Democrats are divided, devouring their own


When you think about it, it’s amazing how the Democratic Party is willing to cannibalize at almost every level — even in the face of what should be the most galvanizing monolith of opposition.

Isn’t it?

Here in the greater Riverdale area, the venerable Benjamin Franklin Reform Democratic Club is, once again, facing an opposing slate of state committee and party candidates endorsed by the rival Unity Democratic Club.

Well, almost a slate. An elections board technicality has, for the second consecutive year, derailed part of the Unity Club’s ticket.

Even so, the two clubs will battle it out in the June 25 primary to determine who will represent this part of the Bronx within the state Democratic Party, even though, in explaining their club’s origins, all this newspaper has been able to glean from Unity members in the last few weeks is a general feeling of unwelcoming within the Ben Franklin Club.

Is there hope for eventual reconciliation? Given what opposes Democrats at the national and state levels around the country, there would almost have to be.

Wouldn’t there?

Speaking of the June 25 primary, the area’s former representative in the U.S. House, Jamaal Bowman, is facing a strong challenge from Westchester County Executive George Latimer.

Bowman, still a polarizing figure here, has certainly gone his own way since upsetting the unsinkable Eliot Engel in the 2020 primary.

Bowman voted against two signature pieces of President Joe Biden’s domestic agenda and was censured by his House colleagues last December after, on Sept. 30, he pulled a Cannon House Office Building fire alarm in what Republicans decried as a delaying tactic to prevent a vote to continue funding the federal government.

Old-guard local Democrats are likely to favor Latimer, a master of retail politics who, as a state senator, would show up to things like village Christmas tree lightings around his Westchester district.

Latimer is no stranger to a political fight, either.

Now that Bowman is a known commodity, Latimer has hit him hard with near ubiquitous television and internet ads.

The Bowman-Latimer battle is not a battle for this part of the Bronx, but its participants are just as indicative of current Democratic rifts as the Ben Franklin and Unity battlers much closer to home.

Also much closer to home is our current congressman, Ritchie Torres. While not as universally divisive as Bowman, Torres’ near scorched-earth pronouncements and positions on the current war between Israel and the Hamas terrorists have been frequent and notable.

Torres also has backed up his words with empathetic action, recently visiting the site of the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks with a contingent that included prominent members of the Northwest Bronx Jewish community.

But not all members of this community see the conflict as the current Israeli government and Torres do. It’s another schism in what could be — perhaps even should be — a unifying Democratic mindset and message, given what opposes them this November.

President Biden’s opponent in this coming election has recently praised fictional serial killer Hannibal Lecter as a though he were a real person, has been found liable for sexual assault, is currently on trial for falsifying business records to keep his alleged clandestine sexual liaison with an adult-film actress a secret, and has enough felony indictments to tint the ghost of John Gotti pink.

Yet. he might win.

The MAGA virus has sapped nearly every drop of health from the GOP. But the result, whatever one thinks of it, is, for all intents and purposes, a wholly unified front.

And if democracy is truly on the ballot this November, it would seem the party with that concept baked into its name should be surging as one to meet the threat to the way we’ve governed for nearly 248 years squarely and head-on.

Maybe, after June 25, it will.

Democratic Party Riverdale politics Benjamin Franklin Reform Democratic Club Unity Democratic Club June 25 primary Jamaal Bowman George Latimer Bronx politics Democratic primary local elections party divisions political challenges Ritchie Torres Israel-Hamas conflict political rifts