2. Liberal – but mainstream: Some have compared the insurgent wins last night to tea party victories in the GOP primaries in 2010. But unlike some of the wacky views held by GOP insurgents then (Remember Christine O’Donnell, who was “not a witch“? Remember candidates running on the gold standard?), Ocasio-Cortez and Jealous ran on platforms of health care, jobs and college for all. Those are liberal but thoroughly mainstream ideas – and a platform that most Democrats around the country will be fighting for in 2018 and beyond.
3. Part of an overall picture: Yes, the insurgents and Team Bernie had a big night last night. But if you look at the primary season as a whole, you’ve seen wins by candidates from all wings of the party. Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee-backed candidates won key primaries (against insurgents) in Texas and Arkansas; the “insiders” saved the Democrats’ chance to take back the House by an effective intervention in California’s “jungle primary.” In general, party leaders and new activist groups (such as Indivisible, Swing Left and Rise to Run) have worked well together to develop a winning plan for the fall. What is slowly emerging from this spring’s primary nights is a slate of Democrats as diverse and varied as the party itself. That’s a formula for victory.
4. Better inside the tent than outside: Finally, the biggest long-term threat to the Democratic Party is that young voters and Bernie Sanders-ites leave the party for some other alternative, or just sit the elections out. Now that the insurgent candidate have had some significant and visible wins inside the party’s primaries, that risk has been significantly lessened. They were never shut out of the system, but now they are much less likely to feel that way. Yes, they will challenge party leaders and demand change. But they will be doing that as Democrats, as party nominees – and, ultimately, as party leaders themselves. That is a great thing for Democrats.
Will Rogers famously said, “I am a member of no political organization. I’m a Democrat.” But what people forget is that he made that statement not at a time of great despair for our party, but leading up to a streak where we won five presidential elections in a row and consolidated generational control of Congress. The Democratic tent got bigger and more inclusive last night, and that’s a great thing.