More vot­ers yearn­ing for end to Trump era

The Mercury News Weekend - - OTHER VIEWS - By E. J. Dionne Jr. E. J. Dionne Jr. is a Wash­ing­ton Post colum­nist.

Tues­day’s Demo­cratic sweep oblit­er­ated a se­ries of out­dated story lines in Amer­i­can pol­i­tics and opened a new era.

For­get those rep­e­ti­tious tales about some piece of Pres­i­dent Trump’s base still stick­ing with him. It’s now clear, from Vir­ginia and New Jer­sey to Wash­ing­ton state, Ge­or­gia, New York, Con­necti­cut and Maine, that the en­ergy Trump has un­leashed among those who loathe him has the po­ten­tial to re­align the coun­try

n droves, vot­ers re­buked his lead­er­ship, his party and the di­vi­sive white na­tion­al­ist pol­i­tics that was sup­posed to save Repub­li­can Ed Gille­spie in the Vir­ginia gov­er­nor’s race, the cen­ter­piece of the GOP catas­tro­phe.

In­stead, Ralph Northam, the Demo­cratic lieu­tenant gov­er­nor who was much-ma­ligned un­til elec­tion night for be­ing bor­ing, swept to vic­tory on a mas­sive turnout with the largest per­cent­age for a Demo­crat in Vir­ginia since 1985.

Wide­spread re­ports of new or­ga­niz­ing and ac­tivism on the pro­gres­sive side of pol­i­tics were of­ten writ­ten off be­fore Tues­day be­cause ear­lier this year Democrats lost four spe­cial con­gres­sional elec­tions in very Repub­li­can con­stituen­cies. Typ­i­cally over­looked were sharp shifts away from the GOP in all these dis­tricts. It’s now clear that the back­lash against Trump is the most con­se­quen­tial fact of Amer­i­can pol­i­tics.

Other right-wing nar- ra­tives died as well. An­tiOba­macare sen­ti­ment was once an as­set for the Repub­li­can Party. Not any­more. On Tues­day in Vir­ginia, the exit poll found that health care was the top is­sue in the gov­er­nor’s race, named by close to 40 per­cent of vot­ers. Health care vot­ers backed Northam by bet­ter than 3-to-1. In Maine, vot­ers de­fied their er­ratic arch-con­ser­va­tive gov­er­nor, Paul LePage, and voted for the ACA’s Med­i­caid ex­pan­sion.

Repub­li­cans take note: You can de­mean your­selves all you want by trum­pet­ing Trumpian themes. It won’t buy you grat­i­tude, and — ex­cept in the most deeply red parts of the na­tion — it won’t buy you vic­tory. The leader of your party is a boor, an in­grate and, as Northam de­clared in his ef­fec­tive Demo­cratic pri­mary ad­ver­tis­ing, a “nar­cis­sis­tic ma­niac.”

Per­haps even more revealing was the re­sponse of Jerry Fal­well Jr. Those who lose usu­ally try to fig­ure out why the vot­ers re­jected their side. Not Fal­well, who pro­posed ship­ping the vot­ers of north­ern Vir­ginia, known lo­cally as “NOVA,” some­where else.

“DC should an­nex NOVA and re­turn the gover­nance of VA to Vir­gini­ans!,” Fal­well tweeted. “The founders in­tended DC to in­clude all fed em­ploy­ees who are con­flicted.” Sorry, Jerry, but north­ern Vir­ginia is full of en­trepreneurs, pro­fes­sion­als and im­mi­grants or their chil­dren who have noth­ing to do with the fed­eral gov­ern­ment — which, by the way, won the Civil War, even if many on your side still seem to re­vere the Con­fed­er­acy.

And thus a brief memo to Democrats: You’d be fools to de­scend into sec­tar­ian in­fight­ing be­tween your mod­er­ate and pro­gres­sive wings. The re­sults on Tues­day showed that vot­ers across a broad spec­trum backed can­di­dates of var­i­ous ide­o­log­i­cal hues to de­mand a new po­lit­i­cal di­rec­tion. Your first job is to rally what we now know is an Amer­i­can ma­jor­ity that sees Trump’s pres­i­dency as a dis­as­ter for our na­tion.

NI­CO­LAS ASFOURINICOLAS ASFOURI/AFP/GETTY IM­AGES

E.J. Dionne Jr. says the en­ergy Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump has un­leashed among those who loathe him could re­align US.

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