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Wake up, Democrats!

Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam
You'd think that after Hillary Clinton's shocking defeat in 2016, owing in some part to a lack of support by disaffected Democrats, that in Virginia we wouldn't have many good Democrats threatening to turn their backs on the campaign of Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam … simply because they can't agree with him on every issue.

Wake up, Democrats!

Without the possibility of facing a Northam veto the trendy Republicans in the General Assembly will stampede to the right. The far right. Even the alt-right.

An Ed Gillespie victory on November 7 would stoke President Donald Trump's momentum and embolden his obnoxious fans. Yes, picture Trump's most obstreperous devotees even more emboldened than they are now.


When Northam talks about Confederate monuments he should avoid sounding like just another guy jumping on a bandwagon. There's probably no smart reason for any Democratic candidates in 2017 to make the suddenly-complicated Confederate memorials issue central to their campaign. Right now, it cuts in too many different directions.

For Northam, saying he'd personally rather see Confederate memorials displayed in museums or other special places that provide context is smart. It avoids striking an angry pose. Adding that the decisions about such matters should probably be made at the local level sounds plain and reasonable.

Note: I'd love to see a citywide referendum in Richmond on whether or not to 86 the Jefferson Davis memorial on Monument Avenue. It's a graffiti magnet and that's not likely to stop.

Furthermore, Northam should say it's not a governor's place to tell any Virginians what they ought to think of the monuments, but it is a governor's duty to facilitate the airing out of the genuine history that surrounds those artifacts. 


Democratic candidates in Virginia and elsewhere need to avoid using too many national talking points, crafted by flacks who listened with one ear to focus groups. Such rhetoric/copy sounds so processed and boring in 2017. Each campaign needs to be tailor-made to its district or state. Yes, it's more work. Don't be lazy.

Democrats, in general, should not take on the white supremacists as their national enemy, Candidates should fight each campaign for it own issues. No doubt, that will sometimes entail denouncing an opponent as an alt-right tool. 

If it's true, say it. However, to take on the whole movement as an opponent, head-on, promotes what is still a fringe phenomenon that's trying to grow itself. Why help it? Better to let surrogates and pundits address the puny but blustery alt-right movement directly.

Note: When I say “puny” I don't mean the white nationalists, et al, aren't dangerous. They are.


The Democratic Party ought to be the party that says it's OK for NFL players to take a knee during the pre-game National Anthem. It should be the party that says the players' cause is righteous – not intended to be disrespectful to the military, etc. Good Democrats ought to affirm that the gesture itself is about calling for justice. On top of that it does no harm ... unless you're looking to take offense.

That said, the Democratic Party cannot be the party that says every player must take a knee. It can't be the party that condemns people who object to the taking-a-knee gesture. The folks who don't support the protesting players are just as entitled to speak out as anyone else.

Fighting Trumpism with ideology is a mistake. Democrats should be about seeing through the fog of propaganda – seeing reality, seeing the truth. 

Democratic candidates should promise that a properly-run government will be careful with its words and its deeds, that such a government will live up to its promises. Democrats ought to pledge to work for social justice and the commonweal.

Going forward, for Democrats to win more elections they must stop insulting everyone who won't identify as a liberal, or a progressive. Face it, we are living in post-ideology times. What we need in 2017 is an honest, competent government. In anxious times, we need calmness.


Over the last few years trust in America's institutions seems to have been withering at an alarming rate, which has stimulated a thirst for authenticity. Memorably, the cover of the April 3, 2017, issue of TIME posed the question: “Is truth dead?”

TIME's question seemed to be about current events. We were just ten weeks into the Trump presidency; the question seemed to have been prompted in great part by the fake news charges and controversies that had been orbiting around President Donald Trump's campaign and then his White House.

My best effort to answer the question on that TIME cover references a 45-year-old gangster flick. Like the bullet-riddled Vito Corleone (as played by Marlon Brando), the gravely injured Truth is sleeping fretfully in a private hospital room. Alone.

Mysteriously, Truth's guards have gone missing ... uh-oh.

Wake up, Democrats. Truth needs to be protected, right now.


Bottom line: Ralph Northam should take advantage of each and every opportunity to remind the voters that he will never be Donald Trump's houseboy... 

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This post first appeared on SLANTblog, please read the originial post: here

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Wake up, Democrats!


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