Bring On The Squad

Cori Bush shares picture of expanded 'Squad'
From left: Rashida Tlaib (Detroit), Ilhan Omar (Minneapolis) Jamaal Bowman (NYC) Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NYC) Ayanna Pressley (Boston) Picture from @Cori Bush

I copied this @AOC statement from a twitter thread by Magdi Semrau (@magi_jay) where she argues that the Democrats need to make better use of AOC and other members of The Squad during political campaigns. Ocasio-Cortez complains about her and members of The Squad being completely shut out by Democratic campaigns “as just a uniform liability” rather than being a resource of any kind. Ocasio-Cortez herself was so marginalized that she wasn’t even asked to send an email to her own list.

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Magdi Semrau suggests there are circumstances under which Ocasio-Cortez and other members of the Squad could be usefully deployed to promote the Democratic Party among college students and young constituencies.

I do think [AOC] has a skill set & an ideology that appeals to a very specific set of people: namely, non-voting/sporadic-voting progressive college students. If she’s up for it, I think there are ways to utilize that skill set.

Agreed! And I especially agree with the idea of the Democrats having Ocasio-Cortez and other members of the Squad visit college campuses on a regular basis and “encourage voting.”

But I think there’s more justification than Semrau indicates on twitter. Several points.

  1. AOC is Very Good. Ocasio-Cortez is grounded in her positions, sharp, funny, and willing to engage across the political spectrum. She has first hand experience of GOP bigotry and violence and is an ideal person for communicating Democratic perspectives.
  2. Other Squad members. Rashida Tlaib, Cori Bush, Jamaal Bowman, Ilhan Omar, and Ayanna Pressley are all very good as well. They’re all tv regulars and have had to handle criticism. Given her drive and spirited personality, I think Tlaib has the most potential but they’re all good and would stand up well to debate and disagreement in campus settings.
  3. All Dems Now. Despite voting against the Bipartisan Infrastructure Plan, the Squad is operating within a Democratic Party framework and were much better Party citizens during the House infrastructure debates than the moderates. The Squad deferred to Pramila Jayapal as the head of the Progressive Caucus and Nancy Pelosi as Speaker and refused to undercut the legislation despite voting “no.”
  4. It’s Needed: AOC and others emphasize the problems posed by low youth turnout, but there’s also a big opportunity. 65% of 18-24’s and 54% of 25-29’s voted for Joe Biden in 2020 with a 50% overall youth turnout. Raising turnout numbers among among the 18-29 group to the 66% level of the population as a whole is one of the easier paths the Democrats have to improving their electoral position. Having AOC, the Squad and other Democratic figures circulating among young voters on a regular basis can be a a big electoral help and the Democrats need to put real resources into the effort.
  5. The GOP. Conservatives are already doing this. Well-funded groups like Turning Point USA, Young Americans for Freedom, Campus Crusade for Christ are active on college campuses. Conservative megachurches have full-time youth outreach operations that target kids at early ages. The right believes in full-time, multipronged outreach and much of it is billionaire funded. Democrats need to step up with something like equivalent funding for their own outreach.

In my recent “Do More With Rural Dems” post, I discussed some of the things the Democratic Party could do to scratch for votes in rural areas like my region of Eastern Kentucky. It would also help the Democrats to send people out to colleges like Morehead State University on a regular basis.

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