When the dinosaurs looked up into the sky some 65 million years ago and saw that ball of fire streaking across it, did any of them wonder if they’d be around tomorrow?
Maybe the pterodactyls, with their command of the sky, warned their friends below, like the velociraptor or the brachiosaurus, or even the tyrannosaurus rex. But instead of finding a way to survive this impending doom, these dinosaurs shrugged. The Earth is still pretty new. Meteors are a way of life. You win some, you lose some, but we always survive.
Except they didn’t. Not this time. And the reign of the dinosaur ended, to be replaced by humans nearly 60 million years later.
“If history repeats itself, and the unexpected always happens,” according to George Bernard Shaw, “how incapable must man be of learning from experience.” If the famous playwright were still with us, we could probably ask if the same is true about prehistory repeating itself, because as far as the local Democratic Party is concerned, that’s exactly what’s happening.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez toppled longtime U.S. Rep. Joe Crowley in 2018, who many say was in line to become the next House Speaker. That same year, Alessandra Biaggi decisively defeated state Sen. Jeffrey Klein, who at one point was one of the highest-ranking lawmakers in Albany.
The wins by AOC and Biaggi were flukes, right? Crowley supposedly underestimated how much the national attention on Ocasio-Cortez would power her in that primary. And Biaggi was riding the anti-Trump winds from the party’s defeat in the 2016 presidential election, taking out a man who made his name partnering with the same party as the man now occupying the Oval Office.
The pterodactyls said no. But the velociraptors, and the brachiosauruses and the T-rex? They just shrugged.
But then we had just this last month. Despite his own position in the national spotlight as chair of the powerful House Foreign Affairs Committee and part of the Trump impeachment team, Eliot Engel lost to a middle school principal with no political experience named Jamaal Bowman. Not far away, Councilman Ruben Diaz Sr. — highly favored by Democrats despite not really being one — lost by a lot to fellow councilman Ritchie Torres.
The day after the primary, Assemblyman Marcos Crespo resigned not only his position as chair of the Bronx Democratic Party, but also his seat in Albany. And by this point, Bronx borough president Ruben Diaz Jr., had already withdrawn any plans of running for mayor once his current — and final — term ends.
And then there’s Jeffrey Dinowitz. A longtime Assemblyman and party leader, more recently focused on solidifying his legacy, including a push to have his son replace Andrew Cohen on the city council, standing on the outside, looking in. The political establishment he helped build is collapsing around him, candidates he’s backing aren’t winning the support of other Democrats, and his primary win over George Diaz Jr. — a man who barely campaigned — was far more competitive than it should have been.
Dinowitz isn’t shrugging the meteor of change in the sky. He won’t even acknowledge it’s there. And he’s pulling many hardworking, very good Democrats along with him. And that’s not fair to them.
We can’t always back winners, and sometimes we’ll lose. But when losses start to outnumber victory, it might be time to consider that maybe it’s not voters in general failing to understand, but that you fail to understand.
The Bronx is changing. The Democratic Party is changing. The world is changing. You can either be the meteor ensuring that change happens, or you can be the dinosaurs who refused to accept their new reality.