Last Month’s Media Narrative About the Democratic Primaries Flipped

Early on in this primary season, a political narrative developed that the establishment Democrats were winning, which meant that the insurgents were losing and the party was rejecting the Republican Tea Party model. Here’s what I wrote at the time:

Let’s first of all note that the first big wave of primaries this month all happened in states that Trump won. Similarly, the special elections that have occurred since the 2016 election have almost exclusively been held in red states and districts. It therefore stands to reason that moderate Democratic candidates have done well. As the primaries move to more predominantly blue states and districts, we are likely to see candidates prevail who embrace more liberal platforms.

All it took was one win by so-called “Democratic socialist” Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to prove me right. Now the entire narrative has flipped and a whole lot of people are freaking out that the Democratic Party is going to lose the primaries because they’ve become so extreme.

Think about that for a moment. Because of our short attention span, it can be easy to forget that the entire script has been flipped in about a month’s time. All of those “establishment” Democrats who’ve won primaries are still going to be on the ballot this November. All of the women who’ve won doing it their own way will still be on the ballot this November. And yes…Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez will join them. If she wins—which is as sure of a thing as you’ll see in politics—she’ll be one of 435 people to serve in the House of Representatives.

The media flipped its narrative on the Democratic Party because the idea that Democrats are divided is a much more interesting story than the one about establishment candidates winning. Conflict sells. So if you think that the Democratic Party feels threatened by having a young, energetic Puerto Rican woman from the Bronx join their ranks, take a look at what DNC Chair Tom Perez had to say about that.

Perez is a liberal Democrat who was born and raised in Buffalo, NY by parents who were immigrants from the Dominican Republic. In other words, he has a lot in common with Ocasio-Cortez. It should surprise no one that his daughters are excited about her win and that Perez sees young people like her as the future of the party.

This whole thing about Democrats facing some existential crisis is a story that happens to benefit both the media and Republicans. But it’s just not true. I am reminded of a wonderful passage in the book The Healing by Jonathan Odell when midwife slave Polly Shine tells her apprentice Granada that her own mother’s people in Africa were the finest weavers in the world.

“She told me the secret…what made them so fine, mother after daughter after grandaughter, all the way down the line.”

“What was it Polly?”

“She say, the difference in weavers is, some see the tangle and others see the weave. The ones that can’t take their eyes off the tangle, they never rise above it.”

Based on what I’ve seen from the Democratic women who are running for office all over this country, there is a weave being created. Don’t let anyone who can’t take their eyes off the tangle distract you from seeing that.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.