The GOP’s Suburban Collapse

Harold Meyerson

Harold Meyerson Editor-at-Large, The American Prospect

hree years ago, when he ran for the U.S. Senate against incumbent Democrat Mark Warner, Republican politician Ed Gillespie carried the big Washington, D.C., semi-suburban, semi-exurban Loudoun County by a narrow margin. Last night, running for governor against Democrat Ralph Northam, he lost it by 20 percentage points.

The Loudoun result epitomizes the Revolt of the Anti-Trump suburbs, which not only yielded a surprisingly large 9-point victory for Northam but may even have enabled the Democrats to win a majority, or come damned close to it, in the commonwealth’s House of Delegates—which required a pick-up of 17 seats in the 100-seat house. No one was expecting that.

To be sure, Gillespie won by Trumpian margins in Virginia’s rural southwest, but like most of rural America, this is a region that is losing population even as the suburbs and exurbs continue to grow. It’s a white working-class region, where Republicans still thrive, but in Virginia, as in most states, Republicans still have to run well in the more populous suburbs if they’re to win statewide. They didn’t do that last night: Not only did Northam pile up huge margins in Northern Virginia’s suburbs, but that’s also where the Democrats made most of their House of Delegates pick-ups. The most prominent of these was the victory of Danica Roem, who will become Virginia’s first transgender legislator, having defeated longtime GOP delegate and self-professed homophobe Robert Marshall. But no less unlikely was the victory of Democrat Lee Carter, a member of the Democratic Socialists of America, in the district adjoining Roem’s.

After the Third Battle of Bull Run, Manassas will now be represented in Richmond by one transgender delegate and one socialist delegate.

Yesterday’s election has got to send shock waves through Republican ranks, and nowhere more deeply than in the GOP’s congressional delegation. In last night’s vote, Northam carried college-educated white voters—a constituency that suburban Republicans simply can’t win without, and particularly in midterm elections, when such voters are the most overrepresented in the electorate. For Republicans such as the four who come from California’s Orange County, all of whose districts were carried last year by Hillary Clinton, Virginia’s results make for grim reading. Even before the polls closed, the most endangered of those four, Darrell Issa, announced yesterday that he wouldn’t vote for the Republican tax reform bill, since its proposed elimination of the state tax deduction and scaling back of the property tax deduction would likely prove very costly to his constituents. I would expect more Republicans who represent suburbs in high-tax states to reject that bill in days to come. If they were on the fence, yesterday’s voting may well decide the issue for them.

For all that currently divides Democrats, last night’s results, and not just in Virginia, demonstrated that the various wings of the party can come together at the polls. And that just as Republicans were united in their opposition to Barack Obama, Democrats, for all their divisions, are united in their opposition to—and in their utterly justifiable fear and loathing of—Donald Trump. That’s a huge advantage going into 2018.

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Reposted from The American Prospect

Harold Meyerson also is political editor and columnist for the L.A. Weekly, the nation’s largest metropolitan weekly, and a regular contributor to The Washington Post.. In 2009, Atlantic Monthly named Mr. Meyerson one of 50 Most Influential Columnists. He is the author of Who Put the Rainbow in The Wizard of Oz?, a biography of Broadway lyricist Yip Harburg. From 1991 through 1995, Meyerson hosted the weekly show “Real Politics” on radio station KCRW, the Los Angeles area’s leading NPR affiliate. He is a frequent guest on television and radio talk shows.

Posted In: Allied Approaches

Union Matters

Saving the Nation’s Parks

From the USW

From tumbledown bridges to decrepit roads and failing water systems, crumbling infrastructure undermines America’s safety and prosperity. In coming weeks, Union Matters will delve into this neglect and the urgent need for a rebuilding campaign that creates jobs, fuels economic growth and revitalizes communities. 

The wildfires ravaging the West Coast not only pose imminent danger to iconic national parks like Crater Lake in Oregon and the Redwoods in California, but threaten the future of all of America’s beloved scenic places.

As climate change fuels the federal government’s need to spend more of National Park Service (NPS) and U.S. Forest Service budgets on wildfire suppression, massive maintenance backlogs and decrepit infrastructure threaten the entire system of national parks and forests.

A long-overdue infusion of funds into the roads, bridges, tunnels, dams and marinas in these treasured spaces would generate jobs and preserve landmark sites for generations to come.

The infrastructure networks in the nation’s parks long have failed to meet modern-day demand. The American Society of Civil Engineers gave parks a D+ rating in its 2017 infrastructure report card, citing chronic underfunding and deferred maintenance.

Just this year, a large portion of the Blue Ridge Parkway, which is owned and managed by the NPS, collapsed due to heavy rains and slope failures. Projects to prevent disasters like this one get pushed further down the road as wildfire management squeezes agency budgets more each year.

Congress recently passed the Great American Outdoors Act,  allocating billions in new funding for the NPS.

But that’s just a first step in a long yet vital process to bring parks and forests to 21st-century standards. America’s big, open spaces cannot afford to suffer additional neglect.

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There is Dignity in All Work

There is Dignity in All Work