I am a staunch supporter of a free press and don’t believe in ‘alternative facts.’ Today it seems too many journalists are writing their stories with a view of getting noticed and being asked to be commentators on TV. Headline writers are dreaming up clickbait headlines to attract readers. Journalism is suffering because of this.
There are still those like Bob Woodward who research their work exhaustively and can document what they write. But more and more columns are written without this exhaustive research, many because their editors are competing to be first with a scoop and stories end up just being part of what appears to be a pack mentality.
We see this in the glorification of someone like Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez whom the press deemed a super-hero of the left by apparently purposely misreading her victory in a New York congressional primary. A closer look at the District easily explains her win in a majority-minority district against an opponent who was too arrogant to mount a real campaign. The positions she took were not all that different from the votes of her opponent but she ran a good campaign. The same can be said for Ayanna Pressley in her win in a Boston district. It wasn’t the positions she took, but rather a good campaign in a district that had changed and was now younger and more diverse and those constituents rightly wanted representation that looked more like them. In Delaware, where Ocasio-Cortez and Democratic Socialists tried to install their own candidate in a Senate primary, they found the voting base hadn’t changed as much and their candidate lost to Sen. Tom Carper in a landslide.
What is happening in the Democratic Party is not a version of the Tea Party that took over the Republican Party as Paul Kane in his Washington Post column posits. The change occurring in the Democratic Party is more about age, gender and diversity than it is about policy. There was an outcry when David Hogg, a Parkland survivor, called Nancy Pelosi old. Well from his perspective she is. She could be his great-grandmother and who can honestly say they don’t consider their great-grandmother old.
The change coming to the Democratic Party and supported by many is knowing if we are to be the party of the future we need to have more women, more people of color, more representatives of the LGBTQ+ community and younger people representing the diversity of the country in leadership positions. That is what is happening in Democratic elections. These elections aren’t about being Democrats or Democratic Socialists. The huge bloc of Democratic voters, and all voters, are not Democratic Socialists and will never be. The media, which are trying to make this a fight between progressives and the far-left of the party, are getting it wrong. The party is not far left and will never be.
The goal for the Democratic Party must be to convince millennials and younger voters that voting matters. As President Obama said, “It is not enough to complain, hashtag, attend a protest rally or send out a message on FB or twitter.” All that is worthless if you don’t take the time to actually VOTE.
Democrats must also educate voters to understand what Obama meant when he said “vote for better not for perfect” and that there are only two choices when it comes to taking over the Congress: Democrat or Republican. Voting for a third-party candidate as a protest begets Donald Trump and Trump begets Gorsuch and Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court. The fight isn’t about progressive vs. far left for the Democratic Party; it is simply to get everyone to the ballot box.
Peter Rosenstein is a longtime LGBT rights and Democratic Party activist. He writes regularly for the Blade.