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A Sober View of the Virginia and New Jersey Elections

Virginia and New Jersey Elections

After a year of undermining our democratic institutions (independent judiciary, free media); dividing our society; continuing Obama’s worst foreign policy mistake (arming the Saudi war in Yemen); dismantling the most innovative parts of the Federal bureaucracy; and governing by sneering rhetoric glossing over muddling, semi-secret maneuvering, the right wing—its biases now unambiguously exposed to the light of day—got 45% of the vote for governor of Virginia and 42% for governor of New Jersey.

While certainly no triumph for the right, that result hardly merits a party on the part of those who want a safe, inclusive, neighborly, clean America. A 55-54% progressive victory in Texas might call for a bit of champagne; in the state where Washington bureaucrats live or the state emerging from the Christie governorship, hardly. And New Jersey, albeit electing a Democrat, elected a “Democrat” from Goldman Sachs...not exactly a step in the direction of class equality or rejection of Wall St. financial fraud.

Progressives--and let’s just define them as folks who want progress AWAY FROM 19th century prejudice, class consciousness, worship of the rich, and scientific ignorance—evaded disaster this Election Day 2017...but in races over very low hurdles, and the forces trying to undermine the way of life we have struggled to design for two centuries--since Madison so brilliantly portrayed the long path to democracy and liberty—remain very much intact.

The large minority that handed Trump his 2016 Electoral College majority has, by this week’s evidence, hardly shrunk at all over the last year. American voters have yet to awaken to the threat they face, and—not coincidentally—progressives have yet to formulate and communicate a serious, precise, believable, and practical legislative agenda to inspire voters to believe in a better future. 

Most people, most of the time, prefer keeping what they have to taking a chance. We are not so very different from the “long-suffering Russian peasants.” When my piece of the pie is small, don’t ask me to share! And when people are bitter about the present and scared of the future, most will blame their neighbor rather than taking the very scary step of sitting down with that neighbor to think up a potential positive-sum solution. As a matter of fact, when my piece of the pie is small, give me some of yours!!

The Virginia and New Jersey elections suggest that most of those who have decided to follow the easy path of blaming the neighbor have not changed their minds...perhaps because those who see the future as bright have yet to make a convincing case that we can get there from here.


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