The Biggest Lesson from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Win? Run on Democratic Socialism.

Source: In These Times

The 28-year-old Latina scored the biggest upset of 2018 by rejecting Democratic Party orthodoxy and running on a laser-focused message of economic justice. If other candidates want to win, they should follow her lead.

On Tuesday morning, just hours after unseating one of the most powerful Democrats in U.S. Congress, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez gave an interview on MSNBC’s Morning Joe in which she offered a succinct, yet compelling, rundown of her insurgent campaign’s “laser-focused” message:

“Economic, social and racial dignity for working-class Americans, especially those in Queens and the Bronx. We were very clear about our message, we were very clear about our priorities and very clear about the fact that, even if you’ve never voted before, we are talking to you.”

Clocking in just around 16 seconds, Ocasio-Cortez, a 28-year-old democratic socialist, was able to articulate a clearer and more captivating message than the entirety of the Democratic Party establishment could come up with over the course of the 2016 election. Host Mika Brzezinski acknowledged how refreshing it was to hear a Democrat speak in such straightforward terms, yet warned other candidates not to “steal her message” and to come up with their own.

However, if Democrats want to win in 2018 and beyond, then cribbing from what Ocasio-Cortez ran on in New York’s 14th District is exactly what they should be doing.

Her campaign essentially rewrote the rules of Democratic Party politics, tossing out the window the previously accepted orthodoxy that big money is the path to victory, and that outspoken socialists are too far left to win election to the U.S. Congress. And as a millennial, working-class Puerto Rican woman from the Bronx, Ocasio-Cortez proved that, in 2018, challengers from the most unlikely backgrounds are capable of toppling entrenched, machine-backed Democrats.

Her opponent, Rep. Joe Crowley, was an embodiment of a career politician, having been handed his seat in 1998 by a predecessor and for years serving as a party boss detached from the communities he was elected to represent.

He outraised Ocasio-Cortez 10-to-1, spending more than $3 million on the race, much of which came from big banks and tech giants. He had the support of dozens of elected officials including New York Sen. Chuck Schumer and Gov. Andrew Cuomo. He was seen as a contender to become the next Speaker of the House. And yet he was drubbed, losing 57-42 to an avowed democratic socialist who had never before run for office.

So what can other candidates learn from Ocasio-Cortez’s shocking victory?

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