‘Banning Doctor Seuss’ … and Other Nonsense From a Desperate Party

I feel like I’m the only Democrat in Virginia who is worried about this November.

This puzzles me from time to time. After all, our top two choices for Governor (based on recent Wason Center polling) are the former incumbent who appointed a scandal-plagued parole board (Virginia Mercury) and the Lieutenant Governor credibly alleged of sexual assault.

Our Attorney General primary was just thrown into turmoil by Governor Northam endorsing a two-term delegate Jay Jones over eight-year incumbent Mark Herring (who was Northam’s ticket-mate twice). Jones had called on Northam to resign over Yearbook-gate just two years ago. Now, Jones says, “his understanding of the yearbook scandal evolved after the call for Northam’s resignation went out” (WaPo).

Then I saw Shaun Kenney’s foray into the 2021 campaign – and the reasons for complacency quickly made sense. If The Republican Standard founder can’t see our clear problems right in front of him and feels forced to venture into bizarre errors of fact and 19th century history, most of my fellow Democrats won’t either.

Shaun starts with a string of “stereotypes” about Irish-Americans and Saint Patrick’s Day that do a good job of distracting from the real part of our history we should be “forced to grapple with” – namely the 1863 Draft riots. Then again, the riots weakened the Union effort in the Civil War – and Shaun’s not exactly friendly with Unionism these days.

Shaun then goes to assert that the Democrats “haven’t changed one iota” since Andrew Jackson. Now, Shaun and I agree on far fewer things than we once did, but I am pleased to see his hatred for the Herod of Hermitage still burns as brightly for him as it does for me. If anything, I’d also offer Shaun is too kind to FDR, whose 1930s welfare-state was clearly of the Clorox variety.

Unfortunately, none of that is truly relevant to the status of the major parties today. Indeed, by the time Congress finally came around to remove FDR’s redlining-as-the-law-of-the-land housing policy in 1968, it was the Democrats – not the Republicans – whose Congressional delegation was more supportive (GovTrack).

This really isn’t a surprise. After all, the Republican Party, for all its virtues, codified Jim Crow with the Compromise of 1877. The most dramatic local revolt against it was indeed the Virginia Readjusters, but their entrance into the Republican Party in 1884 was met with the defenestration of their national patron (President Chester Arthur) in that year’s convention. It was only the third time in American history that an incumbent president was denied nomination by his own party. It’s never happened since (although the Democrats of 1952 and 1968 were itching to do it). With enemies like these, Jim Crow barely needed friends.

The Virginia Republicans of the 1950s weren’t the angels Shaun claims they were either. As former University of Virginia Professor William G. Thomas III put it …”In 1957 in Virginia J. Lindsay Almond won the governorship in a bitter campaign against Ted Dalton that hinged on the politics of who would defend segregation better” [emphasis added].

Shaun also seemed to miss the entire 1970s, when the most ardent anti-Communist in Washington, DC, was U.S. Senator Scoop Jackson – a Washington Democrat.

Indeed, Jay Winik details how it was Democrats who were in key roles supporting Ronald Reagan in On The Brink. This is not to say Republicans were absent; they weren’t. I’ll even go so far as to say too many Democrats (wrongly) disagreed with Reagan’s methods. But “resisted every inch” of Cold War fervor? Yeah … no.

Then Shaun says, “Let’s be honest about what the Democrats are doing” – which would have been a refreshing change … had he actually started doing it. Instead, we get the bizarre insinuation that Justin Fairfax is not getting support for his gubernatorial campaign because he’s Black – instead of being credibly accused of sexual assault.

Even more laughable is the notion that the Democrats are still in thrall to the Byrd family – which would have been a surprise to U.S. Senator Harry Byrd Jr. who left the Democrats in 1970 and had a Democrat run against him in that year and in 1976.

… and of course, the idea that “Democrats” are trying to “ban Dr. Seuss” is, well … bonkers (AP).

It’s understandable why Shaun would want to tear down the Democrats. After all, his party was in power for four years, giving us  trade wars, lawbreaking at the highest level, and, of course, the January 6 insurrection.

What remains unclear is why he felt the need to rewrite history instead of referencing any of the items from the opening paragraph. Like I said, I know my party has real weaknesses, but Republicans keep wanting to ignore them for bizarre falsehoods.

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