Chaskel Bennett

Maybe you heard, Congressman Jamaal Bowman is angry at AIPAC. Really angry. He had already been apoplectic about the exorbitant super-pac spending by the pro-Israel group in support of George Latimer. But after the trouncing Bowman received on Tuesday he and his surrogates have been particularly incensed and loudly blamed AIPAC for his crushing loss. In my view they are all missing the essential takeaway from this high profile race. Before we begin, some  relevant facts are important to note: 1- It is impossible to ignore the enormous amount of pro-Israel money poured into the NY16 race and AIPAC certainly deserves the lions share of accolades for recognizing the urgency of the moment and getting heavily behind a centrist Democrat with a 30 year history of winning in this specific district.  Another fact: A historic GOTV effort was made by Jewish activists under the banner of Westchester Unites and others including AIPAC and Westchester Synagogue leaders and activists to bring out the pro-Israel community. Their collective actions were consequential and extremely impactful.

Frankly speaking though, Jamaal Bowman had lost his way well before the money or activists arrived. He embraced far left positions and aligned himself with the most radical members of his party while thumbing his nose with disdain at anyone who wouldn’t get in line. He lost his constituents further  by abandoning the President’s infrastructure bill and taking the most extreme anti-Israel positions in a district that has a sizable pro-Israel and Jewish constituency. He did so with hubris and arrogance, doubling and tripling down when challenged by well meaning people both locally and beyond. When he saw himself losing in the polls he incredulously pivoted even further left, screaming, yelling and cursing like an unhinged madman against everyone who dared challenge a sitting member of Congress. He mostly aimed his ire at AIPAC but simultaneously hit the entire Jewish community and beyond.

By the embarrassing end, Bowman had missed all of the signs and messages and stubbornly called in the incendiary and polarizing Squad as well as  the progressive-in- chief Bernie Sanders to save his doomed campaign. Myopic and absurd are too mild a description to articulate these toned deaf decisions. He basically alienated everyone except his most radical base. The numbers prove it.

Was it Bowman’s sense of entitlement? Arrogance? Cluelessness? Bad advice?
I’m not exactly sure, maybe a confluence of all, but the overwhelming smackdown he received on Tuesday cannot be ignored or dismissed. Anyone foolish or defiant enough to only blame the money spent without understanding the other reasons for Bowman’s massive 18 point loss is likely more interested in political theater and spin than actually seeking a path to governance and political success. In my view, responsible leaders in the Democratic party might strongly consider getting control of the lefty bus and steering it back to moderation and normalcy. Americans want sensible policies that put their needs first not wacky over the top ideas that alienate and separate. Maybe instead of just blaming the money like sore losers do, they might listen to the voters who actually voted and ask them why they categorically rejected a sitting incumbent. Listening only to the radical noise makers is a sure path to future losses. St. Louis Congresswoman Cori Bush may be next. One can only hope.


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