Advertisements

Election Results From Real America

There were several elections of interest around the country on Tuesday, and the Democrats got the best of it. It’s easy to overstate their performance, and what it might portend for the rest of the country next November, but the Republicans would be wise not to underestimate the damage.
Virginia was a Republican stronghold from the ’60s until recently, but after Tuesday’s races the Democrats are firmly in control of the state. They already had a Democratic governor and lieutenant governor, and now the party holds every other statewide office and have majorities in both chambers of the state legislature. The Republicans had retained control through two presidential elections when the Democratic candidate easily won the state’s electoral votes, but that was mostly due to some nifty gerrymandering, which wasn’t enough to overcome the overwhelming majority of votes cast throughout the state for the Democrats and will likely go away when the Democrats get a chance to redraw the maps next year.
The recent problems in Virginia are part of a worrisome trend for the Republicans in the country at large. Affluent and highly educated suburbanites have been abandoning the party in droves since President Donald Trump was elected, and although the suburbs of Washington, D.C., and Richmond are more hostile than most Republicans have also lost congressional seats in Kansas and other reliably red states. Virginia also has a growing number of Latinos and a sizable and politically engaged black population, and they’re also averse to the party of Trump, who was not invited by any Republican to cross the bridge and do some campaigning.
Trump was gratefully welcomed to give one of his famous rallies in Kentucky, a state he easily won in the presidential election, but despite his efforts Democratic challenger Andy Beshear wound up with more votes than incumbent Republican Gov. Matt Bevin. The margin was slight enough that Bevin has refused to concede defeat, which is what one expects of Republicans in the age of Trump, but even if he’s able to litigate and recount his way to a slim victory it’s still an embarrassment for his party. Trump can rightly blame Bevin for being a failed governor and unpopular candidate, and he surely will, but he won’t be able to boast of his enormous appeal in Kentucky, and there’s still that nagging problem of the big cities and their suburbs going for the Democrats.
There was some good news for the Republicans in Mississippi, where Republican Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves beat Democratic state Attorney General Jim Hood by a solid if unspectacular score of 52-to-46 in the gubernatorial race. The Republicans’ problems with suburbanites and racial minorities was stark there, too, and the blatant appeals to white working class resentment that worked well enough in Mississippi might not fare so well elsewhere in the country.
Meanwhile, here in our humble hometown of Wichita, a larger-than-usual turnout in our nonpartisan local election ousted an incumbent mayor who is generally assumed to be a Republican and replaced him with a state representative is known to a Democrat. There are all sorts of peculiarly local reasons for the outcome, involving such matters as a ballpark and a big bucks water contract and plans to tear down some locally beloved buildings and pay some well-connected local businesses to put up something new, but it’s still notable that such a reliably Republican state as Kansas has a Democratic governor and its biggest city has a Democratic mayor, not to mention a Native American lesbian kick boxer Democrat as a congresswoman for the suburban and educated 2nd District up by Kansas City.
Next November is far, far away, and there’s no telling how awful the Democratic presidential nominee might be, but it’s hard to see the Republicans reversing some worrisome trends that keep revealing themselves in all the post-Trump election results. Perhaps Trump can find some way to ingratiate himself to those affluent and highly educated suburbanites and the racial minorities closer to the heart of town, but he has to keep stoking the racial resentments of his white working class base at the same time, and he’s not much for nuanced arguments. He’ll also be preoccupied with that pesky impeachment inquiry, which seems to turn up further damning testimony every day, and from the halls of Congress to the Wichita Republican headquarters his party seems in disarray.

— Bud Norman

Advertisements

Racism, Abortion, the Super Bowl and Other Current American Topics

Despite the distractions of a Super Bowl and all its attendant hype and controversies, the plight of Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam was stil prominent in the news all weekend.
The Democrat has championed a Democratic abortion bill being considered in the Virginia legislature that comes too close for most Americans’ tastes to allowing infanticide, and made remarks that suggest he’s quite comfortable with abortions being performed right up to the point of dilation, but the hubbub was instead about a 35-year-old picture in his medical school yearbook. The photo depicts a white man in blackface and minstrel show costume standing next to someone wearing a Ku Klux Klan robe and pointed hood, and although it’s not clear which is Northam, and although he denies he’s either one of them, the picture was undeniably chosen by Northam to adorn his personal yearbook page and there’s no denying that it’s pretty damned offensive.
The photo was unearthed by a previously little-known right-wing web site called Big League Politics, which clearly hoped to embarrass the radically pro-choice governor, but the Democratic Party in Virginia and the rest of the country quickly piled on. In some of these racially-charged imbroglios a public figure can credibly claim that it’s a much ado about nothing, as it was in a different time when he was a mere callow youth, but blackface and KKK robes are hard to slough off as just joking, and even in 1984 it was already considered very uncool, and Northam was a 25-year-old medical student at the time. To its credit today’s Democratic party takes a dim view of this sort of thing, and with an African-American Lieutenant Governor waiting in the wings to take up the party’s radical pro-choice torch it has no reason not to abandon its Virginia standard-bearer, and with the Republicans similarly aghast at such outrageous racism we hope for and expect Northam’s resignation early this week.
Which is not to say the Republicans will get much good out of it, however, as the story is full of ironic twists. Northam won the governorship in ’18 over Republican Ed Gillespie, who had a solid record of sensible Republican centrism over a long and distinguished career of public service but chose instead to run in the antiestablishment mold of President Donald Trump and make a big issue of keeping all the Confederate monuments in a place of honor in Virginia’s public squares, Given all the black votes in the inner-cities and rural districts of Virginia and all the guilt-ridden white votes in the well-educated suburbs of Richmond and Washington, D.C., Northam easily won the swing state’s governorship. Northam barely won the Democratic nomination over another more liberal Democrat, who surely wishes his inept opposition research team hadn’t unearthed that damning yearbook photo during the primary, and Virginia’s quadrennially crucial electoral college votes once again seem likely to go to the Democrats no matter how this embarrassing mater turns out.
Here’s hoping, though, that some good comes out of it. Perhaps the more promising young Democrats and Republicans alike will learn that blackface and KKK robes are not cool, and haven’t been for far more than 35 years, and we can get past all that nonsense and start carefully considering both parties’ most radical positions on abortion and taxes and America’s place in the world and other important matters. Here’s hoping . too, that we find some sane place in the sensible middle, and do so without the likes of Northam and Gillespie and that awful choice America had in its last presidential election.
We notice the New England Patriots won yet another Super Bowl victory over the Los Angeles Rams, which makes little difference to us, but we wish you all congratulations or condolences depending on which side you took.

— Bud Norman

North to Alaska, the Rush is On

The great state of Alaska had two notable visitors this week, with both President Barack Obama and a convoy of Chinese warships dropping by. The former was there to whip up support for his initiatives to end “global warming,” and the latter presumably had other reasons.
Whatever motives the Chinese might have for their provocative journey into the Bering Sea just off the Alaskan coast, they were probably more successful than the president. Global warming alarmism is unlikely to play well in Alaska, where the people are more troubled by the lack of infrastructure that has resulted from environmental regulations than they are by the fact that winter nights will soon -23 below Fahrenheit rather than -30 below Fahrenheit, even if the president’s dire predictions of a seven point rise in temperatures prove true, and they’ll be disinclined to worry that the difference will result in any rise of the sea levels. Obama is probably willing to write off Alaska’s reliably Republican and rather insignificant number of electoral votes to use its recently more acclimate climate as means of scaring the lower 49 states into panicked submission to earth-saving regime of brand new regulations, but all the polls confirm our belief that this is unlikely to sway a public that is already paying higher electric bills as a result of all other earlier regulations.
Perhaps Obama’s target audience was the rest of the world, which has always provided the approval he seems to most desire, but that also doesn’t seem to be working out. The big visit to Alaska and one of its recently retreating glaciers, but not one of its recently increasing glaciers, came in advance of the president’s meeting with several northern hemispheric countries on Global Leadership in the Arctic: Cooperation, Innovation, Engagement and Resilience, so clumsily named so that the acronym spells out GLACIER, where he hopes to reach an agreement on limits of carbon emissions and other environmentalist bugaboos. Despite all those photographs of Obama standing near a glacier that has reportedly receded a few meters or so in recent years, the governments of China, Russia, and India have already declared they’ll have nothing to do with it. Given the combined carbon emissions of these economies it’s hard to see how Obama will will keep his campaign promise to halt the rise of the seas, even if you do believe his dubious theories of “global warming,” so the time spent on the Alaska trip might have been better spent attending to other matters of more pressing importance.
Meanwhile, it’s hard to say what that provocative convoy of Chinese warships is doing in the Bering Sea just off the coast of Alaska, one of the fully-fledged and great states of the United States of America. Our guess is that they’re testing the extent of America’s weakness, but the country’s government seems to have other priorities.

— Bud Norman