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No more ‘wait your turn’ politics

7/13/2018, 5:19 p.m.
I’ve never met Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a 28-year old New York activist, but I am surely looking forward to it. This ...

In Boston, City Councilor Ayanna Pressley has challenged incumbent Democratic Congressman Mike Capuano for his seat. Rep. Capuano has used the power of his incumbency to persuade members of the Congressional Black Caucus, including civil rights icon Congressman John Lewis, to support him, a colleague, instead of Councilor Pressley. If some of the CBC representatives spent time with Ms. Pressley, they’d like her and wish they had someone with her passion as a colleague. But Rep. Capuano thinks his seniority — he has only been in office five years — should be persuasive and dismissed Ms. Pressley’s candidacy by telling the Boston Globe “if we decide to send junior people, good luck.” 

His rank will yield his a key subcommittee chairmanship in Congress if Democrats can take back the U.S. House of Representatives. Or if Democrats win the House, it will put Ms. Pressley in line to be a committee chair just a few years from now.

Younger, more progressive Democrats like Ms. Ocasio-Cortez and Ms. Pressley aren’t trying to “wait their turn.” They are trying to turn our country around. The Democratic Party ought to look at these candidacies as a second wake-up call.  The first happened when Sen. Sanders nearly beat Ms. Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination and lit a fire among young change agents that won’t be contained by the power of incumbency or the condescending rhetoric that folks should “wait their turn.”

The writer is an economist and author.