Gage Skidmore / Flickr trump heh...
Gage Skidmore / Flickr

The Democrats were out in force in Virginia last night, along with fed up Republicans, and a combination of liberal and moderate voters swung the bat and made it possible for a comfortable victory for Democrat Ralph Northam in his gubernatorial race. Kudos to this Democrat for a race well run, but the import of Northam’s victory is of much greater dimension and is now writ large as a commentary on how the politics of hate and divisiveness have no place in the American political landscape. Washington Post:

Virginians have now rejected President Trump’s tawdry, tasteless, taunting brand of politics in consecutive years — in 2016, when Hillary Clinton won the state by a greater margin than President Barack Obama managed in 2012, and again on Tuesday, when Democrats swept all three statewide offices and gained perhaps a dozen or so seats in what had been a GOP-dominated legislature. The rest of the South may be Trump country — though even that is uncertain given the president’s anemic poll ratings — but Virginia most assuredly is not.

Virginia voters suffered through a barrage of Gillespie campaign attack ads vilifying illegal immigrants by equating them with violent gangsters; celebrating the candidate’s support for Confederate monuments immediately after they were the rallying cause of racist and neo-Nazi marchers in Charlottesville; and attacking Mr. Northam, a pediatrician, for his ostensible support for restoring voting and other civil rights to child sex abusers. Eschewing the pocketbook issues Mr. Gillespie himself said mattered most to Virginians, his ads aimed to inflame and frighten.

Republicans see the handwriting on the wall. New York Times:

Representative Scott Taylor, a Republican from Virginia Beach, said he considered the Democratic sweep in Virginia a repudiation of the White House. He faulted Mr. Trump’s “divisive rhetoric” for propelling the party to defeat, and said he believed traditionally Republican-leaning voters contributed to Mr. Northam’s margin of victory.

“I do believe that this is a referendum on this administration,” Mr. Taylor said of the elections. “Democrats turned out tonight, but I’m pretty sure there were some Republicans who spoke loudly and clearly tonight as well.”

Channeling the shock of Republicans across the state, Mr. Taylor voiced disbelief at the party’s rout down ballot. “I know folks that lost tonight who were going against candidates I’d never even heard of,” he said.

The defection of Senators Jeff Flake and Bob Corker clearly signalled the beginning of a split, of not a schism,  in the sensibilities of the entire Republican party. They may in the vanguard but they are surely not alone.

Donald Trump is to be congratulated for one thing: he seems to be destroying the GOP far more effectively than the Democrats left to their own devices could ever do. Fine, let him flail away and when he’s felled all the Republicans he can, like trees in the forest, we’ll collect the wood and profit from it handsomely. Carry on, Twitter Thumbs, carry on.

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