USA: Crisis in Virginia


By Robert Gibbs, U.S. Correspondent, 08 February 2019, Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT),




The American public now confronts the challenge of evaluating the character of (to date) the three top officials in the Commonwealth of Virginia. This has become an extraordinary crisis for the Democratic Party which has sought to differentiate itself from the openly white supremacist and misogynist appeals of the Republicans, especially under Donald Trump.


That was the basis of the much heralded electoral victory the Democrats experienced in taking back the House of Representatives in November, 2018. Part of this shift was the August 2017 Unite the Right Neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville (also in Virginia) over the removal of Confederate monuments which led to a confrontation that left 30 injured and one (counter-protester) dead. Trump infamously asserted in the aftermath that, "there were very fine people, on both sides." The Neo-Nazis were remembered for their anti-Semitic tiki-torch rally chant, "Jews will not replace us."


The recent crisis first hit Governor Ralph Nordham on February 1. And then, in quick succession, it was Norham's potential successors, Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax and Attorney General Mark Herring, who were implicated in the following days in circumstances of sexual abuse and racism.


With two of these officials, Nordham and Herring, it's easy for the public to judge – they are self-confessed. Wearing blackface is an obvious disqualification from holding office. While not illegal, it's directly tied in the minds of millions to America's sordid history of antebellum slavery and Jim Crow racial discrimination.


Racist behavior has unfortunately re-emerged as a powerful issue in American politics. Nowhere is that clearer than in the 2016 election of Donald Trump. The Trump Corporation has a long practice of profiting from racism. Trump and his father were sued by the U.S. Department of Justice in 1973 for enforcing discriminatory practices in their thousands of residential units in the New York City area. And, of course, Trump ran for office in 2016 based on calling Mexicans rapists and combining this with scurrilous, xenophobic attacks on Muslims. As the American Alt-right is fond of saying, "Not every Trump supporter is a white supremacist but every white supremacist is a Trump supporter."


This is a crisis for the Democratic Party because the majority of the electorate (in Virginia or elsewhere) would not approve of officeholders that have worn blackface at any point in their lives. The year that Governor Nordham wore blackface in a dance contest (the same year as his medical school yearbook photos showing a hooded Ku Klux Klansman and someone in blackface) was 1984. That was 30 years after the 1954 Supreme Court decision of Brown v. Board of Education struck down segregated education and 20 years after the 1964 Civil Rights Act.


Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax? The accusation that he forced a Democratic Party convention (Boston 2004) attendee to perform oral sex on him will never be tried before a court of law. It's clear in most peoples minds, however, that either Fairfax is a liar motivated by self-preservation or Dr. Tyson is both a liar and seriously unstable. Political motivations are ruled out because Tyson is a longtime supporter of the Democratic Party.


In evaluating the two, lying in the pursuit of self-preservation (particularly in the heat of a crisis) is perceived by the public as far more likely than outrageous claims on the part of someone who has established a clear reputation as a stable person. Dr. Vanessa C. Tyson is an associate professor of politics and black history at the "Ivy-League West" Scripps College in California. She is also an advocate for victims of sexual assault that has spoken openly about being molested by her father when she was a child.


The public can see what Fairfax has to gain from the pursuit of a lie. In a word - everything. With Dr. Tyson (not to mention Dr. Anita Hill or Dr. Christine Ford before her) that's not the case. Hill and Ford, of course, brought charges of sexual abuse at the time of the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Justices Clarence Thomas (in 1991) and, just last year, Brett Kavanaugh. Both Justices were confirmed.


Again, this will never go before a jury. Most abusers typically get away with their crimes. However, in the court of #MeToo public opinion, based on the above, Fairfax is widely expected to be the loser.


This sequence of events illustrates the mushrooming larger point – the rotten fish in the center of world capitalism abound. Everywhere. Quoting William Faulkner, "The past is never dead. It's not even past."


You cannot suppress the obvious fact that racism and misogyny are central elements of a system based on the exploitation of one person by another. The related crisis of confidence is becoming a serious problem for the ongoing rule of bourgeois parties in the United States.