Joe Crowley lost the Democrat primary by double digits to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in New York's 14th Congressional district, a shocking defeat for the neoliberal Establishment of the party. The 20-year incumbent, head of the local political machine, chair of the House Democratic Caucus in Washington, and supposedly the next Speaker of the House if they took back that chamber in November, got a decisive heave-ho from voters.
Taking his place is a 28 year-old who had never even competed for office before, and who ran her ragtag operation on small donations. She triumphed by offering a populist / socialist platform that, in the Bernie era, is beginning to sweep away the neoliberalism-lite option that had been the opposition party's only path to victory during the Reagan era, already in its twilight phase under Trump.
On a personal level, she comes across as a normal, wholesome, authentic human being, rather than the typical politician who is a manufactured brown-nosing degenerate. She is warm, nurturing, soothing, and feminine -- as though she is only reluctantly wading into cut-throat politics out of last-resort maternal instinct, like a mama bear who sees her cubs being threatened. Totally unlike the over-weening ambition of the typical "woman in politics" during the neoliberal era, who are self-absorbed strivers without a nurturing bone in their sociopathic bodies -- Hillary Clinton, Nikki Haley, etc.
Thus, the Bernie movement is not winning elections by running caricatures of their old hardcore base -- who has bluest hair, who has the craziest eyes, who has the most bitter cat-lady voice, the most wine-mommy set of "interests". They're appealing to normal people who don't binge-watch MSNBC, as they have more urgent material concerns than "The Pentagon should nuke North Korea to prevent Trump from normalizing Kim Jong-un," or whatever Rachel Maddow, and her panel packed with spooks and Feds, is psychotically ranting about this week to her freak-faced audience of Clinton cultists.
The upset victory for Ocasio-Cortez marks the further erosion of power held by the Me Generation -- the Silents and the Boomers -- as Gen X-ers and Millennials reject individualism for collectivism, and reject laissez-faire for regulating chaos. The upwards-failing Boomers have seized too much of society's resources for themselves, while the downwardly mobile Millennials have never had anything of their own to begin with.
The Boomers represented the initial stage of the over-production of elites, where a handful of aspiring elites could be the first in their family to get credentialed at college, and through sheer hyper-competitiveness, push out the socially harmonious Greatest Generation above them. By this late stage, aspiring elites are so over-produced that not even a fraction of them will actually attain elite status, no matter how hyper-competitive they have acted for their whole lives.
Unlike Boomer aspiring elites who faced the Greatest Generation incumbents, Millennial aspiring elites are trying to push out an incumbent generation that has always been hostile, defensive, and status-striving. The longer that the Boomers continue to clog the arteries of basic social mobility over the lifespan, the more that the Millennials will figure that it's too late for minor measures like statins, but time for radical open-heart surgery to clear out the plaque directly.
That means Ocasio-Cortez is not like David Brat, the neophyte Republican who primaried a senior-ranking Congressman, Eric Cantor, in 2014. Brat was not a re-aligner, but a standard libertarian of the Reaganite era, just like Cantor, but who promised a harder line on immigration, which is a common promise among GOP Congressmen.
Ocasio-Cortez ran on an anti-Reaganite platform, unlike the vast majority of Democrats who have enjoyed incumbency during the Reagan era. And extending Medicare to cover everybody, along with the other Bernie-style policies, is not a widespread view at the moment among elected Democrats. She is a re-aligner within her party (and in fact she belongs to the Democratic Socialists of America).
If anything, the comparison would be to Trump, who also ran and won on an orthodoxy-shifting platform. But Trump is completely alone among his party, who, as the founders of the Reaganite system, have the most invested in keeping it humming along. There is no broader shift within the GOP toward economic protectionism, anti-interventionism, and leaving the social safety net in place. They do not exist at even the candidate level, let alone primary winner or elected official.
In contrast, tonight's winning Bernie candidate joins many others thus far into the 2018 primaries, and many more in the coming years -- not to mention a handful of currently serving Democrats. As in New York, Pennsylvania saw several Bernie-approved or outright socialist candidates win their primaries in safe Democrat districts. There are scores more who will at least compete in races, whether or not they win.
So unlike Trump, who is utterly isolated in his party regarding his unorthodox policies, the Bernie people all have each other, and their numbers keep growing. Trump will not be a re-aligning figure, lacking anyone else to join his coalition, whereas Bernie or someone like that will have no trouble steering the society in a new direction, as they will have a great big support network of fellow travelers -- including some incumbents who choose to re-align themselves rather than get driven out of office.
"Great Men" do not shape history except to the extent that they are leading a broad and cohesive group. Trump, in his anti-Reaganite stances, is leading absolutely no one else within the GOP, and will not shape history. That role will belong to whoever becomes the leader of the upcoming Bernie revolution.