Virginia leadership faces backlash for controversies

By MAC MCCABE
On February 12, 2019

Photo courtesy of Craig, Flickr

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam has been under fire recently after a controversial picture of a person wearing blackface that appeared on his biography page in his medical school’s yearbook page was discovered.

Th person in blackface was standing next to another person who was dressed in a Ku Klux Klan outfit. Northam first apologized for the photo, admitting it was him without saying which person he was, but he later backtracked and denied that he was in the photo.

While Northam continues to deny he was in the photo, he did admit to darkening his face when he dressed up as Michael Jackson for a dance competition.

In Virginia, both Republicans and Democrats in the state Senate have called for his resignation. Nationally, multiple presidential candidates like Cory Booker and Kamala Harris have demanded that he resign as well.

To add fuel to the fire, Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax has been accused of sexual assault by two women.

One of these accusations stemmed from the 2004 Democratic National Convention, and the other at Duke University, where Fairfax attended.

Fairfax has vehemently denied these allegations and is also refusing to resign, even as he faces pressure from top Democrats to do so - including Democratic candidates for president. In addition, Attorney General Mark Herring, also a Democrat, has admitted wearing blackface.

The Virginia Democrats are in quite the predicament. If Northam, Fairfax and Herring were to resign, the Republicans will have control of both the executive and legislative branch in Virginia, which would be disastrous for the Democratic Party.

Fairfax is only 39 years old, and he is considered to be a rising star in the Democratic Party. Unfortunately for him, these allegations have the potential to destroy his political ambitions. The Democrats have to choose between being a party of decency, or risk being called hypocrites by allowing Northam, Fairfax and Herring to remain in office.

In a perfect world, all Northam would have to do is apologize for the picture and make amends. However, in Northam’s case, he is being pressured to resign, which would be political suicide.

Northam has made a lousy attempt to save his political career. He already admitted that he was the one in blackface, but has since backtracked because apparently his own political career is more important than healing racial divides.

Regarding Fairfax, the Democrats will be no better than the Republicans if they allow him to remain in office. If the Democrats want to be the party that “when they go low, we go high,” then they need to put basic human decency above politics.

mmccabe1@ramapo.edu

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