West Virginia is not looking so bad, now, huh? The Commonwealth of Virginia is in turmoil – at least, politically. It started with Democratic Governor Ralph Northam, but now it seems to be getting hard to find a politician in the state who has not done something stupid or dreadful. Northam set himself up for trouble the moment he casually defended infanticide and, sure enough, he was outed within days as someone who, as a medical student, thought it amusing to engage in racially insensitive frivolities such as putting on blackface and wearing a Ku Klux Klan costume to the local frat party.
Northam staged a ridiculous press conference to clear his name, or something. Things got worse as he denied appearing in a photograph, having previously admitted to being in it. The only question that remained was whether he was the guy in blackface or the guy in the KKK hood. For whatever reason – presumably, to use up some time – Northam admitted that he once put on blackface to impersonate Michael Jackson. How ironic that is, considering that the late pop icon spent most of his time in whiteface.
Just as the pressure on Northam to step down was reaching a critical point, the man who would have replaced him, Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax (D), ran into much more serious trouble. Fairfax has been accused of a sexual assault almost as serious as rape, and it appears unlikely that he could now replace Northam when the latter finally gives up the white-knuckle grip he has on the door handle of the governor’s mansion.
So, now Virginia legislators are looking at the chain of succession. Next in line after Lt. Governor Fairfax is the state’s attorney general. Another Democrat, A.G. Mark Herring has also now admitted to wearing blackface at a college party in 1980. An anonymous Virginia senator says he now remembers the incident but claims he didn’t know, at the time, it was Herring. “You know how it is,” the senator said. “These blackface people all look alike.”
The whole affair is beginning to look like an episode of the T.V. show Survivor and the presumed successors keep getting voted off the island. Meanwhile, it came to light that a GOP state senator, Tommy Norment, used to edit the Virginia Military Academy yearbook which was, apparently, a virtual collection of racial slurs and photographs of people in blackface. Norment is not in line for the governor’s chair but another Republican is. Kirk Cox is the speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates and that makes him fourth in line.
Err … Does Anyone Want to be Governor?
Desperate to avert this sudden power shift, Virginia Democrats polled their constituents. It turns out that 28% of registered Democrats in the state said they would like to be governor, 32% said they would take the job if wearing blackface in the past would not be a disqualifying factor and 40% claimed they had never heard of the Commonwealth of Virginia.
…they face a dilemma with no good outcomes from their perspective.
Democrats are in a pickle, then. Having already crossed the Rubicon in terms of demanding the governor’s resignation, they face a dilemma with no good outcomes from their perspective. If they stick by the number two man in Virginia, Fairfax, they will make a mockery of the entire “Me Too” movement. If they back the state attorney general, they will look ridiculous, having already crucified Northam for the very same transgression. If Virginia Democrats also refuse to accept Mark Herring over his blackface escapades, they hand the governorship to a Republican and alienate the blackface community – the growing number of white Americans who identify as black.
Their only option is to find a way to take Cox down and hold a talent contest to pick a new governor. This idea is already circulating. Proposed rules for the contest include no Michael Jackson impersonations and no re-enactments of scenes from the movie Fifty Shades of Grey. In the most recent development, Massachusetts Democrat, Senator Elizabeth Warren, who is now unlikely to run for president, has announced her intention to claim the position of governor based upon her Virginian ancestry.