Dems Get a Memo

Rep. Joe Crowley of New York’s 14th Congressional District was apparently too busy setting up his challenge to Nancy Pelosi’s speakership to defend himself against a primary challenge, and he lost the nomination to a Bernie Sanders socialist.

Crowley, who is chairman of the Queens Democratic Party, had never faced a serious primary challenge in any of his 10 previous elections. But Ocasio-Cortez picked up steam in the 14th Congressional District by channeling progressive dissatisfaction with New York’s Democratic establishment. She tied Crowley (not unfairly) to Wall Street and real estate interests and argued that it was time for the overwhelmingly non-white district to be represented by someone like her, a Puerto Rican from the Bronx.

The Young Turks had also called Crowley a “Big Pharma favorite.” But to be fair, Crowley had signed on to “Medicare for All.” He wasn’t quite as oblivious as Nancy Pelosi. Still, there was one article that spelled our why Crowley represented what’s wrong with the Democrats. See Crowley’s loss leaves gaping void for next generation of Democratic leaders.

Crowley’s loss drew immediate comparisons to the stunning upset of Eric Cantor (R-Va.) four years ago when he was the sitting House majority leader and lost to now-Rep. Dave Brat (Va.) in the GOP primary.

But, in that instance, House Republicans had several other young lawmakers who had the standing and support to rise into top posts, including House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.), who was waiting in the wings for another year to take charge.

Crowley, 56, despite being in his 20th year in office, was considered a relative newcomer to Democratic leadership circles because the other three have been at the top since early last decade, longer than most House Democrats have even served in Congress.

There’s Nancy Pelosi, 78, the California Democrat who has served four years as speaker and is in her 12th year as minority leader; Steny H. Hoyer, 79, the Maryland Democrat who is in his 16th year serving as Pelosi’s top deputy; and James E. Clyburn, 77, the South Carolina Democrat who has been the No. 3 leader for a dozen years.  …

…Pelosi and the other 70-somethings have been in something close to a staring contest over who would retire first and open the door for one of the others to take the top reins, all while the rank-and-file Democrats grew increasingly anxious about the line of succession amid a string of election defeats and disappointments.

Crowley is younger than I am, but he’s still a balding, gray-haired, chubby white guy with little apparent charisma. If that’s the best Democrats can offer in the way of the “next generation of Democratic leaders,” this is a problem.

In social media one perpetually comes across discussions of who should be the democratic nominee in 2020, and it’s nearly always the same few names that have been around forever, like Joe Biden. I like Joe, but he’s a relic of the past at this point. Why don’t the Democrats allow young lawmakers to rise to the top posts? The Dems seriously need newer, and more diverse, faces to represent them if they are going to win the trust and loyalty of younger voters.

Did Crowley’s loss amount to a wake up call? James Hohmann wrote,

Just like loathing of Barack Obama kept Republicans united in 2014, disgust with the president will keep Democrats together going into the fall elections. But make no mistake: The party’s identity crisis will be front and center after November, especially if Nancy Pelosi steps down or gets dislodged as the leader of House Democrats. The internecine conflict could become all-consuming in the free-for-all nominating contest to take on Trump in 2020 and cause a leftward lurch that helps the president win reelection.

This is bullshit. Ossified Democratic leadership is the cause of the “identity crisis,” and if the party doesn’t start to lurch left, good luck turning the young folks out to vote. As Dylan Scott says, Maybe Democrats should stop being afraid of the left.

Anyway, congratulations to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who sounds like just what the Dems need.

Elsewhere: In a ruling even worse than the Muslim ban atrocity from yesterday, SCOTUS nixed public sector unions.

On the plus side, a judge has given Trump 15 days to reunite parents with the young children he took away from them, and 30 days to return older children.

Satellite images revealed that North Korea has been continuing to upgrade a major nuclear reactor since the Singapore Summit. What? You mean Kim lied to Trump? Who would have imagined that? No reaction from Trump yet.