A Victory for Decency and a Sign of Hope

Alan Elsner Image
Alan Elsner
on November 8, 2017

Anyone who cares about the future of American democracy and the core values on which it stands should be heartened by the results of Tuesday’s elections across the United States and particularly in Virginia.

After a year of President Trump’s constant lies, insults against fellow politicians and ordinary citizens and a string of policies designed to isolate our nation, ratchet up international tensions, rip up diplomatic agreements, degrade the environment, deprive millions of healthcare and target vulnerable communities, this was the first real chance for voters to speak. They spoke!

Virginia’s Republican gubernatorial candidate Ed Gillespie ran an ugly and cynical campaign based on the president’s blueprint, aimed at whipping up fear and hatred of Latinos in an effort to mobilize the “Trump” base.

He ran ads against Democrat candidate Ralph Northam that equated undocumented immigrants with gang violence and tried to tie Northam to a sex offender who briefly had his voting rights restored. That last tactic harkens all the way back to President George H.W. Bush’s notorious racist “Willy Horton” ad in the 1988 presidential election.

Despite this – and perhaps partly because of it – Northam won by a whopping nine percentage points, leading a Democratic sweep of all statewide offices and massive pickups in the House of Delegates that have put Democrats within reach of taking control of the chamber. Democrats also scored a landslide victory in the New Jersey gubernatorial election and in mayor’s races across the nation.

One of the most significant of these victories belongs to Virginia’s Danica Roem, who will become one of the nation’s first openly transgender candidate elected to state office. She defeated 13-term incumbent Robert Marshall, who last year sponsored a “bathroom bill” aimed against transgender individuals, insisted on referring to his opponent as if she were a male and did not even congratulate her on her victory. America is truly better off without such bigots in elected office.

From J Street’s viewpoint, these victories and others around the nation give us hope that last year’s election of Trump does not mean that America has forsaken its core values. It has shown that although a strident minority may cheer whenever Trump and his aides try to demonize, demean, humiliate and victimize minorities, the majority of Americans are appalled by such behavior.

We must now redouble our efforts aimed at the 2018 midterm elections, when JStreetPAC is committed to raising a record $4 million for pro-peace, pro-diplomacy, pro-decency candidates. We already have an impressive roster of candidates who have sought and received our endorsement and we will be adding more in the weeks and months ahead.

Last night’s election represented the moral voice of America beginning to reassert itself. It’s a process that we hope will continue next year and reach a culmination in 2020. We will certainly play our part with the help of all of our supporters.

The millions of voters who participated overwhelmingly repudiated Trump and “Trumpism.” It was an overwhelming vote for common decency.

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