The Ocasio occasion, Minnesota style

I attended the special DFL endorsing convention convened in Minneapolis on June 17 to anoint a successor to Keith Ellison. Three candidates sought the DFL endorsement, addressed the convention and responded to questions raised by the delegates. Ilhan Omar won a majority of the delegates’ votes on the first ballot. She then easily cleared the 60 percent hurdle to secure the endorsement on the second ballot with 68 percent of the votes. I reported from the convention here. MPR’s Tim Nelson had a brief report here. I tried to call national attention to what it all meant in the Weekly Standard article “The anti-Israel seat.”

To borrow Bill Buckley’s formulation, Omar was the leftward most viable candidate seeking the endorsement. She presented the full Bernie Bro catastrophe as her platform. Free college. Free health care. Everything is to be “free.” Everything is free but freedom, which is in short supply. We are to work and they are to eat. We are to toil and they are to enjoy the fruits of it. Despite the patina of outré novelty that thrills Democrats, this is old, old stuff.

Omar called several times for the abolition of ICE. It was the first time I had heard this call, although it has quickly become a staple of Democratic orthodoxy since. Throw in her patent hostility to Israel and we can see that Omar is the precursor to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the frank socialist who prevailed over Joe Crowley in New York’s June 29 Democratic primary. Stephen Miller now observes that “With Ocasio-Cortez’s rise, Dems now own their loony far-left flank.” She has become an overnight sensation.

Ocasio-Cortez has nothing on Omar. Omar has yet to win the August 14 primary, which includes more conventional DFL candidates (Margaret Kelliher and Paticia Torres-Ray) with legitimate track records. The Star Tribune fondly presents the field in Maya Rao’s gauzy-eyed report. What is interesting to me, however, is the weakness of respectable liberal Democrats (including Kelliher and Torres-Ray) in the Fifth District. They are not where it’s at. Omar is where it’s at.

Omar has a personal background that has yet to receive anything like the look it deserves. Like Ocasio-Cortez, she has become a media darling. Yet she is a most unsavory character. If the Star Tribune were to interview the DFL candidates and make an endorsement in advance of the August 14 primary, it could make a constructive contribution to understanding what is happening here. So far, the blinders remain intact. The next Congress figures to feature an Omar-Ocasio-Cortez caucus.


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