Getting behind the new generation

Intro by Joe Courter

What we are witnessing, at least to those prepared to look, is a generation change in the Democratic party.  Being a person of that older generation, I found Ryan Grim’s article in the Washington Post, “Haunted by the Reagan era,” quite valuable, explaining the timidity of the Democratic party leadership and the bold fire of the next generation coming in.  A lot has to deal with perceptions of the power of the Reagan-era Republicans to those who lived through their reign, and the new generation shaped by Obama, with all the hope and disappointment therein. The concluding paragraphs of the article are below, but you can read the whole thing here:

“A lot of us were politicized under Obama,” Varshini Prakash, a co-founder of the Sunrise Movement, which focuses on climate change, told me. “We were like, ‘We don’t need to take control of the government, because . . . there’s this benevolent figure in the government who likes us and cares about the issues we care about, or at least says he does, and all we need to do is convince him of the right course of action.’ And that proved to be untrue.” 

Whether it was expanding the use of drones to kill militants overseas, ramping up deportations of immigrants here, coming up short on health-care reform, failing to jail a single Wall Street executive for the lending and trading practices that blew up the global financial system or declining to investigate Bush administration officials for presiding over torture, young progressives realized they’d have to fight their own party as well. 

Prakash said she was particularly stunned to learn that the Obama administration, relying on polling data, advised its green allies to discard the term “climate change” in their messaging. “Clean energy,” officials suggested, would suffice—a rubric that “clean” coal companies and natural gas producers were happy to adopt.

Ocasio-Cortez said she has seen how fear shapes senior members of her caucus and their approach to politics. 

“When it comes to defending why we don’t . . . push visionary legislation, I hear the line so frequently from senior members, ‘I want to win,’ ” she said. “But what they mean by that is, ‘I only want to introduce bills that have a 100 percent chance of passing almost unanimously.’ But for new members, what’s important isn’t just winning but fighting. I don’t care about losing in the short term, because we know we’re fighting for the long term.”

On the Friday after the midterm elections, an activist with the Sunrise Movement reached out to Ocasio-Cortez’s camp with a request. They planned to occupy Pelosi’s office the following Tuesday, demanding a commitment to push for a green-jobs guarantee. Would Ocasio-Cortez put out a supportive statement? Or perhaps even a tweet?

No, she told them. I’ll join you. But first, you need to demand more.

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