Image: Office of Senator Kamala Harris
OBAMA GAVE THE Democrats hope; he invigorated the masses, enthused the onlooker and became a beacon of hope for something new and exciting. Ten years on, fresh faces are lighting up DC and they are beginning to spark that same hope. They are beginning to enthuse the onlooker. They want to win; from Ocasio-Cortez to Booker and Harris to Warren, the Democrats are serious about 2020 and serious about the Hill.Two years ago, on a sullen morning, the results of the 2016 presidential election reverberated across the globe. Many were shocked, dumbfounded and bewildered at the outcome. However unusual it was, it was a victory nonetheless and forced the Democrats to look inwards. What went wrong with their campaign?
The establishment connotations of Clinton were enough to put people off voting for her, but the complexion of the Democrats has changed significantly since that cold November morning in 2016. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez the firebrand, social media star, fresh-woman Congresswoman has rejuvenated the left. Her rise to DC fame has impassioned the youth and has already propelled her to a hallmark position within the party. Her humble background gives her authenticity; she can speak for those who felt Clinton didn’t connect with them. She is tenacious, fierce and is breathing new life into the Sanders style of socialism. While she isn’t a contender for the 2020 presidential ticket, her voice in Congress will echo across Washington.Despite this unprecedented rise and fame, AOC has attracted critics from the Democrats such as Rep. Cleaver of Montana who has sighted the open lambasting of her colleagues as something which is dangerous for party unity. A fresh-woman member of the House has not caused such a stir in generations and this can only be because the old guard of both sides feel she represents a change to the status quo. The grievances held by certain Democrats over AOC’s attitude to-wards them could be a thorn in the side of a successful congressional session. If they want more accessible education, universal healthcare and to tackle the Trump administration, the Democrats will have to be on form. AOC will play a role in this, one way or another.
Then we have Kamala Harris, labelled by theGuardian as the “Darling of the Democrats” but she is much more than that. From San Francisco District Attorney’s office to the Senate floor, she has had an established career in the public eye. Competent and determined, her relaxed character creates the perfect paradox for California’s leading presidential hopeful. Her abilities are unquestionable, as evidenced by her performance on the Judiciary Committee. The question remains, though: Harris has only been a Senator for two years, so will her experience be a downfall to a successful presidential campaign? Can she reach out to the people in the rust belt states that swung to Trump? Only time will tell.These are just two of the trail-blazing politicians lighting the way for a blue wave come 2020. With polling from the Washington Post recently showing that 56 per cent of voters will definitely not vote for Trump in 2020, there is a consider-able vacuum of disenfranchised voters that may turn to the authenticity of AOC and the competency of Harris.
The Democrats have the capacity to surmount a challenge - strategy and policy will be key. Coherence will be imperative; tenacity will be indispensable. Pelosi’s tough stance over the government shutdown is the beginning of what looks to be a successful tenure as Speaker. Main-stays of the party, Biden, Blumenthal, Schiff and Pelosi all need to maintain stability and keep the ship steering in the right direction. They need to work with AOC, Omar and all the other newcomers, not rally against them.Harnessing the vote is key. Obama was able to reach out and engage. He gave the Democrats hope. AOC and Harris are poster politicians for a re-invigoration of that hope and they are amassing the political capital and political nuance to be the opposition needed to rebuke the Trump team.