Democrats need an identity-politics intervention. Having unleashed race, gender, sexual orientation and class as the defining issues of American politics, these furies are now consuming their authors. Where’s Barack Obama when Democrats need him?
Every national Democrat of note is demanding that Virginia Governor Ralph Northam resign for appearing in blackface in 1984 and for offering different explanations for an offensive photo on his medical college yearbook page. But Mr. Northam is refusing to go.
Virginia’s political crisis, and Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker testifies at the House Judiciary Committee’s oversight hearing.
A second woman has now accused Virginia Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax of rape, this time at Duke University in 2000. Another woman has accused Mr. Fairfax of raping her at the Democratic National Convention in 2004. Mr. Fairfax denies both allegations and is demanding an FBI investigation, but many Democrats are also calling on him to resign.
Meanwhile, Attorney General Mark Herring, next in line for Governor if both Messrs. Northam and Fairfax resign, also appeared in blackface in the 1980s. Democrats are more forgiving of Mr. Herring, perhaps because next in line for Governor would be the Republican Speaker of the House of Delegates.
Imagine the cognitive Democratic dissonance if Mr. Fairfax, who is black, is forced to resign because of unproved accusations of sexual assault that he denies, while the two white men survive despite racial offenses that they admit.
If Democrats think these furies will be confined to Virginia, look at Elizabeth Warren as she launches her presidential campaign. It turns out she wrote “American Indian” on her 1986 registration card for the Texas legal bar—confirmation that she had claimed Native American ancestry, perhaps to assist her career, despite earlier denials. Republicans are calling her dishonest, while some Democrats accuse her of “cultural appropriation,” the ultimate identity politics sin.
Bernie Sanders has already had to apologize for a male staffer’s alleged transgressions during the 2016 campaign, and you can bet the press is gearing up for a #MeToo exam of every male candidate. This will all get worse as the 2020 Democratic primaries unfold.
Republicans can hardly believe their luck as they watch Democrats destroy themselves with the same weaponized outrage that has long been used against them. They also see the double standards, knowing that a Republican in similar straits would already have been forced from office. Given that Brett Kavanaugh was libeled only months ago as a gang rapist with no evidence, Republicans might be forgiven some schadenfreude as they now see the torments of identity politics turned upon the tormentors.
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When this poison was directed at Republicans, we lamented how this wasn’t good for America. Now that the attacks are on Democrats, we say the same: This is no good for the country or the Democratic Party.
Sexual assault deserves to be punished, but the accused also deserve legal and political due process. The evidence or lack of it should matter. A photo with men in blackface and KKK garb is offensive, but the mistakes of youth for politicians who have since shown zero evidence of racial bias deserve some perspective. Politics would be better with a little forbearance in judging adults solely by their worst moments from college.
The problem for Democrats is that the ideology of race, gender and class is now so deeply ingrained on the political left that no one dares to challenge it. A presidential candidate who tried would be taking a big risk.
That leaves Mr. Obama, the only Democrat with the personal and political standing to explain the perils of using race and gender as all-purpose, indiscriminate political weapons. Surely he can see how this is damaging the party’s electoral prospects. Democrats may be too far gone to listen, in which case the only discipline would be political defeat.
— The Wall Street Journal