Joseph Biden was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1972 at the age of twenty-nine. Here in 2020, on the likely cusp of his becoming the Democratic presidential nominee, it’s hard to imagine him the same age that Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was when she won her first and only race (so far) in 2018. That each deposed a prohibitively favored, vastly better funded, and long-serving incumbent—he in the general, she in a primary that in heavily Democratic New York City essentially served as the general—marks another similarity in their political origin stories. But that’s pretty much where the similarities end. Democratic affiliation is just an unpleasantly inconvenient function of the two-party system. Ocasio-Cortez practically said as much in a January interview: “Oh God," she is reported to have moaned. "In any other country Joe Biden and I would not be in the same party, but in America, we are.”
Ocasio-Cortez, the most prominent office-holding supporter of Bernie Sanders, has already pledged to back Biden against Donald Trump should it come to that, and the hope is she might inspire her boisterously resistant compatriots to do the same. Her promise shouldn’t be all that surprising in light of her 2019 endorsement, for Speaker of the House, of another paragon of the Democratic establishment: Nancy Pelosi. Compromise for the sake of unity is a party tradition, and one she’s proven willing to embrace.