If there were a state that could educate Americans on politics, and what happens when virtue smacks up against raw political power, you’d have to say it’s Virginia.
Illinois is broken. People flee Illinois for the same reason they flee New York: taxes.
But they don’t run from Virginia. They gravitate to Northern Virginia, home to some of the wealthiest counties in the country, and all those rich lawyers and lobbyists and journos and politicos and equestrians work in Washington.
These are the rulers and the palace guards, the gatekeepers and peddlers of influence. In another age, another place, they would wear powdered wigs at the Palace of Versailles. But now they live in Virginia.
And there, just a few days ago, the social justice warriors of the Democratic Party were clear of mind and heart and purpose.
When allegations of racial intolerance or toxic masculinity were focused on a Republican, the Democratic warrior priests knew exactly what to do.
Because the dogma lives loudly within them. Right, Sen. Dianne Feinstein?
From the partisan punditry of the Brett Kavanaugh hearings to the social media mobs unfairly attacking those Covington High School boys, the tactics were the same.
Peel the (metaphoric) skin off the offenders’ backs and engage in an orgy of virtue-signaling. It is proud and loud and angry. You even hear it in the voices of news anchors, and you pick it up reading between the lines of news stories.
Then something remarkable happened with Virginia politics. You might call it a teaching moment.
Racism and allegations of sexual assault ran smack into the desire of Democrats to keep power in Virginia. And two key Democratic constituencies, African-Americans and women, collided on the intersectional highway from political hell.
You could say it was a mighty struggle between public virtue and the pursuit of raw power -- Virginia is an important state in the 2020 presidential election -- and guess who won?
If you said “public virtue,” then go sit in the corner and put on the dunce cap.
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat and pediatric neurologist, had just defended, in an interview, an abortion practice that would allow the infant to be killed after birth. The left sighed. Yet they weren’t bothered about what some of us were calling infanticide.
But then the unthinkable -- to Democrats -- happened.
Old yearbook photos of Northam surfaced. He was either the one in the Ku Klux Klan costume or the one in blackface. He admitted it. Then he denied it. Then he admitted to wearing blackface, but only to look somewhat like the late moonwalker Michael Jackson.
But it all got so confusing because Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring, who’d damned Northam for wearing blackface, was forced to admit that yes, he, too, had worn blackface.
And then Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax -- an up-and-coming African-American Democrat -- was rocked by claims that he sexually assaulted two women.
Fairfax denied the claims, although they are detailed and, unlike allegations against Supreme Court Justice Kavanaugh, they have been supported by contemporaneous recollections of friends and associates of the alleged victims.
But Fairfax wasn’t interested in all that. He said he was being set up by Northam.
“Does anybody think it’s any coincidence that on the eve of potentially my being elevated that that’s when this smear comes out?” Fairfax told reporters.
Northam was quoted as saying in response, “These accusations are very, very serious. And they need to be taken seriously. ... We need to get to the truth. The truth is important. If these accusations are determined to be true, I don’t think he‘s going to have any other option but to resign.”
Ah, the truth.
So, if white Gov. Northam is pushed out for blackface, he’d be succeeded by Fairfax, a black man now twice accused of being a sexual predator. And if he were pushed out, state Attorney General Herring, another white Democrat who also once wore blackface, would be in line to be governor.
And if the three of these pompous weasels were pushed out? A Republican would take over. And the Democrats couldn’t handle that.
So none of the three Democrats are going anywhere.
To keep the governor politically alive, at least for a time, Northam first had to be cleansed.
This was accomplished in an interview by Oprah friend and CBS correspondent Gayle King. She baptized him in the media waters of absolution on “Face the Nation.”
She talked to people, she said. And the people she talked to assured her that Northam wasn’t racist.
“No one -- the people that I talked to do not believe he‘s racist,” she concluded. “They think it was a stupid thing but don’t think he’s racist.”
I love it when reporters talk to “people.” Sometimes, reporters talk to experts and then write “experts say” this or that. I love it when “experts say” something.
Two key constituencies of the Democratic Party are in symbolic conflict, African-Americans and women.
And all the old virtue-signaling has been put on hold, until the Democrats can figure it out, because this isn’t about skinning Republicans, is it?
That’s easy. This is about protecting Democratic control of Virginia. And it’s becoming embarrassing.
It’s not about morality is it? It isn’t about protecting women or condemning racism. It’s all about one thing and one thing only: The exercise of power.
Virginia Democrats? Thanks for the lesson.
By John Kass
John Kass is a columnist for the Chicago Tribune. Readers may send him email at firstname.lastname@example.org -- Ed.
(The Chicago Tribune/Tribune Content Agency)