End the duopoly

Cori Bush’s victory signals the return of the protester-politician

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Missouri Democratic congressional candidate Cori Bush gives her victory speech at her campaign office on August 4, 2020, in St. Louis, Missouri. Cori Bush’s stunning primary upset over Rep. William Lacy Clay Jr. in Missouri’s First District underscored a generational split that has cracked through American electoral politics.

Over the last six years, the tension between the younger Black Lives Matter generation and the historic civil rights guard has been well documented as iconoclasts like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson clashed with younger activists over everything from movement objectives and speaking time to paying for protest permits and port-a-potties .

Bush, a 44-year-old single mother, nurse, and leader in the 2014 Ferguson uprising , ousted 64-year-old, 10-term incumbent Clay in the St. Louis-area district. The bout was a rematch of the 2018 race, which Clay won by a 20-point margin. Both candidates are Black. However, Bush’s candidacy this time spoke to the moment, with her connections to a movement sweeping the nation following the killing of George Floyd and the sustained protests since the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, a city in the district.

It’s tempting to paint Bush’s victory as solely about the candidates’ differing engagement with the Black Lives […]

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