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This has been a tough day for me and for anyone who has a political outlook roughly in line with mine. The Supreme Court of the United States delivered one more clotheslining of reasonable social progress and protection for average, working citizens, the latest, most pointed victory of the Republican long game to preserve the existing power structure in unyielding amber. And then it got worse.
So I hold on the the shards of sunshiny hope breaking through the ominous clouds, such as last night’s joyful victory of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in a New York House seat Democratic primary that was supposed to be completely settled for the venerable incumbent. The sitting Congressman she defeated was by most measures a fine public servant (and was admirably magnanimous in defeat), but the triumph of a working class twentysomething of Latin descent feels wonderfully like a better future arriving ahead of schedule.
The major new media wants to position Ocasio-Cortez’s win as murmur of party insurrection, all the better to fit their preferred narrative of constant conflict. The Democratic nominee, bless her, isn’t having it. A campaign video, entitled “The Courage to Change,” tells the real story of her unlikely ascendency. Like other candidates who’ve scored historic wins over the course of the past year or so, Ocasio-Cortez secured her achievement by talking with, to, and for people who need their government to stand up for them. Instead of mealy, fearful caution and obsequious preservation of the status quo, Ocasio-Cortez spoke movingly about who she was and how she would use her own history as moral touchstone to do better for the average citizenry.
Politically, by my reckoning, today was a rotten day. I still believe there are blessedly different times ahead. If the message of people like Ocasio-Cortez prevails, the dire circumstances of now just might stir a brighter, bolder, more naturally empathetic generation to a level of engagement that will finally, permanently transform our society for the better.