Democrat Ralph Northam won the Virginia governor's race over Republican Ed Gillespie on Nov. 7. Here are some other takeaways from the state's election. (Amber Ferguson/The Washington Post)

One year after President Trump rode a campaign of white nationalism into the White House, the American people struck back. Decisive Democratic wins for governor in New Jersey and Virginia, not to mention the Democratic victories for lieutenant governor and attorney general, are a clear sign of the electorate’s disquiet with Trump’s low-road Twitter presidency.

But three other signs come to mind in the afterglow of Election Day 2017. Here are my quick thoughts.

Borrowing pages from Trump’s white-nationalist playbook will hurt you.

Nothing was more disturbing and degrading of the presidency than Trump’s both-sides nonsense in response to the ugly white supremacist rallies in Charlottesville, where Heather Heyer was allegedly killed by a racist who plowed his car into a crowd of counter-protesters. That Ed Gillespie adopted Trump’s rhetoric on monuments to Confederate generals and tried to scare voters with loose talk of Latino gangs clearly was a bridge too far the people of the commonwealth. What’s even more pathetic is that a man with a stellar reputation and good name such as Gillespie threw it in the gutter to try to win on the backs of white grievance.

No, Democrats don’t need to have a progressive, Bernie-anointed candidate to win.

Tom Perriello lost the primary to now-Governor-elect Ralph Northam, a centrist anchored in the establishment. Perriello was endorsed by Sen. Bernie Sanders, the Vermont independent who ran for president in the Democratic Party in 2016 but doesn’t see fit to join the party. But Perriello didn’t disappear. He worked hard on Northam’s behalf and not grudgingly. I couldn’t look at Twitter in the run-up to the election without seeing tweets from Perriello out on the campaign trail. Thus proving that a vanquished primary opponent who works hard to help his victor during the general election is essential.


Tom Perriello, left, shakes hands with Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam at the start of the first debate of Virginia’s Democratic candidates for governor in April. (Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post via AP)

The American people are not afraid of self-correction.

When the election was called for Northam, I was sitting in the same spot on my sofa where I watched in horror the dawn of Trump nation a year ago. The American people broke my heart that night. Everything that I knew to be true — hoped to be true — about my country was voided by voters who responded positively to the most racist, xenophobic and misogynistic campaign for president in recent memory. The fear his election unleashed was raw and palpable. But the ugliness and incompetence that followed Trump into the White House had an impact.

The Democratic gubernatorial victories in New Jersey and Virginia are the first sign of correction. Another is the successful run of Justin Fairfax, the newly-elected lieutenant governor of Virginia who will become only the second African American to win that seat. L. Douglas Wilder won the post in 1985. He went on to become the commonwealth’s and the nation’s first black governor. And yet another is the election of Danica Roem to the Virginia House of Delegates. She becomes the first openly transgender state legislator in the United States by defeating the homophobic and anti-transgender Republican incumbent Bob Marshall.


Justin Fairfax, the Democratic candidate for Virginia lieutenant governor is pictured during an interview at his campaign headquarters in Arlington in September. (Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post)

Zac Petkanas, former rapid response chief for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, summed it up best in a tweet after the race was called for Northam. “The #resistance began on November 9, 2016,” he wrote. “The #revolution began tonight [Nov. 7].”

Onward to taking our country back from the marauding forces of division and hate in 2018. This is not over.

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