According to a New York Times/Siena poll, Virginia's gubernatorial race has tightened up. Democrat Lieutenant Gov. Ralph Northam is up by only three points -- 43 to 40 -- over Republican Ed Gillespie. In the poll, 17 percent were shown to be undecided. Non-college graduates favor Gillespie over Northam by 40 points. Hillary Clinton carried the Old Dominion by 49.8 percent over Donald Trump, who garnered 44.4 percent, according to The New York Times.

Robert Kuttner wrote at Huffington Post on Monday that the Democratic party and progressive activists “should be in a state of high agitation, focused on one thing — containing Trump, his fake populism and his Republican allies.” Kuttner, a co-founder of the liberal “American Prospect,” said that instead, “the party of the people is withering. Energy on the ground is low, infighting is high. The run-up to the Virginia gubernatorial election is feeling sickeningly like the last days of Hillary Clinton’s campaign.”

Virginia Lt. Governor Ralph Northam

The aforementioned “non-college educated whites,” wrote Kuttner, “should be Democrats” based on their social class. “There is the same sort of chasm by race and class as in the Clinton-Trump race, with non-college educated whites favoring Republican Ed Gillespie by forty points.”

Saying that Northam is a “lackluster, accident-prone and risk-averse Democrat,” Kuttner wrote that Northam can only win if Gillespie is “even less convincing than Donald Trump as a populist.” Kuttner credited Gillespie for baiting Northam into saying that he would sign legislation banning sanctuary cities in Virginia. As a result, former Democratic National Chairman Howard Dean’s Democrats for America group announced that it was rescinding its support for Northam. 

Pollster Stan Greenberg -- a veteran adviser to the Clinton clan who nonetheless published a critique of Hillary Clinton’s campaign -- told New Yorker magazine: “Look at Virginia right now. We have a candidate running as Hillary Clinton. He is running on the same kind of issues, and has the same kind of view of the world. It’s the Republicans who talk about the economy, not the Democrats.”

Kuttner saw dismal prospects for Democrats elsewhere in the country and noted that DNC Chairman Tom Perez has ousted supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders such as former interim chair Donna Brazile. Brazile published extracts of her new book, which supports Sanders’ contention that Hillary Clinton and the party she controlled stole the nomination from him in 2016. Kuttner commented: “Maybe Brazile could have waited until after Tuesday’s elections?” He also noted that the involvement of Tony Podesta, brother of Clinton campaign chair John Podesta, in the probe led by special counsel Robert Mueller validates bipartisan distrust of the “special interest swamp.” 

Identity politics, admitted Kuttner, have sundered the Democrats. He has argued that Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) could have defeated Donald Trump last year. But even so, feminists said that a “Midwestern white guy,” such as Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) would have been a more prudent choice “There has to be something perverse about feminists arguing that misogyny is so pervasive that it’s better not to nominate a female.” He said that among black Democrats, there is “understandable bitterness” that whites, “even progressive whites,” have “failed to protect blacks from deepening racism.”

He wrote, “In short, the progressive side of the political spectrum is a cauldron of grievances, each understandable and legitimate in its own right. But if Democrats can’t find areas of common ground, then Trump and his imitators will keep winning.”

Democrats, he said, should nominate better candidates “who can narrate the grievances of ordinary Americans in a convincing way and propose drastic remedies.” While avoiding internal fights, Kuttner said that from within their party, a “leader will emerge as the Democratic standard bearer for the 2020 election.” But to win, that candidate should “restore some semblance of Democratic purpose and unity. Right now, that challenge seems more daunting than the election itself.”



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Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat and the editor of Spero News.

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