Just North Of Me

I hate to steal from an author I do not like (I’m in the minority in that opinion) but today’s article could be called a tale of two cities: Richmond, Virginia and Washington D.C. As fate would have it they are both a relatively short drive north of me and I journey through Richmond on my way to metro Washington a couple of times a year. Enough about me; let’s explore the politics.

As things stand right now in the capital of the Commonwealth of Virginia only a fool would bet on who will be the Governor by this time next month. Current Democratic Governor Ralph Northam’s scandal broke first. Many of the details are unclear (in large part due to Northam himself) but this much we know for certain. A racist picture depicting someone in blackface standing next to someone dressed as a Klansman appeared on his page in his medical school yearbook 35 years ago. Northam’s excuses/explanations changed several times and were inadequate at best. (That is a very charitable appraisal of them.)

Democratic Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax looked like the logical replacement until a sexual assault allegation from the 2014 Democratic National Convention surfaced. Fairfax denied it and for a few days it looked like a classic he said/she said. Then somewhat corroborating evidence of the accuser’s story surfaced. It was still at least a bit murky which allowed Fairfax some cover. Soon another allegation of rape came from his college days at Duke and this one had much better corroborating evidence. (North Carolina does not have a statute of limitations on sexual assault.)

Third in line is the Virginia Attorney General, Mark Henning, who also happens to be a Democrat. Last week Henning, in what could be viewed as a preemptive move, announced that as a 19 year old college student he had participated in a blackface routine. Henning proclaimed it a mistake and asked for forgiveness. I am not in a great position to judge anyone’s sincerity but from a political damage control standpoint Henning certainly handled it the best.

Fourth in line is a Republican and I can’t see the Democrats surrendering the Governor’s mansion. My gut tells me that whatever is worked out via “exotic political maneuvers” we will end up with a Democratic Governor in Richmond for the remainder of Northam’s term.

What Northam and Henning did was wrong. What Fairfax is credibly and multiply accused of doing is a serious felony. All I know is that if I had to manage a campaign in Virginia at either the state or national level in 2019 or 2020 (Virginia has statewide elections in “off years”) I could not defend Fairfax’s action, would have great difficulty defending Northam’s actions but I would have cards to play in defending Henning’s action based on his self-reporting, admitting his error and asking for forgiveness.

Going a bit further north, if Sunday morning’s reports are true Washington is its usual ball of confusion. Word is that talks to come up with a continuing resolution proposal have broken down over the issue of border funding. I certainly can’t handle this issue in a paragraph or two, and days are weeks in American politics but remember the government is slated to shut down again Friday without a resolution (even a kick the can one) before then.

Regardless of what economic philosophy you adhere to, markets and economies hate uncertainty and the future of the federal government is anything but certain. There will be a price to pay.

Senator Ed Markey and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) are the driving forces behind what is being called the Green New Deal. Basically it is a proposal for an economic stimulus package centered on climate change. I know it is currently dead in the water if for no other reason than the Trump enablers deny climate change. The first step in solving a problem is recognizing it exists; Trump and his fellow “very stable geniuses” aren’t even in the on deck circle yet let alone in the batter’s box on this one.

Great ideas take years to see fulfillment and decades more to fully blossom. Social Security was born in 1935 as a shell of today’s program. Obamacare was the initial culmination of an effort that dates back to at least the Truman administration. Today progressives appear within a few years of improving it. It has survived and become much more popular despite multiple Republican sabotage attempts. Markey and AOC will fail in their efforts in the 116th Congress but they will someday be remembered as the pioneers.

From a political standpoint the right wing has made a huge mistake in trying to turn AOC into their new villain. She is a freshman Representative with almost no real power except for the high profile they have given her. Ignored she would have been another face pretty much lost in the crowd. Now she is high profile with a platform to publicize her ideas and the name recognition to raise huge dollars for the Democrats. Just ask yourself: Were Jack Kennedy or Lyndon Johnson known as JFK or LBJ their freshman term in the House?

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