Interlude—Long before Trump: Democrats got good results in Virginia on Tuesday night. This led to letters in today's New York Times—letters from the long misserved and therefore from the deluded.
The first letter came from a frequently-published writer of letters. For our money, he may be over-exulting a bit:
I awoke Wednesday morning on the anniversary of the worst day in American political history, immediately grabbed The Times, turned on the television and broke into my happy dance! In the first major election since Donald Trump was elected, the Democrats stormed back, not only in Virginia and New Jersey, but in races all across the country.Donald J. Trump is off in China, brandishing the nuclear codes as he prepares for his (possible) war. Traditionally, that's the way a president get his approvals up.
One of the most striking examples of this tsunami was the erasing of a 32-seat Republican majority in the Virginia House of Delegates. These results were a stunning rebuke of the president...
Meanwhile, Democrats may have retaken the Virginia House of Delegates. Surely, that will show him!
That happy dance may have come too soon, or too late. Meanwhile, another letter writer hailed this week's turnout by the Democratic base in Virginia. This analysis isn't "wrong"—or is it?
The main lesson from Tuesday’s election results is that when the Democratic base is energized to actually come out to vote, the Democrats win—and win big. Historically, those voters don’t show up for off-year elections, and as a result the G.O.P. wins statehouses, which it then leverages to gerrymander.Did the Democratic base "come out to vote" in Virginia this week? In fairness, it may all depend on what the meaning of "the Democratic base" is! That said, these are the vote totals for two recent Democratic candidates in Virginia:
Vote totals in Virginia:For whatever it's worth, at least thirty percent of Clinton's voters didn't turn out this week! Tuesday night still produced many wins in Virginia. We'll show you more detailed turnout data before the week is done.
Hillary Clinton (2016): 1.98 million votes
Ralph Northam (2017): 1.41 million votes
A third letter to the Times was perhaps most striking. Assuming the letter is on the level, it came from a long-time Republican voter who won't be fooled again:
Fool me once, shame on me. But fool me twice? That will never happen.If that letter is on the level, its writer only noticed this year that Republicans, in their tax proposals, "sell out their loyal, hardworking blue-collar workers, salary earners and white-collar professionals in favor of corporate interests and the uber-rich!"
I generally vote for any and all Republicans, except Donald Trump. However, on Tuesday I voted a straight Democratic ticket in Virginia. Why? First and foremost, because I do not like the debased and degraded tone that President Trump has set for our nation and the Republican Party.
Second, and very important, because I never thought that I would see the day when Republicans sold out their loyal, hardworking blue-collar workers, salary earners and white-collar professionals in favor of corporate interests and the uber-rich. The lock step Republican support and enthusiasm for President Trump’s shameful, proposed tax plan—a plan that undercuts every single class except the 1 percent and corporations—are incomprehensible. What became of the party of lower taxes and fiscal responsibility?
If that letter is on the level, this writer seems to think this type of tax proposal started with Donald J. Trump! But it didn't start with Donald J. Trump. If that letter is on the level, it seems that its writer has maybe been fooled many times in the past.
(Which isn't surprising, given the way our national discourse works.)
That self-assured letter writer is just one person. None of us people are perfect—certainly not the person who selects the letters which get published in the Times.
That said, it's interesting that this person seems to think our degradation started with Donald J. Trump. Absurd tax plans didn't start with Trump. But neither did The Giant Crazy, the kudzu vines which have long been choking the land.
This brings us to an area where even we self-assured liberals have been fooled many times. To wit:
The Crazy didn't start with Donald J. Trump! The Crazy subsumed our discourse many years in the past.
The Crazy came from many sources. It came from Sean and Rush and Bill; also, from the pitiful souls on the ludicrous Fox & Friends. But it also came from Chris and Brian and Lawrence, and from Maureen and Gail, and of course, again and again, from "the great Frank Rich."
If that one letter is on the level, its writer didn't know that previous GOP tax proposals "sold out loyal, hardworking blue-collar workers, salary earners and white-collar professionals in favor of corporate interests and the uber-rich." Then too, we liberals don't seem to understand the origins of the smothering vines which have now spread The Crazy all through our (non-voting) land.
(Overall, turnout in Virginia this week seems to have been roughly 50 percent of eligible voters. More data to follow before the end of the week.)
We're so old that we can remember Lerone Bennett's 1962 book, Before the Mayflower. We're so sharp that we can assure you of this:
The Crazy was very much here long before Donald J. Trump.
The Crazy didn't reach our shores on the crazily listing Trumpflower. The Crazy had made its way all over the land long before Donald J. Trump threw his bizarre head of hair in the ring.
Chris and the others all planted the seeds, then tilled the soil through which the kudzu crept. Eventually, Rachel came along. She kept vouching for Chris, her "dear friend," and then she even vouched for Greta, her drinking buddy—also, the prime enabler of Trump's birtherism over the prior four years. Our dear child's favorite drinking pal had served as Trump's birther caddie!
What kind of person does that? Also, what kind of audience buys it? Answer to the second question:
An audience which has been badly disserved by its putative leaders.
We succumbed to The Crazy long before Trump. Donald J. Trump was pre-normalized. Tomorrow, our series continues.