For the past few weeks, beginning with Gov. Ralph Northam’s controversial comments about proposed legislation that would keep a newly born baby comfortable as its fate is decided by doctor and mother, Virginia has been the center of attention. And it hasn’t been good.
Shortly after those remarks, a picture on Northam’s medical school yearbook page was revealed to show someone in blackface standing next to someone dressed as a member of the Ku Klux Klan. One or the other might be Northam. Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax has been accused – twice – of sexual assault. And Attorney General Mark Herring disclosed that he also appeared in blackface in college.
The immediate reaction – from Democrats – was entirely appropriate.
Almost every Democrat in one way or another – including presidential aspirants – condemned the action. Many loudly proclaimed that there should be resignations. And, if not resignations, then impeachment procedures should begin.
Even Herring called on Northam to resign. Until Herring decided to reveal he had done the same thing, that is. But some wielding pitchforks of purity have since acquiesced to the whimpers of three deeply flawed, exposed politicians and a desperate political party trying to save itself before a big election.
Appearing this weekend on CBS News’ “Face the Nation,” both U.S. Rep. Don Beyer, D-Va. 8th District, and U.S. Rep. Jennifer Wexton, D-Va. 10th District, again called for Northam and Fairfax to step down. However, both stopped short of calling for Herring to go.
“The attorney general came forward proactively, is very regretful and contrite,” Wexton said. “He reached out to all the African-American leaders and other leaders, very heartfelt anguish about what he had done.”
Beyer added a rare moment of truth we find so refreshing from our elected leaders, but it is regrettably odious at the same time: “We would move from a progressive, very strong attorney general to someone who’s not just a Republican but someone who’s on the arch-conservative end of it.”
Therein lies the rub. Should all three Democrats resign, the line of succession falls to the state Speaker of the House, Del. Kirk Cox, R-66th District. Democrats could care less about principle. This is about political power. Who can say we’re surprised with the course of action by state Del. Patrick Hope, D-47th District, who had been so eager to bring articles of impeachment on Fairfax. That squealing you hear is Hope slamming on the breaks.
“Yesterday, I sent draft language to my colleagues on the first step of an impeachment action regarding the Lt. Governor,” he tweeted Monday, Feb. 11. “There has been an enormous amount of sincere and thoughtful feedback which has led to additional conversations that need to take place before anything is filed.” He reconsidered impeachment after a “conference call” with House Democrats.
Instead of pursuing the truth with testimony, we will continue to get ridiculously contrived maneuvers. Instead of focusing on the complex legacy of race – lynching, Jim Crow, Confederate statues, white nationalist rallies – or the ramifications to equality of enabling a man accused of rape and sexual assault to remain in office, Democrats have chosen political crassness by enabling what Greg Corombos of Radio America called the “Jenga Tower” of state leadership to teeter on.
Remove one, the whole tower comes crashing down – and Democrats know it.
Amid a historic embarrassment for Virginia, Democrats seem hellbent on maintaining power now, even if that means propping up three men who have lost their standing to serve.
This column appears in The Princess Anne Independent News