The Literal Beauty of Class-Based Politics

Bernie Sanders has won one of the most prized endorsements of the Democratic Party. This Saturday at Queensbridge Park in New York, Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, along with Ilhan Omar and Rashida Talib, are set to publicly endorse Sanders at the "Bernie's Back" rally.

The endorsement from the 'Squad' has left many conventional pundits, centrist and party insiders pondering the question, are identity politics dead? After, all how could it be that two foreign-born Muslim women and one Latino from the Bronx would endorse a 78-year-old white Jewish man from Vermont. So, it is only natural that the old guards of politics and media publicly ask the question.

So, is it true that identity politics is dead?

Yes. It is dead.

A new form of politics is coming to America, and with it, the potential to remake a political party. One that is capable of building a long-lasting political consensus that is necessary to deliver the material necessities so desperately needed by working-class Americans.

The Squad's endorsement of Bernie had nothing to do with identity. It is about policy and ideology. It is a new generation of Democratic Party politicians recognizing the power of class-based politics. A form of politics that has the potential to unite the bottom 90% of Americans. The potential to unify Americans of all different identities under common economic interests and the universal rights of human beings. Racism is real, and it is an ugly stain on our society that we must eradicate, but racism is not just the dark, disgusting underbelly of human nature. It is also a tool used by the billionaire class to keep us fighting amongst ourselves while they keep going to the bank.

A class-based movement has the potential to overcome racism and hatred by bringing different identities together and acknowledging that the only way we can truly overcome the racism and hatred of GOP Trump politics is by focusing not on our identities, but on our interests as working-class Americans.

The Republican Party is white and dominated by men. Politically, it makes sense for the Republican party to focus on identity politics. The Democratic Party, however, cannot be an identity-based party. The Democratic Party is a diverse 'big tent' party made up of many groups with many different identities and different interests. Unlike the Republican party, no single identity unites the Democratic party or Americans as a whole. What does unite all democratic party voters (and Republican party voters) are basic working-class interests and basic human rights. Nevertheless, despite the obvious impossibilities and contradictions of a democratic party based on identity politics, the old guard of political media gatekeepers are questioning whether the new 'identity' of the Democratic Party is unelectable. On Tuesday night following the news breaking that AOC and the Squad was endorsing Bernie CNN's John King asked publicly on live TV, "is the Democratic Party becoming too urban?"

Despite King's apologetic tweet saying that "urban" had nothing to do with race, everyone knows exactly what John King meant. We know this because John King would never ask if Pete Buttigieg was 'too urban' even though he is the mayor of an 'urban' city. The question that John King is really hinting at but too scared to ask directly is, are white people going to be turned off and leave the Democratic Party because they do not want to look at two Muslim women and a young Latino from the Bronx endorsing a Jewish man from rural Vermont?

If politics were only about identities, John King would probably right, the identities of Bernie and Squad might not be electable, but John King is wrong. Bernie and the Squad's politics are not about their identities. They are about unifying the economic interests and fundamental human rights of the bottom 90% of Americans under a single policy platform. The endorsement from the Squad shows that Bernie's platform can and does, in fact, unite different people, different genders, different races, and different religions under one class-based policy platform.

In addition to adopting class-based politics, these young, ambitious politicians have abandoned the politics of self-survival. As Sanders laid in his hospital bed, after receiving the news that he had suffered a heart attack, it was at that moment he received a phone call from Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez. AOC called him to tell him she was coming aboard his campaign. She came aboard his campaign at his absolute weakest moment in this campaign and maybe his political life. AOC made a decision, not based upon her political survival or her identity. AOC could have compromised and endorsed Elizabeth Warren, the new front runner, and establishment accepted choice, which would have cemented her standing and reliability within the democratic party old guard, but she did not.

Do not let anyone tell you this endorsement was not significant. Elizabeth Warren and her campaign had been coveting AOC's endorsement for months. When the news broke that AOC had committed to the Sanders campaign, Bernie staffers broke down in tears and hugged one another. This was huge. It is rare for a leading Democratic Party politician to not only endorse so early on but to sign on to campaign and hold rallies in their support. Ocasio-Cortez is the 3rd leading fundraiser in the house, and she raises that money without the support of special interests and corporate lobbyists. She draws huge crowds on the trail. The 2020 election will be the first election in which the millennial generation will outnumber the baby boomer generation, and AOC is a leader of her generation. This endorsement was a massive moment for Bernie, and it was a setback for Warren.

There could not be a more perfect group than Bernie, Omar, and Ocasio-Cortez standing together to show how different identities can be united under common class-based interests. This Saturday will be a beautiful moment in American politics, and we should embrace it as such.

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