The Curious Case of Eliot Engel.

Why does a single democrat care if he keeps his congressional seat?

Lauren Elizabeth
Jun 17, 2020 · 4 min read
Representative Eliot Engel of New York, via Erin Scott/Reuters

With everything that has devolved over the past few months here in the United States, it might be difficult to care about the fact that there are still a number of primaries coming up before the November election in the fall. But even in the midst of a pandemic, economic crisis, and the largest civil rights movement in modern history, the campaign taking place in New York’s sixteenth district between Representative Eliot Engel and his progressive challenger Jamaal Bowman has still managed to garner national attention.

Over the past couple of weeks in particular, Representative Engel’s bid for re-election has frankly turned in to nothing less than a laughing stock. Naturally, it’s also become an indictment on the state of the democratic party as well.

Representative Engel made national news after being caught on a hot mic at a Black Lives Matter protest trying to address the people after months of not even being in his district, when he could be heard stating that if he didn’t have a primary, he wouldn’t care.

“If I didn’t have a primary, I wouldn’t care.”

Eliot Engel — it’s certainly worth noting — is 73 years old. He has been in congress for over 30 years. If he doesn’t care, why doesn’t he just retire? If he has no interest in actually representing the people of his district, then why doesn’t he quietly retreat to the comfortable office of a lobbying firm and cash in on the corruption like so many of his colleagues? Why not let someone actually interested in advocating for the people in their community take the reins?

Representative Engel, as the Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, is interested in nothing more than sustaining his grip on power, and a number of prominent members of the democratic party along with fellow lawmakers are determined to do their part to ensure that he keeps it.

Should any of us really be surprised that in her first House primary endorsement of the entire 2020 election cycle, Hillary Clinton endorsed Eliot Engel even after his now infamous remarks? Why? Perhaps because she sees his primary challenger Jamaal Bowman as reminiscent of AOC, the “squad”, and the Bernie Sanders Our Revolution movement at large that she’s long despised. But of course, she isn’t alone in her decision to endorse.

Emily Jacobs with the New York Post writes:

Representatives Hakeem Jeffries, Maxime Waters, and New York Queens Party boss Greg Meeks also endorsed Engel.

Curious that Engel has no problem accepting these endorsements, after he made a point of declaring that Alexandria Ocasio Cortez’s endorsement of Jamaal Bowman likened her to a dictator trying to anoint his opponent. The fact that any sitting politician would think it’s smart politics let alone the right thing to endorse a candidate like Engel says as much about the democratic party as it does about him.

They just cannot stand to be held accountable.

With her victory in 2018 that unseated the 4th most powerful democrat in the House of Representatives, AOC undeniably sent a message. A message that they did not appreciate and will not tolerate again, particularly in their stronghold of a city like New York. An endorsement of a man like Eliot Engel is nothing less than a “ we hear you loud and clear, and we do not care”.

For years now, I’ve heard constantly that being opposed to “vote blue no matter who” is a position of privilege, because far too many people cannot afford four more years of Trump. But what about the people who cannot afford years more of a politician like Eliot Engel telling them that they just do not care? What about the people who will die without the Medicare for All that Joe Biden has already declared he will veto if it comes to his desk? Engel is just a further indication of everything wrong with the democratic party, and his colleagues who endorsed him are simply case in point.

Dialogue & Discourse

News and ideas worthy of discourse.

Lauren Elizabeth

Written by

Lauren is a writer & leftist with analysis on topics related to politics & policy. She can be reached at LaurenMartinchek@gmail.com or Twitter @xlauren_mx

Dialogue & Discourse

News and ideas worthy of discourse. Fundamentally informative and intelligently analytical.

Lauren Elizabeth

Written by

Lauren is a writer & leftist with analysis on topics related to politics & policy. She can be reached at LaurenMartinchek@gmail.com or Twitter @xlauren_mx

Dialogue & Discourse

News and ideas worthy of discourse. Fundamentally informative and intelligently analytical.

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