Email #337: “a wake-up call”

Many Republican have acknowledged the seriousness of Tuesday’s elections.

Rep. Dent said yesterday: “If this isn’t a wake-up call, I don’t know what is. Voters are taking their anger out at the president, and the only way they can do that is by going after Republicans on the ballot.”

Former Virginia Governor McDonnell said: “The enthusiastic left showed up tonight in big numbers, and that really determined the outcome.”

Republican Party of Virginia chair Whitbeck said: “I will be blunt: last night was a terrible night for our Party. We must quickly regroup and prepare for next year.”

Former Washington State Republican Party chair Chris Vance said: “Republicans are being obliterated in the suburbs. I don’t think the Republican Party has a future in any state like Washington or Virginia, or Oregon or California, or many other places, where the majority of the voters are from urban or suburban areas…  Among college-educated suburbanites, [Trump] is a pariah.”

While recounts will determine the final breakdown, it appears 15 seats in the Virginia House of Delegates have already shifted to Democrats. If Democrats win two of the contested recounts, they take control. In August, the liberal websites Blue Virginia and the Daily Kos considered this nearly impossible: “The problem Democrats have with this map isn’t that they have to hit a bullseye, it’s that they have to hit a bullseye many times in a row, with no margin for error. That’s why, as things currently stand, I’m rating the Virginia HoD Safe R.”

Regardless of the final outcome, the Democratic upsets are linked to President Trump and his policies and rhetoric.

Vietnamese immigrant Kathy Tran won a GOP seat by campaigning against the President’s anti-immigrant stance: “This was a clear rejection of racism and bigotry and hateful violence. People are hungry for a government that reflects the diversity of our communities.”

The President reversed military policy to prohibit transgender people from serving, and the transgender Democratic candidate Danica Roem defeated 13-term incumbent and self-declared “chief homophobe” Robert Marshall, who introduced a bill banning transgender people from using public restrooms of their choice. Roem said in her victory speech: “Discrimination is a disqualifier. This is about the people of the 13th District disregarding fear tactics, disregarding phobias . . . where we celebrate you because of who you are, not despite it.”

Of the 15 new seats won by Democrats, 11 were by female candidates, nearly doubling the total number of women in the House from 17 to 30. The President has been accused of sexual harassment by over 16 women, all of whom the President has called liars. Regarding the most recent allegation, he responded last month: “All I can say is it’s totally fake news. It’s just fake. It’s fake. It’s made-up stuff, and it’s disgraceful, what happens, but that happens in the — that happens in the world of politics.” Delegate-elect Jennifer Carroll Foy said she ran because of the “fear and anger and frustration” she felt toward the President.

Republican candidate Ed Gillespie attempted to distance himself from the President. According to Politico, Donald Trump “is the first president since Richard Nixon, who at the time was in the throes of the Watergate scandal, not to campaign in [Virginia’s] governor’s race.” But Gillespie still lost by 9%.

GOP strategist Mike Murphy said: “Donald Trump is an anchor for the GOP. We got that message in loud volume in Virginia. The ­canary in the coal mine didn’t just pass out; its head exploded.”

So far I haven’t heard anything from your office about the landslide election in your own state. Your press release yesterday instead bragged about your committee forwarding legislation to the House floor. Did you notice the election? Did you get the message too?


Author: Chris Gavaler

Chris Gavaler is an associate professor at W&L University, comics editor of Shenandoah, and series editor of Bloomsbury Critical Guides in Comics Studies. He has published two novels: School for Tricksters (SMU 2011) and Pretend I’m Not Here (HarperCollins 2002); and six books of scholarship: On the Origin of Superheroes (Iowa 2015), Superhero Comics (Bloomsbury 2017), Superhero Thought Experiments (with Nathaniel Goldberg, Iowa 2019), Revising Fiction, Fact, and Faith (with Nathaniel Goldberg, Routledge 2020), Creating Comics (with Leigh Ann Beavers, Bloomsbury 2021), and The Comics Form (Bloomsbury forthcoming). His visual work appears in Ilanot Review, North American Review, Aquifer, and other journals.

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