Ayanna Pressley Wins a Fight for the Soul of the Democratic Party, by John Nichols (The Nation)
An insurgent with a clear vision for a more urgent and aggressively progressive politics defeats a 10-term incumbent in Massachusetts.
Could it happen here?
There’s no way to answer this question until the evening of November 6, although what interests me about the results in 2018 are their potential for a ripple effect when our municipal election cycle occurs in 2019.
Absent hype and hyperbole, any dispassionate analysis of the local political situation would show that Democrats have a traditional bastion in the city of New Albany, and always govern very conservatively from it — far more conservatively then the left wing of the party nationally.
It’s highly analogous to Louisville’s Greg Fisher in the sense that local Democrats talk about social justice issues, all the while deploying GOP Lite economic policies that don’t threaten the oligarchic-dominated regional power structure.
As Democrats have lost ground in Floyd County and surrounding areas, this municipal power base in New Albany has taken on increasing importance. At present in their minds the outlook is not unlike the Alamo — and to mix metaphors, the projected Blue Wave this November is the cavalry on the horizon, riding to the rescue.
If this Blue Wave does not materialize in Southern Indiana on November 6, which I’m guessing would be the solid verdict of Las Vegas odds-makers, it suggests local Democrats will go to any length to maintain the current municipal status quo in 2019 — or, four more years of cautious, conservative governance with lip service to social justice issues and the time-tested patronage mechanism intact.
However, if Liz Watson were to topple Tennessee Trey, and perhaps Ron Grooms fall to Anna Murray, then there’s a slight chance the dynamic would change, with a new generation of younger, more diverse council and mayoral candidates hypothetically emboldened to emerge and get involved.
Actually they should, regardless of the fall election results.
I’m probably being over-optimistic given the soul-numbing level of apathy at the local level. At the same time, we can’t possibly be spared forever the mutation of both major political parties at the national level.
Interestingly, at this precise moment, the most progressive candidate to have expressed an “exploratory” desire to seek office in New Albany next year is Nick Vaughn.
He’s young — and Republican.
Ayanna Pressley won a historic victory Tuesday night, when she easily defeated a 10-term incumbent for the Democratic nomination in a Boston-area congressional district. A now all-but-certain November victory will send her to Washington as the first African American to represent Massachusetts in the US House of Representatives. She will carry forward an epic tradition of service to communities that sent a young John Kennedy to Congress and later elected House speaker Tip O’Neill.
By any measure, these are notable accomplishments.
Yet what makes Pressley’s 59-41 victory so truly historic has as much to do with the future direction of the national Democratic Party—and perhaps of American politics—as it does with the local politics of Boston, Cambridge, Somerville, and the rest of the seventh district in Massachusetts. Like New York Congressman Joe Crowley, who was defeated in June by 28-year-old democratic socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Massachusetts Congressman Mike Capuano, who Pressley upset Tuesday night with support from Ocasio-Cortez, was an entrenched Democratic representative with a credible voting record. Capuano was a good deal more progressive than Crowley, and more courageous on issues of consequence. But the 66-year-old Capuano still projected the image of a reasonably predictable DC Democrat.
In this volatile time, voters in Massachusetts—and in New York and in a lot of other places across the country—have been turning to candidates who are less predictable. Frustrated with old approaches that don’t seem to be working against increasingly reactionary Republicans, these voters are signaling a desire for a bolder politics that proposes a fierce fight against economic, social, and racial injustice …