Steve Bannon's attempted fascist putsch in Virginia and New Jersey has failed.
Is Alabama next? Can the Democrats keep it from being stolen?
Tuesday's gubernatorial elections in the Garden State and the state "for lovers" were soundly won by moderate Democrats. The elections were widely featured in the corporate media as referendums on Donald Trump.
But the knife cut much deeper. Steve Bannon, the nation's leading fascist activist-theoretician, offered to campaign for Gillespie, branding him a "culture warrior" in the course of the race. Although Gillespie refused Bannon's direct aid in the campaign, Bannon praised Gillespie's adoption of far-right Trumpist ideology and his brutally racist, anti-immigrant ads that reflect Bannon's extreme right-wing ideology.
Bannon went so far as to say that Gillespie's swing to the hard right was what made his race competitive. "I do believe Gillespie's going to pull this thing out," Bannon said Sunday, two days before the vote. "The lesson of Gillespie is Trumpism without Trump. ... We now have forced the establishment to embrace our platform."
But once Gillespie lost, both Trump and Bannon attacked him for not fully embracing their positions or their presence. Trump was the first sitting president to not campaign in a Virginia governor's race since Richard Nixon during Watergate. As the defeat became clear, Trump tweeted from Asia that Gillespie did not represent him.
Similar images were spread in the 1988 presidential campaign of George H.W. Bush against then-Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis. They linked Dukakis to a pardoned black criminal named Willie Horton. Bush won the election but lost his soul.
Tuesday's victory in New Jersey was predictable. The truly awful Chris Christie left the state in ruins. His mean-spirited incompetence was staggering on more fronts than can be explained in a single article.
The victory in Virginia was less clear. The current corporatist Democrat governor was term-limited. The state has drifted to the Democrats in recent years. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton won Virginia in 2012 and 2016, respectively, and it has two "blue" U.S. senators. But 2010 gerrymandering gave both state legislative houses to the GOP.
To become governor, the Bush-style Republican Ed Gillespie took to vicious hate-mongering. A victory by Gillespie would have given the GOP an iron grip on the 2020 redistricting process.
Virginia's 11 congressional seats are split seven to four for the Republicans. The Legislature at Richmond has been firmly in GOP hands, but may be flipped to the Democrats. Hopefully, a fair redistricting process will follow.
But what really matters is that in the former capital of the Confederacy, home of Robert E. Lee, an overtly racist campaign failed. "Trumpism" -- using immigration and other cover issues to scream a racist rant -- was rejected. This was actually a vote on hate. Thankfully, both Virginia and New Jersey said no.