By Lauren Grimaldi
As Democrats push for a more progressive platform, it’s clear that more conservative members of the party are becoming increasingly less welcome. Congressman Dan Lipinski is a prime example of a Democrat whose days are numbered based on his voting record alone.
While he ultimately defeated his progressive primary challenger Marie Newman, the slim margin of this victory proves that a tide is turning. Newman, a political newcomer that sparked a strong grassroots movement in the third Congressional district of Illinois, lost by just over two thousand votes. It is certainly easy to write off this as a win for Lipinski, but when a seven-time incumbent barely fends off a challenger, it is time to take notice.
The pro-life, anti LGBT+ Lipinski is one of the last Democrats of his kind. He governs more as a conservative than he does as a liberal on social issues despite strong opposition from his constituents. He said he does not believe that his district has changed over his tenure in office, but the facts show he is completely mistaken.
Comprised of many of the near southwest suburbs and parts of the city, the third congressional district voted decisively for Bernie Sanders in the 2016 primary. Though the background of the district remains mostly white and middle class, the support that both Newman and Sanders received prove that voters are ready to shed the idea that the district is for conservative Democrats.
Lipinski will face a Holocaust denier in the general election and likely cruise to another term in office. If he cares about his duty to represent his constituency at all, he will use this close call to learn some valuable lessons. If he does not, then he will face another significant challenge in 2020 and perhaps not come out victorious.
He is clearly out of touch with his district. Lipinski vastly underestimated the number of voters that were tired of his family’s long reign in Congress. But this was more than a race about a desire to challenge his family’s legacy.
His blue-dog Democrat policies strike the average modern liberal as quite outdated. To win back trust in the district, Lipinski will need to vote along party lines in his upcoming term to salvage himself and his political future. He has made his personal stance on issues like abortion and gay marriage clear, but he represents people that do not share his same beliefs.
Given the congressman’s reaction to the opposition from Newman, it is not likely that he will align himself to his constituencies desires. The hard-headed legislator still sees himself as in the right and the people he represents as in the wrong. This primary election even made him lose support from other Illinois lawmakers who opted to endorse Newman and the grassroots movement that surrounds her.
This attitude won’t serve him well over the next two years. And frankly, Lipinski has proven he does not deserve to be a member of the Democratic party. Though the resistance against him came up just short, the underlying message is as clear as day.
Marie Newman may not have won, but she was victorious in proving that Democrats like Lipinski do not have a place in the Democratic party. Her progressive vision will carry on into the future until Lipinski is defeated once and for all. The numbers this time around may come up just short but that in of itself proves that the movement is just beginning.