Are Joe Biden and the Democrats poised to win a sweeping victory this fall, repudiating the legacy of Donald Trump and winning control of both houses of Congress for the first time in a decade? Yes, or at least that’s how it looks right now. But don’t let that fool you: They’re still a total mess, internally divided, ideologically rudderless, committed to symbolism over substance and run by a feeble and delusional gerontocracy. Other than that, though, everything’s great. Vote blue no matter who!
We won’t get full results from last week’s Democratic primaries in New York and Kentucky for a few more days — welcome to pandemic-era elections! — but a pattern has emerged in 2020 that the high-fiving party regulars who successfully shoved the existentially vague and cipher-like Biden forward as the party’s standard-bearer didn’t see coming.
Rep. Eliot Engel, a 30-year incumbent from the Bronx who chairs the House Foreign Relations Committee — and who was endorsed by Hillary Clinton, Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi and backed with millions of super PAC dollars — appears to have been conclusively defeated by Jamaal Bowman, a Black middle-school principal endorsed by Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Sure, that’s just one race in one deep-blue district, but it was absolutely a proxy war between Pelosi and Ocasio-Cortez (whose district adjoins Engel’s to the south). Democratic leaders poured immense resources into saving this seat so they could tell AOC to stay in her lane and proclaim the left-wing insurgency defeated. At this writing, it doesn’t look like they even kept it close. The question political junkies are already asking is whether AOC is now likely to challenge Schumer for his Senate seat in 2022.