Steve Bannon’s attempted fascist putsch in Virginia and New Jersey has failed.
Is Alabama next? Can the Democrats keep it from being stolen?
Tuesday’s gubernatorial elections in the Garden State and the one for Lovers were soundly won by moderate Democrats. They were widely featured in the corporate media as referenda on Donald Trump.
But the knife cut much deeper. Steve Bannon, the nation’s leading fascist activist-theoretician, thoroughly polluted both states with some of the most vicious, blatantly racist advertising the world has seen since Hitler’s Germany.
With immigration as a pretext, Virginia and New Jersey voters were showered with visual and textual images portraying blacks and immigrants in terms that can only be compared to how the Nazis portrayed the Jews in 1930s Deutschland.
This may sound like an exaggeration to some of you. And I would never recommend anyone ingest such vile hatespeak. But if you doubt the comparison, Google it yourself.
Similar images were spread in the 1988 presidential campaign of George H.W. Bush against Michael Dukakis. They linked the Massachusetts governor to a pardoned black criminal named Willie Horton. Bush won the election, but lost his soul.
The PR guy responsible, Lee Atwater, issued an apology just prior to dying of brain cancer.
The victory in New Jersey was predictable. The truly awful Chris Christie left the state in ruins. His mean-spirited incompetence was staggering on more fronts than can be explained in a single article.
Virginia was less clear. The current corporatist Democrat governor was term-limited. The state has drifted to the Democrats in recent years, with two blue US senators and votes for Obama and Clinton. But 2010 gerrymandering gave both state legislative houses to the GOP.
To become governor, the Bush-style Republican Ed Gillespie took to vicious hate-mongering. A victory would have given the GOP an iron grip on the 2020 redistricting process.
Virginia’s eleven congressional seats are split seven-four for the Republicans. The legislature at Richmond has been firmly in GOP hands, but may be flipped to the Democrats. Hopefully a fair redistricting process will follow.
But what really matters is that in the former capital of the Confederacy, home of Robert E. Lee, an overtly racist campaign has failed. “Trumpism”—using immigration and other cover issues to scream a racist rant—was rejected. This was actually a vote on hate. Thankfully, both Virginia and New Jersey said NO.
As an underscore, both Virginia and New Jersey elected African-American lieutenant-governors. Two Latina women defeated incumbent Republicans for seats in the Virginia legislature. The state’s first elected transgender candidate also took a seat.
Meanwhile the Democrats took control of the legislature in Washington State, establishing a “Great Blue Wall” against Trump along the three states of the west coast.
But the next big test will be Alabama on December 12. The special election to fill the vacated US Senate seat of Jeff Sessions, now Trump’s attorney general, will pit Judge Roy Moore against a moderate Democrat.
Moore is the quintessential Bannon fascist. His raucous career has been defined by race hate and Biblical babble. His Deep South defeat would signal the failure of Trumpism’s core bigotry on its ancestral soil. It would also swing a crucial seat in the US Senate, significantly altering the balance of national power.
Alabama is about a quarter black. To win there, the Democrats must confront a computerized Jim Crow assault aimed at disenfranchising them. With a Republican governor and secretary of state running the election, the Dems must also painstakingly monitor every ballot, electronic and otherwise.
Alabama’s electoral system now features electronic machines that in many cases offer a ballot image that can be recounted. In a close race, these could make all the difference. But the Democrats have been slow to react. In Alabama, they will need every pixel possible.
In recent congressional elections in Montana and Georgia, Democratic candidates lost close vote counts that might well have been rigged. US Congressman Hank Johnson, along with numerous experts, have explicitly expressed the belief that the race in Atlanta, conceded by Democrat Jon Ossoff, was indeed stolen.
Given yesterday’s Virginia/New Jersey rejection of hate, Alabama is now in play. The Democrats have shown they can actually beat Trumpism.
In Alabama, they also must show they’ve learned some lessons from recently stolen elections.
Harvey Wasserman co-wrote with Bob Fitrakis, The Strip & Flip Disaster of America’s Stolen Elections: Five Jim Crows & Electronic Election Theft (freepress.org / solartopia.org ). He hosts California Solartopia broadcast at KPFK-Pacifica, 90.7FM in Los Angeles and podcasts at prn.fm.