soon be Sen. Charles E. Schumer, a white guy from Brooklyn, and Crowley, another white guy from Queens."
Milbank added: "Ocasio-Cortez saved Democrats from that and improved the odds of a younger and feistier Democratic opposition emerging. With Justice Anthony M. Kennedy’s departure from the Supreme Court, and with Trump poised to nominate the potentially deciding vote against abortion, gay rights, voting rights and gun control, the new blood is urgently needed."
Meanwhile, in The New York Times, Jonathan Martin and Sheryl Gay have a piece saying that Crowley's defeat "threw the future of the septuagenarian-led caucus into chaos, opening the door to a new generation of leadership and a push leftward."
"Rank-and-file House Democrats made clear in dozens of interviews that whether the party takes back the majority or not in November, there would be a push to depose Ms. Pelosi, the 78-year-old former speaker," they wrote. "Now, though, she could face a race from a colleague who is neither white nor male nor particularly moderate, and that could make it easier for her diversity-minded colleagues to latch on."
In my view, it's time
The nation is changing demographically and politically, and so must those who represent us in government.
The Democratic party is no different.