Right now, the base of the Democratic Party is feeling the Bern. Moderates and Blue Dogs are in a panic, unable to stop the grassroots movement of Socialism.

Biden, Bloomberg, and Boot-Edge-Edge are dividing up the sensible side of the Party – the same mistake Kasich, Rubio, and Jeb! made in 2016 on the Republican side. Warren and Klobachar and Steyer are irrelevant. Proud Bernie keeps on Bernin’.

It is scary to think that one of our two national parties – the party of JFK, Clinton, and yes, Obama – is about to fall into the hands of an avowed, out and proud, Socialist.

But in Virginia, let’s take a step back and realize that we have an out and proud Socialist in Richmond. Republicans and Democrats didn’t take the threat seriously, like Biden did when he was all the way out front. Republicans and Democrats alike say not to worry about Bernie, but when his movement showed up in Virginia in the form of Lee Carter, a Sandersnista, all they could do was scratch their heads.

Lee Carter is a member of Virginia’s House of Delegates, representing the 50th District. The district encompasses the City of Manassas and parts of Prince William. Let’s go in for the obvious – yes, “Poor Me” Lee Carter is a loud and proud Socialist.

Carter is the literal definition of a Bernie Bro. White? Check. Bitches about his job? Check. Millennial who believes the government should provide everything without even knowing how to pay for it? Check. Internet troll? Check. He routinely tells critics on Twitter to “Shut the F*ck up” and to “Eat his entire ass.” He is the poster child for Bernie’s army.

However, Democrats sat back as he threw his hat in the ring, seriously going for public office. Jackson Miller decided to run for another office simultaneously, hoping that sticking a picture of Lee next to Mao would be enough to educate voters. Jackson Miller did not seem to take him seriously – he was the incumbent and a typical, standard-bearing Republican. He didn’t think his district, let alone any district in Virginia, would elect a Socialist.

All the while, Lee marched forward, pitching himself as the working man fighting for working people and working issues, while Miller was distracted and had no defining plans for education or health care except for typical, screened Republican talking points.

Lee won reelection, again painting himself as the fighter for working people, as the Republicans ran another career politician. People didn’t turn to Lee because he’s a Socialist. It’s because, flaws and all, Carter seemed like a regular person – and in the age of Trump and Bernie, people want someone who is themselves and says what’s on their minds, even if it’s wrong.

The GOP in Virginia keeps attacking the fact that he’s a Socialist. But they are failing to  diagnose why people turned towards him.

When Republican strategist Matt Moran was interviewed by the Prince William Times on why Republican Ian Lovejoy failed in his bid against Carter, he called it a “big question mark.”

“It’s one of the mysteries,” Moran said at a post-election forum in Arlington when asked how Republicans can beat a socialist. “If I had the answer, Ian Lovejoy would be the delegate-elect.”

The answer is not as big of a question mark as Mr. Moran may think. The answer is simple. People like regular people – even people as flawed as Carter – because everyday people make mistakes. More importantly, the electorate, especially in this brave new, anti-establishment era, like people with new ideas, even if they are fundamentally wrong. The Republican Party of Virginia has not produced new ideas in a very long time.

The Republican Party of Virginia has given up two things – Creating Fresh Ideas, and Moral Authority. The RPV needs a new menu that not even Gordon Ramsey can help spice up.

On education, they allowed Democrats to push and sneak in Common Core. From Loudoun to Fairfax, Common Core-approved texts are making their way into the classroom despite Virginia supposedly being against it. Lee Carter supports Common Core – which disproportionately affects children of color – robbing them of equity and a fair shot in the education system and, later, the workforce.

But, Lee Carter is still the candidate with a vision (albeit a bad one) on education and coming out in favor of raising teacher pay. School Choice is the only mantra the RPV knows how to chant, and in doing so, conceded ground to an official who is a Socialist.

The Republican Party has no real plan on raising teacher pay. Is there even an interest to do so? There is so much bureaucracy to trim in education, it wouldn’t even require raising taxes – just cutting positions that seem to be created out of Nepotism. This is such an opportunity to make headwinds on this issue and reach those suburban moms the GOP lost.

Democratic Socialists conveniently make it hard to attack them by hiding behind education or health care reform or raising wages. This is the Republican Party’s fault for letting it happen, and by not providing a damn plan to fix these problems, letting these clowns latch on to them. Republicans still haven’t come up with a solution to health care after years of complaining about ObamaCare.

The Republican Party, while championing individualism which they are the party of, leaves the real responsibility of social justice to these guys. Individualism and social justice should not be mutually exclusive.

Yet, due to Republicans giving up moral authority by racial dog whistling in recent campaigns against immigrants and defending statues, they allowed Democratic Socialists like Lee to tie themselves to racial justice and worker rights. Having no Moral Authority or making deals with bigots made the RPV always on the losing end, especially in districts like the 50th.

It doesn’t matter how nice a guy Jackson or Ian were. The collective opinion of the Republican Party in the state and in the age of Trump damages them in majority-minority districts. Lee Carter claims to be for racial justice. Ironically,  this is coming from a man who embraced the Confederate Flag. In his district, Stonewall Jackson Middle School still stands. He’s not on the front lines calling for renaming the school. Yet Republicans, even for strategy sake, failed to point out this hypocrisy.

Lee Carter claims to be for worker rights – yet supports Medicare for All which will strip workers of their hard-earned health benefits and plans they love. He supports raising the minimum wage to $15. Yes, the working class needs a living wage. However, if that is raised, every wage must go up too, which defeats the point of his goal of solving income inequality.

If the Republican Party cannot point out the blatant hypocrisy of Delegate Carter, cannot come up with fresh, new ideas that take on the issues of the working class and social justice today, or claim any semblance of a Moral High Ground, then it’s going to remain a big old question mark as to why a Democratic Socialist can’t be beaten in Virginia, of all states.

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