Last June, when most Americans could agree that their country was in crisis but few could agree on what to do about it, staffers from a small organization called Justice Democrats—part of a burgeoning faction of young activists whose goal is to push the Democratic Party, and thus the entire political spectrum, to the left—joined a gathering on the patio of a restaurant in Yonkers, overlooking the Hudson. It was a breezy Tuesday night, and polls in the congressional primary had just closed. Most of the staffers hadn’t seen one another in person since COVID lockdowns began, and their hesitant enthusiasm—distant air hugs, cocktails sipped hastily between remaskings—seemed appropriate to the event, which could, at any moment, turn into either a victory party or a defeat vigil. A lectern, framed by string lights and uplit pine trees, stood empty, apart from a sign bearing their candidate’s name: Jamaal Bowman. Bowman was…

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