The Massachusetts Primary for the United States Senate was watched by the entire United States, as political “prince” Joe Kennedy took on a longstanding incumbent in the form of Ed Markey. While both had relatively progressive platforms that matched the progressive nature of Massachusetts Politics, they presented themselves in stark contrast throughout the campaign season. Although Markey won the race, the challenge of Joe Kennedy presented a rift between the Democratic Party. This rift is between the more establishment wing of the party as represented by Kennedy and the progressive wing represented by Markey. This divide may lead to the United States creating a new party as an extension from the Democratic Party, which may call itself the Democratic-Socialist Party.
Markey is a long-serving liberal who has represented the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for an extremely long time. As NPR reported, “Markey's victory means the 74 year old incumbent, who became a Massachusetts congressman before the 39 year old Kennedy was born...” (1) Markey’s longstanding incumbency in not only the U.S. Senate but also Massachusetts politics make him a mainstay in United States politics. His familiarity with Massachusetts residents makes him a popular candidate with both working-class families as well as urban voters.
Interestingly enough, although Markey is a long-serving Democrat in the U.S. Senate, Kennedy and Markey were endorsed by some high profile Democratic party officials. As Boston Magazine reports, “For Markey, earning support from the likes of Elizabeth Warren helps him identify himself as the more progressive candidate in the contest, while emphasizing his ties to 30 year old Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and co-authorship of the Green New Deal helps deflate the pitch from Kennedy that the incumbent is too old and entrenched to represent the interests of young voters.” (2) Kennedy also received strong support from Democratic officials. The Boston Magazine reports, “In August, the race saw yet another headline-grabbing endorsement: A late-coming show of support for Kennedy from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi…” This high profile endorsements as well as the contentious nature of this race made it national news as Markey beat Kennedy with Edward Markey 55.4 percent percent of the vote with 766,134 votes compared to Kennedy’s 44.6 percent with 617,061 votes.
The ramifications of this race spell trouble for the future stability of the Democratic Party. As I mentioned previously, there is a strong divide within the Democratic Party at the current moment. The Progressive wing led by individuals such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is coming at odds with the more traditional neoliberal wing of the party. This divide may spell trouble as the Democratic-Socialists may move to create a new party to better align with their ideology. This split may weaken the overall Democratic Party which may lead to Republican dominance if national elections.
Moving forward, the Democratic Party must do more to ensure popular incumbents aren’t challenged. If they are challenged, this may lead to instability both within the voter base as well as disunity within the Democratic establishment. The Democratic Party must listen to the will of its voters. And at the current moment, the young voter base of the Democratic Party leans highly progressive. If the Democratic Party refuses to listen to its progressive base, as it did with the disenfranchising of Bernie Sanders, two elections in a row, the Democratic Party may find itself climbing an uphill battle, as more and more voters become sick of establishment politics.